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What Indianapolis Hosting Super Bowl XLVI Means to a Hoosier: Local Fan Perspective
Super Bowl XLVI is finally here in central Indiana. It's been a long time coming. As we Hoosiers live the dream this week that we've been planning for years, this Super Bowl takes on a much more special meaning for me than has any other NFL championship game in the past.
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As everyone knows, this is the first Super Bowl to be hosted by Indianapolis. We know how to put on a great sporting event, with the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400, the Big Ten Championship game in football, the NCAA Final Four in men's and women's basketball, or any of the other events that we routinely host. But this is our first Super Bowl, and it's been a unique and rewarding experience.
Those of us in the Hoosier State have been making sacrifices for Super Bowl XLVI for quite some time. We've been paying a significant increase in sales tax on a lot of services and items in order to fund the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium—a structure designed to lure a Super Bowl to our city. We've been re-routed, stuck in traffic, and sent out of our way countless times as roads and bridges are upgraded and repaired in preparation for the big game. We have spent a ton of time and money on planning for and carrying out this event.
What became abundantly clear to me, however, as I experienced downtown Indianapolis first-hand on the first day of the Super Bowl celebration, was that it was all worth it.
Totally worth it.
Dollars and Cents
As I strolled around the heart of the Super Bowl XVLI festivities, taking pictures and talking with other people in attendance, it finally struck me what a positive and long-term impact this event is going to have on Indianapolis and on Indiana in general.
While I was downtown, I looked around and saw hundreds—maybe thousands—of Hoosiers working. That is a refreshing and encouraging sight, given the nature of the national economy.
It will take some time to fully assess the Super Bowl's economic injection into the arm of Indianapolis and the state as a whole, but since Dallas was expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 million from Super Bowl XLV, Indy's estimate of $150 million seems a little conservative. Wherever the numbers fall, it's a boatload of money coming into our community and state from "just" a single football game.
We're already reaping the financial rewards of the big game. Thanks to the Super Bowl, more than $154 million has been invested in 21 neighborhoods on the Near East Side of the city to revitalize a large section of Indianapolis through the Legacy Project, and the results already are amazing. Plus there's more to come. Outstanding!
Beyond Bank Accounts
I drove from my home just outside Indianapolis toward the Super Bowl events in the city on nice new, smooth, wide roads that will still be here long after all of the visitors have left. While I was driving, I noticed some of the 2,012 trees by 2012—a project that actually planted well over 2,012 trees (2,876 at the time of this writing) in the metropolitan area—trees that will beautify and benefit Indianapolis for decades.
I noticed on Twitter today that 700 generous women are coming to Indianapolis from all over the place to donate healthy breast tissue for the Super Bowl Super Cure project to help the efforts to eradicate breast cancer. Super Baskets of Hope will send more than 7,000 baskets of goodies to sick kids in all 32 home cities of NFL teams. Other like-minded programs are underway, too. You just can't beat this kind of humanitarian effort that the Super Bowl has helped attract.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching other people in the NFL Experience, the Super Bowl Village, and elsewhere downtown having a genuinely good time. People were smiling and laughing, meeting new people, experiencing new things, and excitedly sharing their good times and experiences with total strangers. Watching this human camaraderie warmed my heart, and I take great pride in the fact that it is happening in my home city in my home state.
The Eyes of the World Are Upon Indy
Last year, 111 million viewers from all over the world watched Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers—the second consecutive record-setting American television event, following Super Bowl XLIV's then-record-setting 106.5 million in viewership when the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints went at it.
It's reasonable to assume, then, that well over 100 million sets of eyes will be on Indianapolis when the New York Giants and New England Patriots take the field. Already, we've had an estimated excess of 200,000 people downtown—and that's just over the first weekend. We still have a week to go.
According to my calculations, that's a whole bunch of people who will see Indianapolis at its finest—a whole bunch of people who will see that the days of Naptown are long gone. Indy is no longer some boring city in the middle of a cornfield. We are a vibrant metropolitan area that's full of life and excitement, whether it's in the sports world, the arts, history, culture, technology, medicine, nature, or any of the other wonderful things to enjoy in the Circle City.
Seeing Indianapolis shine on a global stage may be the most rewarding and long-lasting benefit of Super Bowl XLVI, after all.
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