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Friday, March 30, 2007

Indianapolis Super Bowl 2011 Bid - Plan Sent To NFL Costs $25 Million

By Michael Marot
3:45 p.m. March 30, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS – Super Bowl committee officials are putting the finishing touches on the biggest sweepstakes in Indianapolis history.

The hard part is making sure they hold the winning ticket.

Bid committee spokesman Bob Schultz said Friday the group will spend this weekend finalizing details and ensuring that NFL requirements are met when the three-binder proposal is delivered to the league office.

“It will be hand-delivered Monday,” Schultz said.

Details of the proposal for the 2011 game were being kept quiet to prevent other cities from getting a competitive advantage, Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell said.

Getting the Super Bowl would add to Indianapolis' growing sports legacy. Included among recent championship events Indy has hosted are the men's and women's college basketball Final Fours, the NBA Finals and an AFC Championship game. It's also the only city in the world that hosts car races for the Indy Racing League, NASCAR and Formula One.

The city will rely on its attractive logistics to win over NFL owners. Bid officials say they have 7,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the stadium, even in inclement weather, thanks to the maze of skywalks in the downtown area. And Campbell hopes easy access for fans will help the city earn its biggest prize.

“The thing I got from Miami was that our blueprint became bigger because it took us an hour and a half to get anywhere from where we stayed in Fort Lauderdale,” Campbell said.

It appeared the biggest obstacle was financing.

The city estimated it will cost $25 million to host the NFL's biggest event and doesn't want taxpayers footing the bill since they're already financing Lucas Oil Stadium, the retractable roof field that will become the Colts' new home in 2008. They're trying to raise the money privately.

While Campbell would not say how much money has been raised, Colts owner Jim Irsay offered a $1 million pledge when the city kicked off the project Jan. 30. Ed Sagebiel, a spokesman for Eli Lilly & Co., confirmed the drug maker has agreed to contribute $2.5 million. That's the largest single contribution so far, Campbell said.

The owners meet to award the game in May.

“We're hopeful we'll have the money in hand by that date, not just pledged,” Schultz said.

The city might face bigger obstacles than financing. First, Indianapolis must make a strong enough pitch to bring the game to a cold-weather city.

Traditionally, the game has been played in warm-weather cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego and New Orleans, although both Detroit and Minneapolis have hosted the game.

The strongest competition is expected to come from Dallas, which is scheduled to open a new stadium in 2009 that has a capacity to seat up to 100,000 fans. Phoenix, next year's Super Bowl host, also may enter the fray.

The league's requirements create other concerns.

The host city must have 20,000 to 22,000 hotel rooms within 60 minutes of the stadium, two nearby indoor practice facilities – one for each team – and venues that can host a variety of off-field activities including the traditional Super Bowl parties.

For assistance, Indianapolis officials have turned to their suburban neighbors, including residents who are paying regional taxes to help fund the Colts' new stadium. Among the areas being asked to contribute are Carmel, Noblesville, Columbus, Bloomington and Johnson County.

“The regional tax is really unique and this bid is really the first manifestation of bringing that regional effort to the city,” Schultz said.

Finding practice fields is another matter.

Although the Colts' complex could be used by one team, finding a second suitable site may prove more problematic.

A solution would be to use the indoor practice fields at Indiana University in Bloomington or at Purdue in West Lafayette, both about an hour's drive from Indianapolis.

The backup plan could be refurbishing an existing structure or building a new practice facility, something Campbell said city officials have considered.

“Building something new is an option, but clearly we'd prefer to use something that exists now and converting it,” Campbell said.


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