The Zipline is just getting warmed up, and Madonna hasn’t even been spotted yet, but already one expert is calling a victory for Indianapolis and raising the specter of another Super Bowl coming to town.
Forbes.com writer Patrick Rishe broached the topic in an interview Monday. Rishe, a sports-marketing analyst and economics professor in St. Louis, initially raised our hopes of again getting the big game in a glowing column last week about Indy's worthiness as a host city. (He’s no stranger to our town, having visited plenty when he taught economics at IU Southeast in 1997–98.) Rishe spent the weekend here for a follow-up column, and we caught up with him to see if he liked what he saw.
Super City: First impressions?
Patrick Rishe: It was consistent with what I expected. I was impressed with how compact it is, how they orchestrated everything. The Indiana Convention Center seems a little more compact with the setup [of the NFL Experience than Dallas], which makes it a little more convenient for fans. Clearly, the convention center has had a lot of experience putting together all kinds of events. What a lot of people have said, and I agree with, is that it was some good planning the way downtown Indy is laid out and the convention center is laid out.
They did a nice job of putting up the heat lamps on Georgia Street. Maybe a few more streets with that kind of setup would be nice, but I’m sure there’s only so much they can do with local jurisdiction issues.
It was nice to have the race cars lined up, leading up to that tower …
SC: Monument Circle?
PR: Monument Circle. That was well thought-out, given what the region is known for.
SC: Locals assume that hosting the Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You got our hopes up with this line from your column last week: "Indianapolis figures to be a 'diamond in the rough' host city that could land on a Super Bowl host cycle if everything comes together just right." Really?
PR: As long as they do a very fine job of putting on a show this week, they’ll at least get it back again. I’d be surprised, as long as things go well, if they didn’t get it again in the next eight years.
SC: What does it mean for things to go well?
PR: It’s unfortunate that it comes down to this, but it’s the corporate people that ultimately have to feel appeased, and the TV people. They have to feel like it was a good experience for them to want to come back.
SC: What do we have going for us?
PR: Clearly Lucas Oil Stadium is a fantastic facility, so that’s not an issue. It all goes back to the whole convenience argument. Sometimes smaller, mid-sized cities have that edge because the convenience factor is high, even though there may not be as much volume of things to do. There’s a decadence factor, for lack of a better word, that probably won't be as alive and well in Indy. But if corporate types like being able to quickly shuttle from the airport to downtown and not need a car the rest of the week, and if they find enough places to be entertained, then you’re looking at a realistic chance of getting into the cycle [of hosting the Super Bowl].
SC: So that’s what's at stake for Indy this week?
PR: There’s also an image factor, which impacts business and tourism. People might say, hey, there are some aspects of the city that we didn’t know about. Maybe you’ll get more people from Chicago, New York, Boston, and Atlanta saying that Indy would be a nice place to visit for the weekend or a nice place to do business. Or maybe a Fortune 500 company decides to open a branch there or relocate to the city. That’s the home run.
SC: You seem to have a soft spot for Indy.
PR: I’m a believer. I’ve lived close to Indy over the last dozen years, so I’ve had a chance to go there and know what it’s about.
Photo: Patrick Rishe, courtesy of Forbes.com