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Indy officials excited to host 2012 Super Bowl

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

By DEANNA MARTIN

Associated Press Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- City leaders shook hands, slapped high fives and congratulated each other for winning the bid to host the 2012 Super Bowl. But soon they'll be rolling up their sleeves to make the projects they dreamed up in the bid a reality.

"Now it's time to get to work and start organizing this," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

NFL owners voted Tuesday to award the game to Indianapolis, picking the city over Houston and Arizona. The city touted its new $700 million retractable-roof Lucas Oil Stadium, scheduled to open in August, and its experience hosting major sporting events such as the Indianapolis 500 and the NCAA Final Four.

The bid also included new projects, such as a proposed $9 million athletic center that would be used as a practice facility for a Super Bowl team before being turned over to Indianapolis Public Schools.

The city wants to create a Super Bowl "Village" downtown -- a pedestrian-friendly area complete with fire pits to make "warm zones."

"We can't wait to get started," said Tamara Zahn, president of Indianapolis Downtown Inc. "We will show the world what Indianapolis has to offer."

The city will spend the next few months organizing volunteer committees to work on the Super Bowl preparations, said Susan Williams, president of the Indiana Sports Corporation.

"This isn't our first rodeo," she said. "We have a lot of very experienced volunteers."

The Super Bowl is expected to bring a one-time economic boost of more than $300 million, including more than $30 million in state and local tax revenues, according to a study by Ball State University's Bureau of Business Research.

Bob Schultz, with the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, said the game will directly help waitresses, cab drivers, hotel housekeepers and others who depend on tourism.

"This is indeed a big day for all of them," he said.

The big game could bring the city prestige as well as cash. Colts owner Jim Irsay said the Super Bowl will leave a sense of pride in Indianapolis and Indiana that can't be measured.

"It's big for us and it's big for every citizen and everyone that's in our city and state," Irsay said.

One Indiana resident -- Gov. Mitch Daniels -- was already feeling that pride and excitement Tuesday.

"As a Colts fan, I'm thrilled. As a citizen of Indiana, I'm proud," Daniels said. "This cements our state's reputation as a sports and big events capital."



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