The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

February 3, 2012

Indy shines at Super Bowl

WASHINGTON — The Super Bowl is the biggest single sports event in the world. According to Forbes magazine, the brand is worth upwards of $500 million.

The biggest amateur sporting event in America is the NCAA basketball tourney, worth about $100 million.

And the greatest spectacle in racing? The 500 Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So what is the connection between these three great events? The state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis.

For the last two weeks, people from across the world have had a chance to see what Hoosiers have known for a very long time — Indianapolis is a great city.

The Circle City has once again shown that no matter how big the event is, Indianapolis can handle it. Through careful urban planning and execution, Indianapolis has created a downtown that feels like a downtown should. Great sports venues, convention centers, restaurants, hotels, entertainment and shopping all within walking distance of each other. Reasonably priced accommodations and food, snuggle comfortably next to some of the nation’s best, providing a little something for everyone. Some may snicker that Indy is just Mayberry on steroids, or a 21st Century Bugtussle with bright lights, but then again, those must be same people who see the upside of congestion and rudeness in an urban environment and are willing to pay a premium for access to it.

What people seem to forget, is this is not Indy’s first rodeo. It has hosted March Madness six times, and because Lucas Oil Stadium was constructed with that event in mind as well, it should continue to see the Final Four back many times in the future.

Each May, The 500 shows how local law enforcement can correctly handle 300,000 patrons who may well have been “over served” during their annual pilgrimage for speed (and fried chicken). At the Brickyard 400, two months later, Indianapolis continues to showcase those same skills and sensibilities that also work in 100 degree temperatures with 150,000 fans.

Time and time again, Indianapolis combines small town hospitality, with big city savvy to continually pull off world-class performances.

How do they do it? It starts with the people who reside with in the borders of this state. Hoosiers have long understood that politeness, kindness and common sense can go a long way in creating a state-wide community that is on display, every time Indiana is in the spotlight.

The Super Bowl Village and NFL Experience have been nearly flawless.

If there was even one hint of disappointment, it might have been that Indiana’s greatest ambassador of football, Peyton Manning, has had to face a barrage of attention on why he may have to be “forced out” of the city he has represented with dignity for so long.

On Monday, people will begin to return home to other cities with more impressive pedigrees, over-priced real estate and $9 cups of coffee. However, when they think of Super Bowl XVLI, one of the first things they will remember was the hospitability and the city that provided it.

“Ya’ll come back now” — Indianapolis will be ready when you do.

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