, Salem, MA


January 31, 2012

Indy draws on super effort to overcome skeptics



Alison Melangton, the president and chief executive officer of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, said her committee members decided to launch a different kind of charm offensive.

It built on what she said was a native Hoosier value: "The human touch is really important to us here in Indiana."

Among the ways the committee employed the touch: It recruited 32 eighth-graders to deliver, in person, the city's 2012 bid packages to the 32 NFL team owners. And it recruited the city's legendary St. Elmo’s Steakhouse to gift each owner with a delivery of its signature shrimp cocktail.

The committee also promised to launch a $100-million-plus "legacy" project aimed at renovating a long-neglected near-downtown neighborhood. And it promised to recruit an army of some 8,000 volunteers — each adorned with a handmade blue-and-white neck scarf — to greet visitors with a super-friendly attitude and directions for how to get around downtown.

Helping the effort along was a promise by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay that his team's hometown would make good on its promise of Hoosier hospitality.

At a press conference Monday, Irsay said the Indianapolis host committee adopted an approach that he described this way: "Ask not what the Super Bowl can do for you. Ask what you can do for the Super Bowl."

That approach has paid off in dividends, said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. "Those of you coming in from out-of-town, you’re going to absolutely love our city," he said.

That expectation might be a little high. It’s true that CNBC's popular sports-business reporter, Darren Rovell, gave the city a boost recently when he declared on ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" that Indianapolis was "the best Super Bowl city I’ve ever seen."

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