Super Bowl Score: Giants 21; Patriots 17. Indianapolis' score as Super Bowl host: A+
Indianapolis has long had a reputation as naptown. Native Kurt Vonnegut Jr. even referred to it in 1970 as the 500-mile speedway race, and then 364 days of miniature golf, and then the 500-mile speedway race again. But in recent years, the Midwestern city has shed its sleepy image and proven to be a worthy choice as Super Bowl host.
Staging America's largest sporting party in one of the league's smallest markets was a gamble for the NFL, but as 150,000 visitors descended on a new, vibrant Indianapolis this week, even cynics agreed the city had successfully shed its sleepy image.
There is a real hunger from a community standpoint to be incredibly buttoned up and prepared, Chris Gahl, vice president of marketing and communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, told IBTimes just before the big event. We want to roll out the red carpet for this event not only because of its magnitude, but to insure that we prove to the NFL that we are capable of being in contention to host again.
Indeed sports have played a major role in the city's revitalization. The transformation of naptown began long before city leaders dreamed of bidding for their first Super Bowl. In the 1970s, then-Mayor Bill Hudnut determined that sports was the ticket to reviving the city and a way to put it on the map.
Indianapolis was the capital of a sports-crazed state that boasted Notre Dame's winning football team in the north, Indiana University's winning basketball team in the south and the Indianapolis 500 in the middle. But it had just one professional team, the NBA's Indiana Pacers.
Hudnut made it his duty to bring the NFL to his city. In 1982, the city commenced construction on a $77.5 million stadium with no guarantee it would ever house an NFL team.
In 1984, Indianapolis finally lured the Colts from Baltimore and welcomed its first professional football team.
In July of that same year, the Hoosier Dome opened to a crowd of 67,596 people for an Olympic team exhibition and the Colts played their first games in the stadium in August.
From then on, Indianapolis used sports to market its city to the world, hosting the Pan American games in 1987 and luring the governing bodies of seven sports including gymnastics and track and field to the Indiana capital.
Before the sports renaissance, Indianapolis had just 500 hotel rooms in downtown. In 2012, that number is closer to 6,500. The number of downtown restaurants has doubled in the past ten years and with the sports, came a thriving arts and music scene.
Indianapolis boasts stage productions at the Indiana Repertory Theater and live music at the Old National Center. A walk along the downtown canal offers opportunities for pedal boats, bike rentals, and gondola rides.
Visits to downtown tourism attractions have increased 83 percent since 1994, according to tourism officials.
For the 2012 Super Bowl, the city pulled out all the stops to create a complete experience that extended far beyond the Lucas Oil Stadium
At the heart of the action was a three-block Super Bowl Village - a free, interactive fan zone that spanned from Bankers Life Fieldhouse all the way to the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center along the newly redesigned Georgia Street.
We completely transformed our downtown, Gahl said. It's meant to emulate an Olympic village.
In addition to the interactive games, concert stages, bars and restaurants, and a so-called Tailgate Town, four zip lines traversed Capital Avenue giving fans a chance to fly over the Super Bowl Village. The zip lines proved to be one of the hottest tickets in town with some people camping out overnight for a chance to experience the thrill of speeding above the jam-packed Super Bowl village.
In a happy marriage of the football and racing, 33 speedsters bearing the logos of NFL teams and Super Bowl XLVI lined city streets during the week of the big game.
For those looking to chow down and enjoy the ambiance, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development partnered up with the Super Bowl Host Committee and Indianapolis Weekly to promote Super 46 Sandwiches, a guide to the 46 best sandwiches in the area.
The Indiana State Museum, meanwhile, opened the exhibit Chaos is a Friend of Mine: Cultural Icons from the Jim Irsay Collection to coincide with Super Bowl week. The show features an eclectic collection of items from the Indianapolis Colts owner, including Jerry Garcia's guitar and Jack Kerouac's original manuscript for On the Road, along with NFL memorabilia.
In numbers, 150,000 visitors were expected to generate $150 million in economic impact for Indianapolis. Local businesses were told to expect seven times as much activity and there were over 130 parties in the six days leading up to the game. Over 1,000 private planes were expected on the ground during the weekend ushering in countless celebrities. And as the game went on, analysts say there were 12,000 tweets per second about the Super Bowl.