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XLVI - The Sweet Super Bowl Hangover & the IMA

Updated on February 11, 2012
Look - over there! It's Vanilla Ice!
Look - over there! It's Vanilla Ice!

Spud Webb & Joey Greco Were Here!!!!

Like almost everyone here, I applaud Indianapolis’ planning and execution in hosting Super Bowl XLVI. Local movers/ shakers prepared well, exhibited some creativity, and even stole some good ideas – the zip-line from Vancouver and the last Winter Olympics – and managed to turn the Super Bowl Village - Monument Circle to Georgia Street - into what I heard aptly described as a French Quarter Light. It was an amazing week in which sleep was gladly sacrificed and the national media largely praised our fair city. A good time was seemingly had by all, with the exceptions of M.I.A. and Tom Brady's wife.



A friend described cities like Fresno, Oklahoma City and Indianapolis in the same boat, as “having a chip on their shoulder.” Places that have something to prove to the big boys, in other words. Harboring a grudge, they try harder. Indy might have crossed that threshold in some ways by pulling off this Super Bowl caper with some aplomb. At least one hopes so because if we can shed our unspoken inferiority complex and the desire to ‘please important company’ when it pops into town - usually in the guise of some national sporting event - perhaps Indy can go to the next step.

So now, why let downtown return to a canyon of overpriced hook-up bars and steak houses? The prolonged party that was Super Bowl Village emanated a vibe heretofore unknown in these parts that can be a gateway toward a new dynamic. A big-ass winter street festival every February is one idea; an annual barrage of bands, food, drink, zipline-esque adventures, and general city-swagger that shuts down the triangle from the Circle southward to the Pacers Fieldhouse and brings the local denizens back into the streets every winter. Some version of said, anyway. Let’s just do it for us from here on out.


Took my two boys downtown on Super Bowl Sunday to bask in the atmosphere. On the drive home, we passed some seriously decaying neighborhoods around Sherman and Prospect. It was a stark reminder that a city is far more than its shiniest components.


In the run-up to the Super Bowl, our mayor, a corrupt buffoon named Greg Ballard, announced his enthusiastic support for a comprehensive smoking ban in bars, etc., which he has since reneged on. Similarly, the mayor announced his support for a long-needed local mass-transit system following his re-election in November. Seemed odd when he announced support for anything so bold by local standards – contrary to his past low expectation-conservative ethic. Time will tell whether he pulls the plug on this promise too.



Let’s push this nascent civic pride wave as far as possible. If we can’t fix up crack-infested ‘hoods, go smoke-free, and get a decent local rail system, we can still push the envelope in other ways. Take the Indianapolis Museum of Art, for example. Picturesque, wooded grounds that provide a great backdrop for the Penrod Arts Fair each September. But the museum itself – please. Here’s where perhaps we can take some cues from other cities. The artwork displayed in the IMA is uninspired and pedestrian at best. Take a stroll through and you tell me if it appeals to your creative side or would make the “average person” more art appreciative.


Memo to the NFL: Dole out future Super Bowls to Wichita, Anchorage, or Fargo next chance you get. The undersized, cold-weather cities with a chip on their shoulder try harder.


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    • keithmitchell5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Bee-ry...thanks for the thoughtful analysis. You twist a phrase very well and definitely provoke thoughts. Perhaps I'm too easily impressed (although you know I am critical as well.) I was at a cinema on the westside, for instance, that reserves two screens for Bollywood fare and Japanese anime, respectively, bringing in diversity unfathomed in this town even ten years ago. (In line w/ my daughter to see some sweet "Full Metal Alchemy," a bevy of transplants from India in line in front of me. Incremental advanced admittedly, but portending more in the micro. And yes, I agree with everything you say in the macro. (Frustropolis, I said change despite leadership as opposed to b/c of it.)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The "let's do it for us" line of thought is well taken, but I don't believe there is a concrete enough foundation of "us." Sure, bastians of real community reside in small historic neighborhoods, but its not the norm.

      Transforming this city will require commitment from leadership to look at the real issues on a scale that we haven't done. We need a council of governments that will facilitate cooperation across county lines.

      Taking a regional approach to land use, water and waste management and transportation is only the first step down a long path of hard decisions it will take to create a powerful town that will compete with other great towns.

      We don't have a rich history of arts and culture that draws the world in.

      We don't have beautiful topographical features that entice outdoorspeople to visit or live.

      We don't have density or vibrant neighborhoods that makes a city buzz. We codified zoning laws that separated use of space. Affordable housing downtown is unheard of. No wonder the sidewalks roll up at 6pm.

      Indianapolis is the Amateur Sports Capitol of the world. Ironic?

      We're home of the largest motor race in the world, several-time host of NCAA championships, and now a Super Bowl. Sure, we can manage large scale influxes of crowds for a short amount of time.

      Indy's the Crossroads of America. But all roads don't lead TO Indy. No, in fact all roads quickly take you out of Indianapolis-- in any direction you'd like.

      Our city was planned-- on a huge flub-- that the White River would bring trade through town. It didn't.

      Without the "stock" components of what makes great cities great, the only way out of this purgatory is to coordinate, plan, execute and compete. And we're not going to win against really great towns until we tackle regional problems with regional cooperation.

    • keithmitchell5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Fair enough and agreed. This one is more for 'local consumption.' Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      not as insightful as past posts, but still intriguing

      vanilla ice ;)


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