A few years ago, I was convinced that Chicago would get the honor of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. Obviously, I was delusional (and it still stings). But, around that same time, Indianapolis put in a bid to host a Super Bowl - an effort that seemed like a much bigger long-shot at the time. This weekend, Indy gets its chance to shine on a global stage.
Indianapolis: the Circle City, the Crossroads of America - 12th largest city in the United States, home to approximately 780,000 people, a city largely defined by it's role in the sports world. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400, and used to host the only Formula One race in the States. The NCAA Headquarters are in Indy, and they host the NCAA Final Four about every four years. They host the Big Ten Championships in basketball and football on a regular basis. It's the home of the Indiana Pacers NBA team, the Indiana Fever WNBA team, and the Indianapolis Indians AAA baseball team (which feeds into the Pittsburgh Pirates system - I know, I know, not something most people would brag about). Not to mention the Butler Bulldogs, NCAA basketball championship finalists two years running.
Little Midwestern towns aren't supposed to host Super Bowls, especially not during the teeth of winter. But, when I made my way 'home' last weekend, I saw a city full of vibrant, shiny people who couldn't wait to welcome the biggest event in American sports - even if it did involve their most bitter rivals, the Patriots.
Here's a sampling of our visit:
I couldn't have been more thrilled with what I saw. The good people in Indy know they'll probably only get one chance to host something like this. They're too small, too remote, too wintery to be considered for a second chance. They've grabbed this event by the scruff of the neck, and they're attacking it for all it's worth, even with Peyton Manning's murky future casting a shadow over the good times (for the record, I'm refusing to think about it or talk about it until August).
Good job by you, Indy. Now all we need is a Patriots loss to make the experience complete.