By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The city of Indianapolis, flush from the economic and public relations successes of this year's Super Bowl, wants to host the big game again in 2018.
Declaring "let's do it again," Mayor Greg Ballard announced plans for a formal bid Wednesday to cheers from organizers and volunteers who helped plan and stage the Feb. 5 game and the celebrations and events leading up to it.
Ballard said officials were delighted by the game's financial performance, which included nearly $152 million in direct economic impact and the positive national exposure it brought to the city. He said an analysis found that about 84 cents of every dollar spent for Super Bowl stayed in Indianapolis.
"Those are the kind of numbers that I like — somebody else spent money and Indy benefited from it, so I have four words for you: Let's do it again," Ballard said to applause during a news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium downtown.
Both Ballard and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said they expected competition would be stiff for the city to land a second Super Bowl. Irsay said he is completely behind the new bid and said he had heard rave reviews from other league owners on Indianapolis' performance as a host city.
"We're not just another Midwestern city," he said.
Mild, sunny weather in Indy helped stave off fears that a "northern" Super Bowl would be a bummer because of cold temperatures, but organizers said they believe large crowds would have come in colder weather, too.
Irsay said the Super Bowl village activities and other events related to the game showed that the city best known as the home of the Indianapolis 500 auto race — and ridiculed decades ago as "Naptown" by some detractors — could pull off a big event in a unique way.
"Of course the weather cooperated," he said. "We probably had some expenditure on suntan lotion, maybe not sand for the snowplows."
Ballard said the city would submit its bid to the NFL for the 2018 game in early 2014 and that the league is expected to announce the winner in May of that year.
The game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, and the pre-game events were widely considered a success. Indianapolis won praise for its cleanliness, friendliness and its compact downtown that made it easy for visitors to walk to events and restaurants.
Super Bowl host committee president Allison Melangton said a review found that 99 percent of media mentions about Indianapolis surrounding the Super Bowl were positive. The announcement included a video montage of fans praising the city's orchestration of Super Bowl events and celebrities such as Madonna — the game's halftime act — expressing excitement about the game.
An economic impact study found that an estimated 116,000 visitors came from at least 50 miles away during the 10 days before the game and that 265,000 tickets were sold for the NFL Experience fan event at the Indiana Convention Center.
Gov. Mitch Daniels said the city's hosting performance was a success by any measure, whether it terms of its economic impact, the work of nonprofit groups that supported the game and the positive light it cast on Indianapolis.
"We're incredibly proud of what happened here," he said.
Host committee Chairman Mark Miles said the committee had about $1.8 million in corporate donations for this year's game left over to use in the city's bid for the 2018 game.
Miles said organizers and city officials decided that 2018 was the earliest Super Bowl the city could offer a bid for because the city is committed to hosting Final Fours in 2015 and 2016 and is pursuing U.S. Olympic trials in 2016.
"We have a lot of irons in the fire already and that's one of the considerations," he said.
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