INDIANAPOLIS | Now that the NFL has picked its two newest Super Bowl winners, San Francisco (2016) and Houston (2017), Indianapolis organizers can start making their pitch to host a second title game.
Later this summer, the city's bid committee is expected to formally approve a motion that would allow the formal bidding process to begin.
Committee members first met last July and initially approved the idea of moving forward, and after Tuesday's announcement at the league's meetings, Indiana Sports Corp. president Allison Melangton said she expected Indianapolis to join the 2018 Super Bowl fray later this year.
"I would be very surprised if we didn't bid on it," she told reporters in a room overlooking Lucas Oil Stadium at the organization's downtown headquarters. "Last July when we did the evaluation, there weren't any red flags for us. I know a lot can happen in a year, so we'll review the material we got last July and see if any concerns have cropped up. But it would surprise me if we didn't go forward."
The only time Indianapolis has hosted the NFL's championship game was in 2012 when the New York Giants beat New England on the Colts' home turf.
It was a big hit.
With unseasonably warm temperatures, the Super Bowl village and the close proximity between hotels, restaurants and the stadium, league officials and media members repeatedly praised the city and the host committee for the way they had put on what many local fans considered a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Melangton noted that each of the three bids NFL owners considered Tuesday included a Super Bowl village area, something that had never been done prior to Indy. Miami wound up losing in both rounds of voting.
She also noted that the television clips demonstrated how the cities made their sales pitches -- Miami relied on the experience of hosting a multitude of Super Bowls, San Francisco positioned itself as the technological capital of the world and promised to use that creativity to put on the game and Houston promised to make the game a community event, much like Indy did in 2012.
Who would Indy be up against?
New Orleans has already announced its intention to bid, trying to incorporate the big game into the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city. The game also could coincide with Mardi Gras festivities.
Denver, too, has expressed interest. The NFL will hold its first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city in February in New Jersey. But with invitations going out to the city finalists in October, Denver may have to make its formal bid before reviews come in from this year's Super Bowl.
"I don't' think it will affect us at all because we have a roof and they don't," Melangton said when asked how the outdoor game could impact Super Bowl hopefuls. "If it goes really well and the experience inside the stadium is great, then I think it will crack the door open potentially to waive that."
Miami could make another bid, too, though Melangton noted that when the Florida state legislature failed to pass a stadium-funding measure, it may have cost the city the Super Bowl. That debate is not likely to be resolved when cities apply to become Super Bowl host site finalists in August.
Indy also could be up against Atlanta and Minnesota, which are building new stadiums, though any delays could push those cities out of the running for 2018.
But one factor that could play into Indy's favor is financing.
In each of Indy's previous two Super Bowl bids, organizers raised $25 million in private funding to put on the game. Melangton said the bid committee would follow the same plan this time even though they have not started collecting money.
"We were the first city that did it to that point and I believe we are the only community to have done it since and we would do that again," she said.
Melangton said analysts determined the 2012 Super Bowl created a direct economic impact of $176 million for Indianapolis and a gross economic impact of $342 million.
Organizers will start with a clean slate, hoping to come up with new ideas that will impress owners enough to give Indy a second chance. Mark Miles, the previous chairman of the board, will soon be stepping down, too. Miles took over as CEO of Hulman & Co., the family-owned business that is in charge of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series among other business ventures.
But Melangton is hoping Indy's first experience with the game will give it a leg up in the next round of bidding.
A final vote would be held next May.
"I feel like we did a really great job the first time, and I feel like we can do another great job," Melangton said. "I feel like we can present a very compelling bid that would be worth serious consideration."