Excitement and fun are crawling around Indianapolis this week as the Circle City prepares to host thousands in anticipation for America’s favourite informal holiday, the Super Bowl. Taking place this Sunday February 5th, the championship game this year sees AFC and NFC title holders, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants battling it out again after four years of what some may consider the best finish in Super Bowl history, given the fact that neither team this time around has perfect records on the line. This matchup is bound to be tight and quite thrilling!
I'm not ashamed to say this but I will mention that I am an Indianapolis Colts fan. Yes, I bleed blue and after the crummy season we had, it's not surprising to see some of us fell off the bandwagon but we did have two wins near the end so that’s alright with me. As a fan not just of the team but of the great state of Indiana, I am especially proud that the city gets to showcase itself and all that it’s about to a new audience that’s willing to take in and adore a city that isn’t just gorgeous architecturally, culturally and for reasons of sport but has a tremendous heart. I guess there's redemption in there for the Colts and us fans; a renewal of fan-ship in some sense because call it what you will -- perhaps it's Hoosier hospitality, but these fine folks know how to throw a party and the days leading up to the Super Bowl are clearly proving it.
Now, for those wondering (because there are a few, believe it or not), the Super Bowl is the ultimate championship game of the NFL and is the highest level of professional American football played in the United States. The first ever Super Bowl took place on January 15, 1967 and was a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. The Packers being the victor then, scoring 3 second-half touchdowns en route to a 35-10 win over the Chiefs was a game many tuned into. Though the age of viewership back then was nothing compared to today, as of recent times, the Super Bowl has a large television viewership being hailed as the most watched television program of the year. The New York-based media researching firm, Initiative measured the global audience for the 2005 Super Bowl at 93 million people, with 98% of that figure belonging to North American viewers, with an estimate of 2 million people outside of the continent watching the game.
This year, the world gets to be a little more acquainted with the great city of Indianapolis, known lovingly as Indy and their famed Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts. The stadium, which opened up in August of 2008 is just one of the many sights in the city. Normally it seats 63,000 but will be increased to more than 70,000 for Super Bowl XLVI and for good reason. With the unlimited number of great things to do in Indy in the week leading up to the main event, not only will ticket holders to the game be experiencing the championship matchup first-hand from their stadium seats but tourists who are visiting the state and residents can take part in the events lined up as part of the overall NFL experience.
It’s unfortunate but not everyone who’s a fan of football or either team playing this year in the championship for that matter will be able to make it to the Super Bowl. Trust me, I have tried. I have tried every possible way to get to Super Bowl XLVI but those tickets cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes more actually – but the case is, they’re quite costly. For me, personally, to avoid any restraining orders from the state, I have restrained myself and decided to admire from my television set and a box of crispy chicken wings doused in Sweet Baby Ray’s. It's not a bad plan. That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the Circle City if you are in town but aren't attending the game.
For one, there’s the NFL Experience, produced by the National Football League, held at the Indiana Convention Centre from January 27 to February 4. The NFL Experience is a football fan’s dream. Presented by GMC, the exciting event is an interactive theme park offering participatory games, displays, entertainment attractions, children’s football clinics, free autograph sessions and the largest football memorabilia show ever. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children 12 years of age and under. You can call (866) TIX-4NFL or visit Ticketmaster.com or visit the NFL Experience’s box office at the Indiana Convention Centre. The tickets include all games and attractions and once you’re in, you can stay as long as you want.
If you want to go out with your family and friends on a budget though perhaps the NFL Experience isn’t for you but don’t be disheartened. One destination all visitors and Hoosiers should definitely make a priority to check out this week is the Super Bowl Village, a three-block stretch of Georgia Street between Conseco Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Centre. Known as the Epicentre of Awesome, it’s completely free and will be the closest thing the Midwest has to the Vegas strip! The Super Bowl Village is now opened till February 5 and includes two concert stages that will play host to 80 local, regional and national acts, high-definition jumbo screens wrapped around skywalks and surrounding architecture as well as light shows and cutting-edge digital mapping on surrounding buildings. Inside the village is Tailgate Town (or Touchdown Alley) which is bound to captivate visitors and hold their attention while engaging into the whole football experience, complete with tailgate competitions and interactive games on football turf, providing an exciting event for fans.
There are many fun activities going on in the Super Bowl Village, like the Zipline which runs a tandem down Capital Avenue and is the longest temporary zipline in the United States. Tickets for the zipline are sold on-site daily. Another activity to check out is the Super Dash located in the heart of the village on Georgia Street. It may sound hilarious and silly to attempt but it’s bound to bring about some chuckles and laughs. There are two human-powered wheels, one dedicated to each fan base of the competing Super Bowl teams and if it sounds like a hamster wheel, well you’re right! When fans get inside the wheel and begin running, lights will begin to illuminate every 10 yards until they reach 100 yards, giving them the feeling of running an actual football field’s length like their favourite players. The top 100-yard dash scores will be announced daily and on game day, the team that generated the most energy will be crowned the champions.
Be sure to head to the Pan Am Plaza as well, located just south of the Super Bowl Village and get your game face on! ESPN will be shooting nearly 100 hours of programming leading up to the championship game. With shows like Mike & Mike in the Morning and SportsNation broadcasting live for a week, you can say hi to mom and grandma as many times as you can.
Now with the village being outdoors, there are concerns about weather but if there’s one thing I know about Hoosiers, it’s that they’re generous and their cordial side comes second nature. Being as it is winter and with the fluctuating temperatures being what they are and occasionally getting into frigidly low digits, warming zones are put up in the village, located along the pedestrian walkway in the middle of Georgia Street. The infrared heaters hope to give those visiting a spot to get warm and extend their stay while exploring the city’s sights. They will be turned on during all Super Bowl Village events and are designed to raise the temperature of any stationary object, 30 to 40 degrees without wind.
With Indiana being known for the famed Indy 500 and as the "Racing Capital of the World", their rich auto-racing history is integrating with the NFL in some form, adding a unique chapter to the Super Bowl’s history. Super Cars is a program that takes iconic Indy designed cars and fuses them with NFL teams, providing fans the chance to meet up with the unique cars and earn rewards through FourSquare. This past week, the cars were showcased in the heart of downtown Indy but relocated to Super Celebration Sites, in hopes that everyone around the area would get a chance to see the 33 Indy Cars, each sporting custom NFL designed graphics and team logos.
To see more events and activities taking place, be sure to check out the Event Calendar from the Indianapolis Super Bowl Guide.
One thing that springs to mind about football is definitely the food and Indianapolis won't fail on that. Those visiting the city for the Super Bowl and checking out the events downtown or just sightseeing will definitely be famished after running hamster wheels and ziplines. There are hundreds of restaurants opened not just in the city but outside of downtown to help serve the thousands of visitors and residents with many opened till late. In celebration of the Super Bowl, the state of Indiana held an interesting Super 46 Sandwich contest, in hopes of finding the best sandwich in the state. Week after week, sandwiches were voted in and made the cut into wildcard, divisional and conference rounds, now heading into the playoffs which are still open to voting, till February 2nd. To see the champions of each division and find a delectable sandwich place near you while in town, check out the Super 46.
Indy is known for hosting huge events but the Super Bowl definitely takes the cake with regards to attendance this year. Hotels in the downtown area have been sold out from well over a year ago and the decent ones in and around Indy have been booked for a while. If you’re going to make a trip down to Indy and need a hotel, check out the NFL’s official Super Bowl Lodging Guide.
If you’re in the city for the game, a tourist or just a resident, checking out the experience, I wish you much fun! If you haven’t guessed already, I’m not from Indiana nor am a Hoosier but I often feel my heart is, for good reason. I have nothing but love and respect for this state and all that it’s given me and am so ecstatic that they’re hosting the Super Bowl. There’s so much to do and see around the city without limiting yourself to just the NFL connection. Indiana's Indianapolis, rich with history and culture is the state’s largest city, second largest in the Midwest behind Chicago. Not only does it have some striking style but it’s bound to keep you on your toes with all the excitement taking place, day after day.
The NFL’s Super Bowl XLVI will take place on February 5, 2012 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana and broadcast nationally on NBC. Kick-off is scheduled for 6:30PM EST, check your local listings.
For more information on the events and attractions of Indianapolis’ hosting duties for the Super Bowl, be sure to check out:
- Start Your Engines: The Indianapolis 500 Celebrates 100 Years!
- Fire Up The Grill: National Hamburger Day is May 28th!
- And it's a Touchdown! - Ten of the Best Football Movies