INDIANAPOLIS – The city of Indianapolis long has held a reputation as one of America's great sporting cities.
City leaders developed a mindset in the 1970s to use sports as a template to invigorate a national image, and the reputation started to build.
The city looked to attract the Super Bowl in 1989, but did not succeed in its bid. The effort to attract Super Bowl XLV was not successful, but Indianapolis won the chance to host Super Bowl XLVI.
As with all other previous "big-time" events, Indianapolis knocked the ball out of the park. More than 265,000 visitors toured the NFL Experience, and countless thousands visited the Super Bowl Village. Initiatives like the YET Center and other revitalizations on the near eastside drew praise in NFL circles. National media covering the event praised the city's accommodation efforts, as well as a compact nature that made covering the game and enjoying the atmosphere convenient. The game itself had a climactic ending that kept the outcome in doubt until an incomplete pass in the end zone at the gun determined the winner – the New York Giants, 21-17.
At the final Super Bowl press conference on Monday that honored Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin and MVP Eli Manning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke again of the outstanding efforts by so many local individuals and entities.
"Let me start by thanking the people of Indianapolis, starting with Jim Irsay and the Colts organization for pursuing the Super Bowl here in Indianapolis and their great leadership," said Goodell. "The people did a fantastic job here, from the Super Bowl Host Committee to all the volunteers, to the leadership starting with Governor (Mitch) Daniels, Mayor (Greg) Ballard.
"We can't say enough about the tremendous work that everybody did. I see (Host Committee Chairman) Mark (Miles) over here with the Super Bowl Host Committee. It was just an extraordinary effort and a great event, so we thank you all for a great week and a tremendous Super Bowl."
Goodell presides over a sport that is treasured worldwide. Each of the past three Super Bowls set television rating records, with Super Bowl XLV being witnessed by nearly 163 million viewers.
Though numbers are not available for Sunday's game, early estimates provided to Goodell show the chance that a fourth straight year of record viewership is possible. Regardless of the number, viewers saw a compelling finish, and Indianapolis was showcased along the way.
"The game itself speaks for itself, another fantastic finish and probably another fitting way to conclude our season," said Goodell. "A lot of unscripted drama during the season and unpredictable finishes, and we had another one yesterday that will go down in the record books. In fact, I just got an e-mail that looks like the rating was either on par or slightly ahead of last year's rating, which was, as you all remember, the largest audience for a television show, not just a sports show – the largest television show in the history of television. Another extraordinary audience got to see a great football game, which makes us all happy."
Present with the two Giants, Goodell commended Manning and his teammates. Manning earned his second Super Bowl MVP award, and the game provided league followers with a contest to celebrate and discuss for years.
"As far as individual performances, which is not our game, but is certainly important, Eli Manning just put in an unbelievable performance last night along with his teammates, but Eli really stood above that and played fantastic," said Goodell. "He's only the fifth player to be named on a multiple basis as MVP of the Super Bowl, and he joins a pretty elite group of quarterbacks that achieved that (Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Tom Brady and Joe Montana).
"To the Giants, congratulations on the Super Bowl. To Eli, congratulations on the Super Bowl, I know that's most important to you, but also, we're thrilled to have you as the Pete Rozelle MVP Award winner."