INDIANAPOLIS – The reach of a Super Bowl has grown in recent years to being seen by more than 160 million television viewers.
The impact of the game at the Super Bowl site is very real as approximately 150,000 people visit for the game and the week's festivities. Most of the revelers then go home.
The NFL, years ago, wanted host sites to have a positive landmark that stands to serve a host community long after the championship week is concluded.
To that end, NFL Charities donates $1 million annually as part of its Super Bowl Legacy Grant initiative to support underserved youngsters in Super Bowl host cities. For the last 18 years, NFL Charities has supported the construction of Youth Education Towns (YETs) in Super Bowl cities nationwide as a lasting legacy of the game. The YET program is aimed at positively impacting youth in at-risk neighborhoods. This year, NFL Charities contributed $1 million to fund the establishment of the Indianapolis YET.
The Indianapolis YET project had its ribbon-cutting Thursday at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center at 725 North Oriental Street. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay, Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Mark Miles, Representative Andre Carson and Mayor Greg Ballard were among the dignitaries on hand. Current Colts players Antoine Bethea, Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon King took part at the YET christening, as well as former Indianapolis player Geno Riley.
The building was the result of work by Miles, the city and local business leaders who made the outstanding bid to attract the Super Bowl to Indianapolis. In addition to the YET Center, Miles pointed out the city created a Legacy initiative that included housing improvements or constructions involving nearly 400 residences in the eastside and a business corridor with 12 beautification projects.
"What's happening here is the result of so much planning for a long time. We cannot thank the people involved enough, but you do have to give credit to the Host Committee for envisioning so much and being open to opportunities to make sure this event we have here in our city became more than just a game. As a community, we have gone way beyond that," said Ballard. "We have changed lot of people's lives as a result of the Super Bowl coming here, and we will continue to change them into the future. That is a special part of the Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis. We can't thank the Commissioner enough and his team and the (NFL) owners for picking Indianapolis."
"This building and through its programs, we see the type of enduring and incredible impact the Super Bowl is having on our community," said Carson. "These improvements will impact our families and neighbors. We are thankful to have the NFL Youth Education Town here, a program with proven success in helping underserved and at-risk neighborhoods. The challenges for our young people have never been greater, which is why we are so grateful for the NFL's outstanding engagement. Because of the Super Bowl…we can say with confidence this neighborhood is on its way back in a major way."
"Just to see dreams become reality, it's special," said Irsay. "We talked of the day we could be in a facility like this. To see YET develop here is so special. We know our responsibility in the community is real. More than anything when I talk to the young person out there, I say, 'Feed yourself with dreams, with hope, with opportunity. You can become the Commissioner, the Mayor, a doctor, an NFL player, a scholar. Seize your dreams and take advantage of the opportunity.' The future is our youth."
"This is a special day for us in the National Football League because we celebrate this community and give back to this community, along with your (local) leadership," said Goodell. "We believe (this project) will have an impact on this community for several years, long after our game is gone. We're grateful to the near eastside community for their leadership and for this facility they've put together here and down the road for the development. It's a great statement about this community and what you expect to get out of this Super Bowl.
"This is not just the NFL's vision, this is Jim Irsay's leadership and vision also. He has believed very strongly in the Colts and what it means in this community. He does that every day. I think you're fortunate to have a terrific owner like Jim Irsay.
"I want to thank our players (here, who held a youth clinic before the dedication ceremony). I want to thank them for not what they do on the field, but their importance and understanding that being an NFL player is not just what you do on the field, it's about what you give back to the community."
The NFL started building YET facilities in 1993, and this is the 18th facility in a program that has dispersed about $21 million. The program started so the NFL could make a lasting impact on communities after the Super Bowl concludes. Goodell noted the facility in Indianapolis was the first one that was completed before the Super Bowl. He commended Miles for the outstanding work he, the city and its business leaders did in exceeding every goal promised during the bidding process to land the game. The Host Committee was lauded by Goodell for its performance and hospitality that serves as an example for other future venues.