Thursday, July 19, 2012

Super Again?

Yesterday, Mayor Greg Ballard announced that Indianapolis will be bidding again for one of the signature sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl.  While the chatter around the city and on some of the sports talk shows was pretty gung ho on the idea, I must admit that I'm a little concerned.

We are coming off one of the best Super Bowl's in history from an organizational standpoint, and it happened right here.  Indianapolis did a fabulous job hosting the Super Bowl, and it would be extraordinary for us to get another one just six years after the first one.  It would do great things for this city's prestige and its position on the world stage.  I am absolutely not opposed to it.  I would just hope that along the way we would make sure our financial house is in order.

When I first heard about the prospect of another bid, my initial reaction was strongly against it.  My friends on Facebook from both sides of the aisle talked me down from the ledge by telling me that oftentimes cities lose money in order to gain money on the back end and in the future.  I'm not sure I agree with that mentality, but it is hard for me to say another Super Bowl would be all bad for Indy.  I can't jump to that extreme.

I just find it a big hard to swallow when I know we have a budget deficit coming up, and, thanks to the state's incredibly tight wallet, it doesn't look like we can expect any of the cuts to local government funding to come flowing back in.  If we don't find a way to change things at the city level, our deficits are going to get bigger and bigger.  Can we really afford an expensive bid?

I guess the big question will be: What's in the bid?  After all, Indianapolis now knows how to run a successful Super Bowl.  The city is probably more adept than most at running events of that size and scope than many other cities in the United States, and there should not be a whole lot of extra expenditures needed in building up infrastructure as we've seen the city spend tons of cash doing that for the 2012 event.  

On the other hand, you can't just photocopy the bid for the 2012 Super Bowl and send it through again.  Something will have to be changed and different.  I get that, and it only makes sense.

I guess, as I get to my point, all I'm saying is that we just need to make sure Indy's priorities are met first.  It's kind of like paying all your bills first and putting money away in the savings account before you go out to Fogo de Chao for that expensive dinner.  Sure, the dinner's going to be delicious, but it's going to cost you.

Indy must make sure that public safety is, as Mayor Ballard has said, truly job one. We need to make sure that our libraries and parks are funded. We need to make sure that our budget is in order. While bidding for this next Super Bowl, we need to make sure that Indianapolis doesn't end up like some of those other municipalities out there that are finding themselves deep in the hole.

It's going to be a different landscape for Mayor Ballard this time around.  He can't count on 14 votes (plus Ed Coleman) on the City-County Council.  He now has Maggie Lewis and the Democrats in charge there...even if he won't meet with them or hardly acknowledge their existence at times.  He's going to need a little more acumen and finesse this time around.  I believe my concerns here will likely be met in this process.

It could be a win for the city if it's played the right way.  Let's hope that we can find a good way to take care of both our city's priorities and bidding for the next big event.

I received an e-mail from someone saying that I was being a little tough on Ed Coleman and his time on the Council.  They pointed out a number of votes where Coleman actually stood out against the Mayor.  Thus, I cross that line out and say, if he's reading...SORRY ED.  


IndyDem said...

And we have to make sure that this windfall is spread a bit more broad than just to the hotels, bars and restaurants.
At worst, we need to ensure that businesses that wont attract a market of out of towners dont LOSE money because of the SB. We need to make sure we dont Give Away the Farm to the NFL. This deal should work for both the NFL and the City.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Bottom line is if a Super Bowl were a good investment for a city, then cities would be lined up to host these things. Instead only a handful of cities bid on hosting, mostly because the NFL's demands on the host city are so onerous and expensive.

There might be other reasons to host...civic pride, for example. But I am highly skeptical of any claim that it's a great investment in terms of more dollars received than spent.