Community Impact of Super Bowl 46: The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Tis the season for big TVs, big bets and funny overpriced commercials.  You know (or can guess) the ginormous economic and PR impact hosting the Super Bowl can have on a city – but the community impact of the spectacle is both beautiful and awful at the same time. And both will be felt long after the crowds leave and the empty beer cans are tossed.

The good

Legacy Project

Every year the NFL gives the host city 1 million dollars to be matched locally to renovate a community center, revitalize a school or make some sort of ‘lasting legacy’ of community impact for hosting the game.  It’s like taking a bottle of wine as a hostess gift. A $1 million bottle of wine.  Indy thought bigger and the Legacy Project was touted as one of the leading reasons the city was awarded the big game.  Today over $154 million has been invested in the Near Eastside including 21, that’s right 21 neighborhoods. It’s the shining gem of the event and it’s simply incredible.

First & Green

It’s a web-based program where participants log environmentally friendly activities, like carpooling and taking shorter showers. Together they offset 1.4M pounds of carbon and saved 2.5M gallons of water…oh, and planted 2012 trees.

Super Cure

Fun fact: Indianapolis has the world’s only breast tissue bank, so the host committee built an effort around raising funds and collecting breast tissue donations (both living and cancerous). Though I’m usually not a fan of all the pink, well done ladies, well done.

The State of the Union

A goal of the host-committee was to show that it wasn’t just Indianapolis’ game, it belonged to the whole state. Prepping for chilly weather, volunteers (including grandmas and prisoners) knitted over 13,000 scarves for visitors, kids from everywhere wrote over 36,000 welcome messages for hotel guests and Indy Car produced one-of-a-kind Indy cars of every team that are positioned around the state connecting those outside the beltway to the big game and encouraging visitors to see all the state has to offer.

The bad

Not hiding (but not helping) the homeless

Detroit, Dallas and Jacksonville all attempted to round-up, hide or displace the homeless in their cities during game week fearing a negative impression. Instead, the bad PR did much worse. Indy made the commitment, for the first time in recent memory, do what no other host-city had done. Nothing.  Wouldn’t you think, though, that will the several community efforts listed here (and there are many more) that the host committee would have first planned a major effort around the social issue that other cities had been worried about – and the one that would be most visible to visitors? Maybe not.

Anti-social media

The host committee is making this the most ‘connected’ Super Bowl yet including an incredible 2800 sq ft social media command center with 20 people working 15 hour days.  Think NASA meets Minority Report meets Twitter.  They then selected 46 social media mavens, based on a Klout perk to be social media ambassadors, promote things, etc. Problem is, some people freaked out, felt uncool and have divided the once close-knit Indy social media community. Can’t we all just be Facebook friends?

Super Baskets…of Bibles?

Baskets of ‘hope’ were collected and sent to over 7000 sick kids in the 32 NFL cities. Brilliant and touching, right? Interestingly, every one had a bible in it. Even more interesting is that the NFL and several media outlets, organizations and companies have promoted it so hard – considering the religious connection. I’m a occasional church goer – but sending sick children bibles as a sign of ‘hope’ – under the guise and logo of the Super Bowl – seems odd to me.

UPDATE: According to Jon Collins – the bibles are actually in ‘totes’ and parents have the option of accepting religious materials…

The ugly

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is the eye-sore of the weekend. It’s estimated that 10,000 sex workers were sent to Miami in 2010 and Dallas made 133 prostitution arrests last year. Have no fear – the nuns are here! Some will slip through but the city is prepared and laws have been toughened just in time.

It’s easy to see that the good heavily outweighs the bad.  Congrats Indy (and more-over the host-committee), on the immediate AND long-lasting impact of your efforts on our great city, state and beyond.  Let the game begin.

6 thoughts on “Community Impact of Super Bowl 46: The Good, Bad & the Ugly

  1. One slight change is needed:

    Indy Car produced one-of-a-kind F-1 cars of every team that are positioned around the state connecting those outside the beltway to the big game and encouraging visitors to see all the state has to offer.

    Those are Indy cars, not F-1 cars. They’re the older generation cars, built by Dallara (they may have snuck an old Panoz in there as well).

    There are two new-generation “Dan Wheldon” chassis built by Dallara & decked out in Giants & Pats colors on Georgia Street (I think).

  2. Great stuff, as always. Clearly, the Superbowl is a boon to Indianapolis, if not the entire Hoosier State. However, as a fan of one of the teams, I have to pop your bubble: the game should have never been awarded to Indy.

    Superbowls have recently become great cause marketing events, but the philanthropic dollars spent pale in comparison with the party ones. No offense, but no one — not even a Giants fan living a short drive away in Chicago — wants to go to Indianapolis in February. Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, LA, San Diego and Vegas (if they ever get a legit stadium) are the only cities that should host Superbowls. The philanthropic outreach may be comparable, but NFL tourists want to spend their money in warm, fun locales with outdoor events, tailgating, copious hotel space and direct flights from most major American cities.

    All that said, enjoy the game Indy. You won’t have another one in your backyard until you build your next new stadium.

    1. Hi Staci & thx for the question. No, giving kids a bible isn’t bad. I just thought it was interesting that so many corporate brands (who normally are quick to remain secular) would endorse the effort. I also learned later that the bibles weren’t so much for the kids, but for the parents and were given separately and optional.

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