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February 23, 2012

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Ricky


Natalie, I appreciate the observation. Having written a similar blog on another sports-engrained city, Augusta, GA, I understand some of the issues you bring up. When a major sports event comes through a city, does it actually benefit? A lot of money comes into town for a few days, and just as quickly as it came, it is gone. I’m reminded especially of the Olympics, and the ridiculous amount (whether justified or not hundreds of millions of dollars is a lot) that cities spend on hosting them. I recently read that London is already worried about losing out financially on the deal, especially in light of the recent economic recession. Your question seems to be, is the publicity and the infrastructure development enough to warrant going into the red? Is this enough to be globally competitive?

I think the short answer is no. I would consider, however, how the city is prepared to leverage the event. For instance, I’m particularly thinking about Barcelona and the improvements it made preparing for the Olympic Games. If I recall correctly their roadway system improved dramatically and became a resource they continued to use in partnership with economic growth. Surely, they needed to redefine themselves as a global city and encourage innovation. However, it wasn’t simply “let’s build a whole lot of stadiums we will never use again”. The improvements, in my mind, were a more concerted effort to serve the city as well. The idea behind a more walkable Indianapolis holds that potential IF they can coordinate it with growth.

So how do you promote economic growth? Well I don’t really know. There are tons of theories surrounding it, and some work and others don’t. I’m not sure how that should play out for Indianapolis. I will say, however, that Barcelona was ready to enter the world stage when they hosted the Olympics. In other words, besides simply making their city look pretty they were prepared to advertise the global positioning of their economy for business interests attracted by the Games. I’d say a key to making big events like the Super Bowl or the Olympics then is not simply making the event enjoyable (as Indianapolis obviously did), but by coordinating for how the city can benefit economically 10 or 20 years beyond. This may require innovative partnerships or strategies to utilize publicity and investments, but I think cities can really benefit. I’m interested now to see if Indianapolis does. Thanks Natalie!

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