They had a great plan, a great pitch, and a great chance. But in the end, the city of Indianapolis lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl in a vote taken today by the 32 NFL Owners. Minneapolis, Minnesota was awarded the big game in 2018.
Indianapolis, the incredibly successful and universally acclaimed host city of the 2012 Super Bowl, made it into the final three finalists with New Orleans and Minneapolis. New Orleans had never lost a Super Bowl bid as a finalist before, going 10-for-10, and they seemed like the clear favorites entering the day. Indianapolis, however, pulled off a very successful Super Bowl in 2012 and were going for another one, which was certainly a real possibility, especially after they made it into the final three.
Colts owner Jim Irsay, former Colts center Jeff Saturday, and Indiana Sports Corporation president Allison Melangton all presented Indy's bid to the owners, and the bid included a video from former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett as well. Saturday was really the team's big weapon and was the one who they hoped would really help to sway the owners. Saturday is incredibly respected in Indianapolis and throughout the entire league, as (in addition to other things) he played a key role in resolving the NFL lockout in 2011. Of competing against New Orleans for the right to host the Super Bowl in 2018, Saturday said, "It is a little personal issue. I would not want to lose to them twice for the biggest game in our (sport)." He was, of course, referring to the Super Bowl the Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints to end the 2009 season.
Per the Indianapolis Star, Jim Irsay (who, by the way, is already looking much better) said of Jeff Saturday's role in the presentation:
"I think Jeff Saturday is kind of playing quarterback now. He's emerged from the offensive line and the anonymity of only getting called out for a holding call or something. He's got the ball in his hands in a big way. His reputation and integrity mean so much. Everyone in Indianapolis knows Jeff and how he is respected by every owner in the league. He's really going to do a great job and we're all ready to give it our best shot this afternoon."
Saturday and the rest of the group representing Indianapolis certainly did give it their best shot, but in the end, they lost to a city with a new stadium in the works - sending a crystal-clear message to everybody that if you build a new stadium, you'll be all-but-guaranteed of hosting a Super Bowl at some point. Minnesota's new stadium beat out New Orleans (previously 10-for-10 on Super Bowl bids as a finalist) and Indianapolis (who pulled off a great host performance in 2012 and have what has been ranked the best stadium in the NFL for two years running now).
While it's disappointing that Indy won't be hosting the 2018 Super Bowl, it doesn't change that fact that it has emerged as one of the country's premier sporting cities and they'll likely be hosting another Super Bowl at some point in the future - though it's too early to determine when the city will bid for another one. And, furthermore, the Colts are building a team that is close to competing for Super Bowls on the field. So even though Indianapolis lost out on hosting the 2018 Super Bowl, there's a very real chance that the Colts will bring the city a Super Bowl title before then.