Universal and much deserved acclaim for Indianapolis in their hosting of the Super Bowl. Well done. Take a bow. Being from Iowa, which many consider the Ass-End of America, I'm always happy to see an overlooked city rise up and kick people in the face with its awesomeness.
Local government reportedly bent over backwards to give the NFL incentives to come to town. It's unfortunate that us little guys have to lob cash at Big Deal Players like the Super Bowl to get even a look from them, but that's the way the world is. The positive pub for the town is most likely worth about 10x what Indy spent. And by coming through in such a great way, Indianapolis has given life and hope to a whole bunch of so-called "second tier" cities.
I appreciate the fan pride in the 500, but let's no get carried away. Comparing any sporting event to the Super Bowl is like comparing a lit match to the sun. Don't even go there.
I will say, however, that the Indy 500 could learn a thing or two from the Super Bowl. If, indeed, the Indy 500 is a BIGGER or nearly as big of an event as the Super Bowl, the efforts to attract us out-of-towners do not show well in comparison to what Indy did for the Super Bowl.
No sane person would suggest Indianapolis spend lavish, Super Bowl-level cash or energy on the 500 every year. That is NOT what I am suggesting at all. But the 500 does need to plus up its out-of-town draw, in my opinion. Right now we have a smattering of small invite-only events, Carb Day (Friday) featuring rockers older than me (and that's pretty old), a DEAD ZONE at the track on Saturday and a parade downtown.
No diss on the parade, but .... If you want to attract a big crowd from out of town and make the 500 a Super Bowlish bucket list event for far more people, the weekend needs to be more packaged and aimed at fans.
My idea is to create a fan village inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- God knows they have the room -- with some fan experience stuff along the lines of the Indy Super Bowl Village. Toss $1 million at it and you're probably set for 10 years. Put in a zip line, get vendors in there for bars/entertainment areas, have a rocking all-day music festival, tons of stuff for the kiddies. Make Saturday an all-day party at IMS. Kids and families during the day, the sane adults in the evening and even the hooligans into the night.
Let's hear your ideas below. A full weekend of stuff would make the 500 more attractive for people who will drive multiple hours or even jet in for it. Again, nobody should suggest Indy drop Super Bowl-level cash on hosting the event, but clearly they could step up what they do now.