It's been a great week here in Indy, building up to a very high energy weekend. I live downtown, so am very close to the action, and ventured to the SB village first TUE and then again last nite. While the city has earned high marks so far, it is absolutely true we have completely lucked out with the weather - a year ago, when CHI got snowed in the area here got 12 inches of ice. If that happened now, it would be an unmitigated disaster
No doubt though, the city has also benefited from solid planning and a unique, truly urban setting for the week-long buildup for the game. A compact downtown, long touted as part of its appeal during the Combine has served as a great setting for the SB village.
This is my 3rd SB - Boys vs BUF '93 at the Rose Bowl where the only pregame buildup I experienced was when an elevator full of Bills cheerleaders at the LAX Marriott literally stopped a lobby full of men in their tracks. Did do South Beach a couple of years back when the Colts got there - wild scene on Ocean Blvd. But neither have been like this.
Tuesdays visit in the late afternoon was to get the lay of the land. A 4 block stretch - from Conseco FieldHouse to the expanded Convention center was turned into a pedestrian mall. There's a stage at the Conseco end - Darius Rucker played there last night and the deservedly famous ZipLine at the other.
Pretty impressive that the high end is about 4-5 stories and runs the entire length of a city block. Pre-paid spots for the 10 days it was open sold out quickly. Not interested in waiting the 3+ hours in line for a walk-up spot.
Also scoped out the ESPN venue on Pan Am Plaza
I was fortunate enough to rent my place out to a local Restaurant owner - he and 3 chefs from his 2 restaurants are staying there THU to MON. Staying with my brother-in-laws, we ventured out last night to get into the ‘spirits' of the proceedings.
A lot of businesses benchmarked similar establishments in other SB cities - in general they are cutting menus by 50%, boosting prices by 30%. They have been told to expect 3 months worth of Revenue in 10 days. We were fortunate to hit an establishment last nite where they know us well as customers, and my stepdaughter worked - bartender ‘comped' the $22 lobster Mac& Cheese and our beers. The $110 bone-in Kobe beef ribeye was definitely full price - and damn good. We did split it because we're frugal that way.
Also checked into a locally famous watering hole/Blues bar and asked about the cover for tonite - there's a band playing we want to see, ‘We don't know yet,' was the response. Supply & Demand, it's beeach. Rumor is somewhere between $50-150. Don't need to hear them that badly.
Energy is way high, as is local pride. I'm from NYC which really doesn't care how it's perceived. But plenty of other towns I've lived are obsessed with their perception - Atlanta, Houston immediately come to mind. Indy rightfully wants to put on a good show and is proud of what its accomplished so far, but I think there's an underlying confidence which underscores its refreshing lack of pretension about how it's viewed.
Started the evening at a highly successful micro-brewery that had a party tent in its parking lot(very common in the SB village). Music from a kick-ass blues band heightened the atmosphere. Strolling into the main venue we were encouraged to join some enthusiastic/attractive ‘hostesses' in into another tent bar. Somehow wound up in the VIP section in front of the stage where Darius Rucker was set to play, but frankly I was in no condition to stand for another 45 minutes after walking about 5 miles all around downtown to/from my place where we parked.
Brushes with fame - talked with Eric Dickerson and Eddie George entering the Bud Lite Hotel(really just a Hampton Inn). Want to see Al Roker - we went to HS in Manhattan together and Hannah Storm, her brother was a very good client of mine at Nike. The only other ‘celebrity' I could potentially see is my college fraternity brother who is GM at CAR - we usually connect at the Combine, though.
It's not all good - in addition to higher prices, and they will get higher as gametime approaches, parking is very tough. Street parking downtown has basically been eliminated, game day parking is rumored to be $75. Talked to one Sushi/cigar bar owner who stated the lack of parking has cost his business 40% of its normal traffic and he's ordered extra food/drink in anticipation of more demand. There are also a lot of 'exclusive' 'VIP' parties that cost between $300 - $800 to get in. Well, they can't be very exclusive if I can get in.
Tonight we hope to get into the NFL Experience
Took a couple of pics on my iPhone, but haven't yet mastered adding photos from my own Gallery