"We'll get one and that's just the way I feel. Everyone has to keep their heads up and know that we have a terrific city and it will happen for us someday. It's tough … because you don't like to lose."
-- Colts owner Jim Irsay on May 22, 2007 at the NFL spring meeting in Nashville after North Texas beat Indianapolis to earn Super Bowl XLV in 2011
Later Monday at this year's NFL Spring Meeting in Atlanta, the competing cities -- Indianapolis, Houston and Phoenix -- draw to determine the order of their 15-minute presentations set for Tuesday morning. Then the owners privately discuss and vote. If no team gains a three-fourths vote, the city with the lowest number of votes is axed. Then a majority vote is held to determine the winner.
It will be Indianapolis.
It has to be Indianapolis.
Teams have been told for the last few years that if they build new stadiums, Super Bowls in them will come. It has already happened for Arizona (three months ago) and Houston (four years ago), Indy's competition. It will happen in 2011 for Dallas in its new palace. The Colts open $750 million-dollar Lucas Oil Stadium in August.
Northern cities have been told for several years that if they build domed stadiums, extra efforts will be made to award those cities a Super Bowl. It happened for Detroit four years ago. The league wants to continue occasionally spreading the game to domed stadiums in colder climates, and Indianapolis fits that description.
This is it.
"These other cities and teams are strong competition for us and I never feel comfortable in a situation like this," Irsay said. "I'm like that in a game where we have a 20-point lead with one minute left. And I'm not saying that's where we are in this race, just that I'm only optimistic and hopeful. It's pressurized, but I'm hoping it turns out differently this time.
"We have a public/private-funded stadium that is, I believe, the best in the world. I put $100 million into it and our city $650 million. We have generated an extra $25 million in donations for the league for operating costs. Our square footage went from 900 (thousand) in the old place to 1.8 million. It is environmentally friendly. I think it sends an important message to teams and cities that if you work together and get new stadiums done and build on long-term relationships that benefit the NFL, that the Super Bowl is a realistic reward for all of that. This isn't so much about the Colts. The people of Indianapolis and of Indiana deserve it."
And the more than half-a-billion dollars that such a game can generate for a region, as evidenced by Arizona's report of the economic boon the last Super Bowl created.
The league in recent years has shown a willingness to incorporate other member cities in some of its signature events. An additional Thanksgiving Day game was added to share that experience throughout the league. There are discussions ongoing about moving the draft to various venues.
And there is an understanding of the value of playing the Super Bowl in some of the league's smaller markets and in a centralized region like Indianapolis that would make travel to the game easier from the nation's four corners.
Last year's decision hurt Irsay. His entire group.
His new stadium will hold nearly 73,000 while the new one for Dallas will hold more than 100,000. That was the killer.
There is no such Goliath stadium competition this time around. Irsay and his team have done what the Colts always do when persevering: "We picked ourselves up and got back up on that horse," he said.
With horeshoes clacking.
I say it's Indy in a slam dunk.
Or should be.
"We're in our 41st year in the league," Irsay said. "We've had second- and third-generation ownership. When we got into the league a long, long time ago, Nixon was president and we were in the Vietnam War. We've had ownership through three wars. We've been helping to push this league for a very long time.
"We're putting everything on the table, everything we've got into it. We know that the Super Bowl should benefit the league more than an individual city but we believe we can do both. The understanding is that if you make a good bid and your stadium is done and you are in good standing with your partners, you will be able to get a Super Bowl."
Tampa in 2009. South Florida in 2010. North Texas in 2011.
It has to be Indianapolis in 2012.