Watch and learn: Lessons from Dallas help Indy plan for XLVI

INDIANAPOLIS -- The next Super Bowl host city, some 900 miles northeast of Dallas, is well prepared for the type of back-to-back storms that snarled traffic and the best-laid Super Bowl plans in North Texas in the days leading up to Sunday's game, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday.

Ballard, who went to Dallas with a committee of Indianapolis' Super Bowl planners, said North Texas staged a good event despite its troubles clearing snow and ice and fans' woes dealing with flight cancellations, traffic backups, slick sidewalks and some canceled pregame festivities.

"A lot of things went right down there," Ballard told reporters at Indianapolis International Airport. "They just had that extremely odd variable with the weather; it was just bad luck. They handled that the best they could."

The next Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Ballard said Indiana's capital city is "really prepared for any type of weather" even as he acknowledged that the same massive storm system that dumped on Dallas early last week also created problems in Indianapolis, where residents are still battling to chip away at a thick layer of ice and sleet.

"I don't expect this to repeat next year, but if it does we'll handle it," he said.

Indianapolis Super Bowl committee chairman Mark Miles said one advantage his city has over Dallas is that the events all will be held downtown. In Dallas, organizers intentionally put major NFL events as many as 30 miles apart to emphasize the Super Bowl's regional efforts.

Miles also noted Indianapolis has a unified city and county government structure that should simplify communications between jurisdictions and law enforcement.

Ballard, Miles and others planning next year's Super Bowl shadowed their Dallas counterparts in the days leading up to the game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers and on game day.

Ballard said Dallas city planners also will brief Indianapolis Super Bowl officials in a few weeks on the successes and failures of this year's game, including the last-minute shortage of seating at Cowboys Stadium. From that briefing, Miles said he's most interested in how the Dallas area did financially from the Super Bowl and areas where unexpected costs arose.

"We've got our budget planners planning for the unexpected," he said. "We've got to have a plan for every imaginable contingency -- plans that don't work out the way you'd expect."

Although there are lingering concerns that an NFL work stoppage could force postponement or cancellation of next year's Super Bowl, Indianapolis is forging ahead with its plans to stage the game in its cold-weather climate. That includes an $11 million facelift of a downtown street that organizers boast will treat fans with an Olympic-style village with a Super Bowl theme.

"We understand that Indianapolis' Super Bowl won't be the biggest ever, but our ambition is to see if we can't make it the best," Ballard said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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