Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Memories, Part 3: The Village and the City

JW Marriott, Super Bowl 46!

The J.W. Marriott was a recent addition to the downtown skyline and clearly marked where the party started,

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once upon a time, and exactly once, Indianapolis hosted a Super Bowl. Back in 2012 our li’l city earned its first chance to host the big game. Thanks to tremendous teamwork among numerous organization and bodies cooperating under Mayor Greg Ballard, the Circle City welcomed untold thousands of visitors for a super-sized weekend of football mania, Hoosier tourism, and limited-time-only activities that welcomed all brought our downtown alive. It was a unique occasion that everyone in town could appreciate, including those of us who aren’t into sports, have never watched an entire football game — nary a Super Bowl, not even for the ads — and have never been invited to a Super Bowl party. We found ways to get into the spirit of the proceedings anyway.

All of this happened three months before Midlife Crisis Crossover launched. At the time I simply shared pics and stories with online friends, then reused a tiny selection of that material here on MCC one year later. I can’t remember why I was so stingy and only reposted eleven photos from among the dozens of relevant ones, including an entire quest involving citywide art. This past week our local media outlets have been holding their tenth-anniversary celebrations of that time we all did a Super Bowl together. That means it’s the perfect time for a remastered version of the tale of how we spent January 27-28, 2012, the weekend before Super Bowl 46…this time in trilogy form!

It all comes down to this: the other stuff we saw in and around downtown Indy in those momentous days when hometown pride was at an all-time high and football fervor dwarfed the local loves of auto racing and our precious basketball for just a bit.

The main exit from the NFL Experience took guests out of the Indiana Convention Center and right into Super Bowl Village. Our city-county government had spent 2011 renovating various portions of downtown, including much-needed expansions on the Convention Center and the addition of that massive, blast-shield-shaped Marriott Hotel in our lead photo, because we absolutely needed more places to put people. To this day those upgrades and overhauls have benefited numerous other events we’ve enjoyed as fans — Gen Con, Indiana Comic Con, Indy Pop Con, HorrorHound Indy, and more. There’s also the annual Future Farmers of America convention, which is not our thing, but when those 50,000+ blue-jacketed teens show up year after year, we can fit more of them in now.

Next door to the Convention Center, the short span of Georgia Street that runs east toward the Pacers’ Fieldhouse was turned into one blocks-long party zone for the occasion. Food booths, jugglers, and warming stations vied for attention with two free stages, one for local bands and one for non-locals. The only performer I recognized on the Friday schedule was Bret Michaels of Poison. Also not my thing. Later that Friday evening, future has-beens LMFAO attracted such a massive audience to their show that IMPD had to close additional blocks so the pinned, claustrophobic attendees could spread out and resume breathing. The streets were much comfier to navigate during daylight hours, but far from deserted.

Super Bowl 46 ziplines!

The greatest temporary attraction besides football was the row of ziplines running above Capitol Avenue from Union Station to Maryland Avenue.

Indianapolis ziplines!

Zipline tickets were sold days in advance and sold extremely well. Would-be daredevils trying to buy onsite waited hours to buy tickets, only to learn their turn wouldn’t come till the next day. ZIPLINE MANIA!

Along the north edge of Georgia Street is Circle Centre Mall, which opened in 1995 to much clamor and a grand ceremony that lured thousands downtown, much as this Super Bowl did. Its charter anchors had included a posh Nordstrom store, whose vacant, echoing carcass was temporarily turned into a makeshift hangout called The Huddle. First floor was food and seating; second floor was a sports clothing store; third floor was a nightclub, which was closed when I passed by at 4 p.m. As of this writing the mall is half dying and their majority owner recently abandoned ship, but at the time they knew how to orchestrate their half of a soiree.

Huddle hats!

Among contributors to the Huddle decor was the hat store called Lids, which provided this big white-cap mobile.

CBS affiliate!

Our local CBS affiliate kept its employees on display in an unused mall space to wave and dance for our amusement. Hopefully they had enough air to last until showtime.

Indy 500 NFL Cars!

Meanwhile over by Monument Circle in the center of the city, a parade of Indy Cars were parked on Meridian Street to show tourists what used to be our indisputable favorite sport before the Pacers and the Colts offered viable alternatives in some years.

Indy 500 football cars!

Closeup of random football-themed Indy cars to share with our friends. Right to left are, we hoped, future Super Bowl champions the San Diego Chargers, the Cleveland Browns, and the Washington Reooohhhh no no nonono omg not them THIS CAPTION IS OVER

Giant XLVI!

In front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was this 30-foot salute to Roman enumeration, pronounced “Zylvie”.

John Carter ad 2012!

New movie trailers are pretty much the only part of the Super Bowl experience that speaks to me. Pro tip: never design your wannabe blockbuster’s ad campaign in Cleveland Browns colors.

Value-added Super Bowl Village bonus: kiosks encouraged passersby to record a free video and show off their mild drunkenness or nagging discomforts to loved ones back home, or let the combination of chilly air and bright sunshine turn you into a rapidly blinking idiot. Hundreds of these “Super Bowl Village Video” shout-outs are still floating around YouTube to this day.

That’s how my solo outing on Friday ended. One day later, Anne and I spent a few hours tracking down the “46 for XLVI” murals and catching a few glimpses of our big little hometown that had nothing to do with the big game and everything to do with everyday life and luster.

Indiana 9/11 Memorial.

The Indiana 9/11 Memorial comprises two 5½-ton WTC beams. Orchestrated by a fire department paramedic who was among the many nationwide responders that convened in NYC to lend assistance, the memorial was dedicated on the tenth anniversary.

Indiana 9/11 Memorial.

Upon the 20th anniversary last year, new additions to the memorial (which we haven’t checked out yet) included a piece of Indiana limestone from the Pentagon’s walls and a survivor tree.

White River Canal!

The peaceful White River Canal, where we saw several of those aforementioned murals. It’s maybe not as fancy as the Riverwalks we’ve seen in San Antonio, Pueblo, or Milwaukee, but it’s ours.

White River Canal!

More of that canal leading behind the Indiana Statehouse and the Marriott.

Kruse Family Stardust Terrace clock!

A canal-side terrace behind the Indiana Historical Society, which we really, really, really should go check out someday.


SQUIRREL! Over by the Indiana State Museum.

Ann Dancing!

On the opposite end of downtown is Mass Ave, our trendiest, arts-minded district. Their best feature is Julian Opie’s 2007 classic “Ann Dancing”, an LED-animated hoofer. If only we could hear the tunes in her head. Note the Vonnegut mural watching her from afar.

Mass Ave!

A wider shot of “Ann Dancing” from her other side. Other Mass Ave features visible here included their trademark boutiques, the Murat Temple, and a grocery that infamously died in 2017.

R Bistro sculpture!

I’ve posted past experiences from the hyper-competitive Mass Ave restaurant scene. This sculpture stood behind R Bistro, which closed its doors in 2016.

Super Bowl 46 column!

Where the cool part of Mass Ave ends to the northeast, distant Super Bowl remnants welcome travelers who approach downtown from the wrong side.

OneAmerica signboard!

We end with a local insurance company’s jokey signboard honoring the proceedings.

That reminds me: i guess for historical purposes I should mention Super Bowl XLVI saw the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17, which delighted Hoosiers to no end — not because Giants quarterback/MVP Eli Manning is the brother of beloved former Colts QB Peyton Manning, but because every Colts fan I know hated pretty-boy Patriots chowderhead/cheater Tom Brady with the power of a million exploding suns. I hope I worded that right.

And that’s the once-in-a-lifetime event that was. Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next time Indy hosts a Super Bowl, which may be a while. Quite a while. Several consecutive whiles, if not more, possibly to coincide with the release of John Carter 2.

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