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Updated: Thursday, 19 Jul 2012, 8:52 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 19 Jul 2012, 5:29 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - As Indianapolis works up a bid to bring a second Super Bowl to town in 2018, the NFL might encourage the construction of a new downtown hotel. But the numbers, those in the industry say, just won’t support that addition.
Super Bowl week was a sellout at downtown Indianapolis hotels. While Indianapolis guaranteed the NFL 18,000 available rooms in the metro area for Super Bowl XLVI, only about 4,500 of those are downtown. And for four days they were full.
"Yeah, one week does not make a whole year," said Phil Ray, manager of the downtown Marriott, which has more than 600 rooms, and chairman of the Indiana Hotel & Lodging Association. "The reality is the demand, the consistent demand, is not there to support a big thousand-room hotel or a big hotel like that."
And the numbers support him. Hotels were 95 percent to 99 percent full during the Super Bowl run. But according to the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, the average for all of 2011 was a 66 percent occupancy rate.
And the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association said it wouldn't consider supporting a new hotel until the average occupancy rate is 70 percent or greater.
The JW Marriott complex, which opened in March 2011, added 1,000 new rooms to the downtown inventory. Nonetheless, shortage of downtown hotel space was the one and virtually only criticism cited by the NFL after Super Bowl XLVI, Colts owner Jim Irsay said during the announcement that the city was bidding for another Super Bowl.
"There was some comment about some people coming in the day of the game and leaving because of hotel limitations," Ray acknowledged.
Part of that was the desire of the NFL to put its people where the action was, downtown. But there's no support for adding more rooms right now.
"The overall experience was the best Super Bowl from an experience standpoint the NFL has ever had. So we think that's going to be enough to earn us the opportunity to get another super bowl," Ray said.
Ray also pointed out that even in large Super Bowl cities like Dallas and Miami, people have to stay half an hour to 45 minutes away from many of the big events.
One other stumbling block to a new event hotel is money. It can cost hundreds of millions to get it done. And right now, finding a developer willing to risk that kind of cash in a city that can't support the added inventory is very unlikely, even with a Super Bowl potentially in the picture.