Tourism officials across central Indiana are crossing their fingers that an overflow of visitors will bring business — and cash — to their communities when the 2012 Super Bowl kicks off in Indianapolis.
The NFL projects visitors will bring in between $125 million and $400 million during the days leading up to the Feb. 5 game in Indianapolis, Super Bowl Host Committeewoman Pat Carlini said. But Indianapolis doesn't have enough hotel rooms to accommodate all 150,000 expected visitors, so some will likely look for rooms within an hour of the host city, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
"It doesn't all stay right there," Carlini said. "We can all take advantage of that pot of gold."
The NFL has blocked off hundreds of rooms in Kokomo to ensure that league and media representatives and others directly involved with the event have places to stay that weekend. Peggy Hobson, executive director of the Kokomo Visitors Bureau, said people who stay in Kokomo hotels that weekend would also throw business to restaurants and gas stations.
"Different things like that kind of vibrate through the community," she said. Some downtown Indianapolis hotels are already at capacity in the days surrounding the game. That has some Delaware County hotel operators hoping for overflow business.
"They do expect that the effects of the Super Bowl will reach out 75 miles or so from what they call the epicenter," said Jim Mansfield of the Muncie Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Mansfield told The Star Press that some groups stayed 75 miles away when the game was held in Dallas and Miami, then bused people to the event. He said the Super Bowl host committee "is telling us we need to be prepared for a pretty full weekend."
Jim Jacob, general manager at Muncie's Hampton Inn and Suites, said he already has half his rooms booked for the Super Bowl and is hoping to fill up. He's raised his rates to $195 a night and up, compared with his usual $119 to $137, and hopes to persuade those attending to book four nights.
Vic Bava, general manager of Comfort Inn and Suites, doesn't share Jacob's optimism. He said all 48 of his rooms are still available for Super Bowl weekend, and he doubts Muncie will see much benefit from the game. "Indianapolis has rooms left and there are plenty of other towns in an hour's radius," he said.