“The event is already at a premier level,” Vaughn says of the College Football Playoff National Championship. “It will be enormous by the time it gets here. Our challenge will be even greater about what we’re contributing that’s meaningful to the CFP committee and our community.”
Hoops notes the home of the Indy 500 has a knack for rolling with the times. For instance, the first race held at venerable Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a hot air balloon contest on June 5, 1909. A few months later, on Aug. 19, 1909, 15,000 fans caught the venue’s first car race.
“The city is a symbol of evolution and innovation more than anything else,” Hoops says.
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In some respects, Indianapolis is the last place you’d expect to find a college football championship. Indiana University and Purdue University are basketball powerhouses, but not even Drew Brees could bring a title home to the Hoosier State.
As such, it’s almost a given two out-of-state schools will be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2022. That may play to Visit Indy’s advantage. Consider this year’s game between Alabama and Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium amounted to almost a regional game because of the schools’ close proximity to Atlanta.
But what Indianapolis lacks in college football dynasties it makes up for in a legacy of hosting major events. It is the only city to host the Big Ten Football Championship. NGBs based in Indy include USA Gymnastics, USA Football and USA Diving.
That experience allowed the city to rush into action when the CFP called for an RFP. “I don’t know if another city could have put together the kind of bid we did in six weeks,” says Hoops.
But that’s in the past. For Vaughn, there’s just one relevant question: What’s next?