When Giants walked the campus

 

The University opened a shiny new $6-million, 90,200-square-foot Athletics & Recreation Center in the fall of 2011, replete with an air-supported dome, that doubled the indoor space on campus for athletic and fitness activities. That was reason enough for celebration, of course, but the campus community was especially excited, knowing that the NFC champions were slated to use the facility months later as a practice site for a week prior to the city’s first Super Bowl.

The project was already under way when it received additional funding from the Super Bowl Host Committee to cover costs related to the facility’s use by the NFL in January, when the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants arrived. Artificial turf was temporarily installed for the NFL’s use. In mid-May, a crew began the process of removing the turf, to be reinstalled this summer at Arsenal Technical High School, one focus of the committee’s near-Eastside Legacy Projects. (The new flooring in UIndy’s dome will be a multipurpose rubbery surface suitable for sports and fitness use.)

Civic impact

The day before the Giants arrived, UIndy hosted more than 300 community leaders for an invitation-only breakfast and insider discussion about how Indianapolis landed the Super Bowl and how the city would benefit. “Before the Big Game: Lessons We’ve Learned—So Far” was presented January 24 by the University, Indiana Humanities, Star Media, Indiana Sports Corp and the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. Journalist and speaker Anne Ryder moderated the discussion by panelists Allison Melangton, president and CEO of the host committee; Eli Lilly & Co. CEO John Lechleiter, a host committee board member; and IURC Commissioner Carolene Mays, a host committee division chair.

Giant compliments

“This is an outstanding facility, absolutely outstanding,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told Sports Illustrated. ”It’s going to be great for our players to work out in here all week.”

Coughlin later offered more UIndy shout-outs: “I thought I would recognize the University of Indianapolis and the fine folks that work there for their hospitality and their preparation,” he said. “The people there have been outstanding, the hospitality has been great, the facility there is an outstanding facility to practice in. . . . So just an acknowledgement to those fine people of the outstanding job they’ve done in preparation for us here.”

Celebrity apprentices

The University found many ways to share in the Super Bowl excitement through events on campus and off, but one of the most thrilling came the night before the big game. More than 30 UIndy students and several alumni and faculty served as the talent escorts for a prime-time special on NBC. Each was paired with a player, retired player, or other visiting celebrity to provide any necessary assistance.

Celebrities escorted by UIndy representatives included Alec Baldwin, Tim Tebow, Joel McHale, Don Shula, Cam Newton, Barry Sanders, Terrell Suggs, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Montana, Aaron Rodgers, and Joe Namath.

Impressing the press

The Indianapolis Business Journal noted the value of the University press coverage resulting from the Giants’ week on the UIndy campus, saying, “The University of Indianapolis . . .  is receiving a slew of attention from the Super Bowl that no amount of advertising could buy.” IBJ singled out the thousands of Google searches of the University as well as the many mentions by Big Apple media.

 

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