By Timothy Cox
Gov. Mitch Daniels and state job creation officials will tackle Super Bowl weekend by entertaining corporate executives with the potential to bring more jobs to the state — but the governor has purchased his own ticket for the game.
Daniels said the Indiana Economic Development Corporation will use a suite at Lucas Oil Stadium for the game in February to entertain site selectors and corporate officials.
"The IEDC looks forward to using the 2012 Super Bowl platform to showcase Indiana's low-cost, business-friendly environment with companies considering investment in the state," said Katelyn Hancock, senior manager of media relations for the IEDC.
The governor will also host his own corporate party with the IEDC as well as participate in several ceremonial Super Bowl events — including an inaugural ride on a zip-line that will send fans careening above the Super Bowl Village on a wire.
"(I'll do) anything that I'm asked to do that can help support the best possible event," Daniels said.
The priority, though, will be using the event to boost jobs for the state, something the IEDC has done at past Super Bowls away from home. The state-sponsored events will be paid for with private funds.
"The IEDC is hoping to host and entertain and inform a lot of very significant people who might one day, if not today, be in a position to put some jobs here," Daniels said.
About 65 percent of the roughly 70,000 people who attend the Super Bowl game are "corporate decision makers," many of them with businesses not currently located in Indiana, the NFL estimates. Those key leaders could be choosing where their companies expand, moving their headquarters or locating new plants.
"Every one of those people is going to learn a lot about Indiana, and I hope feel that they've been to, not just a fun place, but a great place to do business," Daniels said.
According to Site Selection magazine, Indiana ranked sixth among states with the best business climates in 2011. That's just the kind of information that Daniels hopes to share.
But he'll have competition. There will be more than 100 official and unofficial Super Bowl-related events besides the game, said Dianna Boyce, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. Among them is a star-studded party to be hosted by Rolling Stone magazine and rum-maker Bacardi.
Daniels said he hasn't received an invitation to the Rolling Stone event but does have plenty of plans. He'll be part of a celebration for those working at the Super Bowl, participate in village activities and help wherever he's asked, Daniels said.
The governor has been thinking about the game as well. He said he's initially partial to any team that might bring a significant number of fans to Indianapolis – a team like the Green Bay Packers – but he plans to remain neutral.
He also decided to pay for his own tickets for the game, which, he said with a groan, cost "a lot of money."
"It just seemed appropriate," he said.