The construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, which replaced the outdated Hoosier Dome as home of the Indianapolis Colts, led civic leaders to make bids to hold the Super Bowl. In 2007, NFL franchise owners almost chose Indianapolis to host Super Bowl XLV, but they picked Dallas instead. The following year Indianapolis made another bid to host the Super Bowl. The city chose 32 local eighth graders to hand-deliver Indianapolis’ bid directly to NFL franchise owners. This gesture, along with century-old St. Elmo Steak House’s shipment of its signature shrimp cocktail, seemed to help win them over. During the May 20, 2008, meeting, NFL franchise owners officially selected Indianapolis to host Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.

Aerial view of the Soldiers and Sailors monument at night. Large letters are set up in front of the monument that read "X L V I."
Monument Circle during Super Bowl XLVI, 2012 Credit: Banayote Photo Inc., Indiana Historical Society View Source

Over the next few years, the city underwent a massive transformation in preparation for the event, particularly in areas near Lucas Oil Stadium—the gameday venue. The Super Bowl Host Committee worked with various partners to invest millions of dollars in the city’s downtown and near-east side neighborhoods for revitalization projects such as new lighting, sidewalks, and grocery stores. In partnership with the John H. Boner Community Center, the NFL donated $1 million toward building the $11.3 million Chase Legacy Center on the Arsenal Technical High School campus to provide programs for youth in underserved surrounding neighborhoods. The University of Indianapolis built its ARC-covered stadium that served as the official practice space for the NFL football teams and temporarily installed artificial turf, which it donated to Tech High School after the event.

The Super Bowl Host Committee also worked with local groups on several city-wide projects. The Arts Council of Indianapolis commissioned 46 new public murals and placed them throughout Marion County to help raise public art awareness and appreciation. To counter the environmental impact of the Super Bowl on Indianapolis, the committee created the 1st & Green program. This program encouraged local businesses, schools, and residents to save water and carbon before the game, conserving over 1 million pounds of carbon and over 2 million gallons of water. The committee also set out to plant 2,012 trees by 2012, a goal it surpassed with 2,876 trees planted.

Aerial view of a crowded street with several tented structures. The Lucas Oil Stadium building is in the background.
Georgia Street during Super Bowl XLVI, 2012 Credit: Banayote Photo Inc., Indiana Historical Society View Source

With Indianapolis’ potential for low temperatures and snow during January and February, organizers had to devise a way to keep visitors comfortable while spending time outdoors near Lucas Oil Stadium. They also wanted to create a space for everyone to celebrate the Super Bowl, not just for those attending the game. The result was the development of the Super Bowl Village, an outdoor space spanning 3 blocks along Georgia Street that residents and Super Bowl visitors alike could visit regardless of weather conditions.

Organizers designed the village to be a central hub for Super Bowl events and activities. There were nightly concerts held on two stages, food and drink vendors, a tailgating area, and an 800-foot-long ziplining course over Capitol Avenue. Because of its spot in the village, St. Elmo became the go-to restaurant for visiting celebrities, musicians, comedians, and fans of the New England Patriots and New York Giants, the two teams that played in Super Bowl XLVI. During the 10-day run, the village had over 1 million visitors, including both locals and out-of-towners. The village was so successful that it has since become an NFL standard for host cities to include a central space like this.

Kelly Clarkson stands in the middle of a group of children. A crowd of people are in the stands in the background.
Kelly Clarkson sings the National Anthem for Super Bowl XLVI with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, 2012 Credit: Indianapolis Children’s Choir via Indianapolis Public Library View Source

Super Bowl events began on January 27 and ran through Sunday, February 5. Each day featured a line-up of concerts, parties, and events. Concert headliners at the Super Bowl Village included national acts like Bret Michaels, Patti LaBelle, and Dierks Bentley, as well as local groups. Other performances took place at the Pepsi Coliseum, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse (see Gainbridge fieldhouse), home to the Indiana Pacers NBA basketball team. These events featured national musical groups and performers, like Gym Class Heroes, All-American Rejects, Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Mike Epps, Snoop Dogg, and Wiz Khalifa. Various celebrities and sports figures hosted parties and events all over the city, including the Direct TV Beach Bash at Victory Field, with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, singer-songwriter Katy Perry, and other A-Listers in attendance.

Comedian Jimmy Fallon came to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and broadcast NBC’s, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, from the HIlbert Circle Theatre. It was the first time the national late-night talk show had aired from anywhere outside of its home in New York City. Mayor Greg Ballard appeared during the first and last episodes shot in Indianapolis. The show also featured the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the show’s house band, The Roots, did an impromptu song about the downtown location of Scotty’s Brewhouse, an Indiana sports bar chain.

Madonna stands in between Nicki Minaj and MIA. All women are dancing on a stage while holding cheerleader pom poms..
Madonna (center) performs with MIA (right) and Nicki Minaj during the halftime show for Super Bowl XLVI, 2012 Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports View Source

Super Bowl XLVI was held on February 5, at 6:30 pm, with 68,658 fans in attendance. The match between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was particularly notable for Indianapolis because the Patriots were the primary rivals of the Colts, while the Giants were led by Eli Manning, the younger brother of Peyton Manning.

Multi-Grammy Award winners Kelly Clarkson and Madonna performed at the game. Clarkson sang the National Anthem at the start. Madonna headlined the halftime show along with guest appearances by electronic dance music group LMFAO, rapper and singer Nicki Minaj, British rapper M.I.A., and singer-songwriter and rapper CeeLo Green. Local groups, including the Avon High School Drumline, the Center Grove High School Drumline, the Fishers High School Drumline, and a choir of 200 Indianapolis singers, also accompanied Madonna at halftime.

Several men in football uniforms hold up a trophy. A crowd is cheering in the background.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80), Hakeem Nicks, and Lawrence Tynes (9) lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium, 2012 Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports View Source

The Giants won the game with a final score of 21 to 17. The Giants celebrated their victory with a $1 million party at the downtown Marriott hotel.

Revised June 2023

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