Kicking Up a Fuss
Cathy Langham, Allison Melangton, Roseanne Hunter and Dianna Boyce help score Super Bowl XLVI for Indianapolis
Cathy Langham surveys the faces of the 120 National Football League owners, coaches and presidents as Central Indiana Corporate Partnership President Mark Miles and Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eugene White present the city’s 2012 Super Bowl bid. It’s after lunch, and the only female member of the bid committee in the 1,500-square-foot grand ballroom of the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton worries the decision-makers may be distracted.
“I couldn’t read the room. They were not acting like it was a slam dunk, but I didn’t think we were going to be eliminated quickly either,” the vice president of the Business Advisory Council says.
Bid coordinator Allison Melangton and bid administrator Roseanne Hunter wait nervously nearby in the team’s operation center with 11 of the more than 50 committee members. Melangton and Hunter watch what the camera crews shoot just outside their door. But the play-by-play reports only augment their anxiety.
“Waiting for the vote was the hardest and trying not to think, What is taking so long?” Hunter says.
Turning their attention to the online Super Bowl news updates, Melangton and Hunter calm their nerves by doing what they do best: planning. Six e-mails – one to Dianna Boyce – are queued up and ready to be sent as soon as they get the results.
Back in the Circle City, Boyce cranks up talk radio on 87.7 FM and clutches her BlackBerry in her right hand as she drives her 2008 black Chrysler Aspen home along 71st Street so she can meet her daughters from school.
Langham, Melangton, Hunter and Boyce are only a few of the many women who contributed their time, talent and treasure to one of the committee’s four groups devoted to the city’s quest to bring the NFL’s most coveted championship to Indianapolis. Melangton, Hunter and Boyce were rewarded with the bid committee’s MVP awards for their efforts.
None of these four women are rookies. Indianapolis, the first of three cities to make its 15-minute presentation May 20, lost its bid to host the Super Bowl in 2011 to Dallas by a single vote.
Her day job is CEO of Langham Logistics, a global freight management company. But for a second consecutive year, Langham served as vice president – and as the only woman – on the bid committee’s board of directors. In addition to White and Miles, who served as president, the 13-member board also included a broad range of government, business and civic leaders, such as Mayor Greg Ballard, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Simon Property Group President David Simon.
Responsible for raising money from the private sector, Langham and the committee’s Community Advisory Council met with dozens of businesses between January and May. Those included banks, hospitals, large corporations and small family-owned businesses. Dividing the list and making phone calls to each, Langham and her team grew excited by the businesses’ positive responses.
“They were very supportive,” she says. “They were excited about the possibility of getting the Super Bowl. The consensus was we are going to get it this time.”
Langham admits that because 15 months ago companies had promised to roll over their 2011 support into 2012, garnering $25 million was not too difficult. Ball State University’s Bureau of Business Research released a study in April that estimates visitors to the event could generate about $365 million for the region.
“Bright business leaders understand the impact that a Super Bowl makes,” she says. “It doesn’t just help one business, it helps everybody. High water raises all boats.”
Langham says her company, in fact, is one of Indianapolis’ businesses expected to benefit from the thousands of football fans rushing the $750 million Lucas Oil Stadium, scheduled to open this month.
The Detroit native’s investment in the 2012 Super Bowl bid goes beyond dollar bills. Goose- bumps trail her arms as she talks about her Colts sideline view of the Jan. 21, 2007, AFC Championship game. Overcoming the largest halftime deficit (21-3) in NFL conference title game history, the Colts beat their long-time rivals, the New England Patriots.
“Oh my gosh, you couldn’t hear. It was screaming, yelling and lots of confetti. It was incredible,” she says.
Besides cheering for the Colts, Langham also has a love for playing sports. She met her husband Rick 13 years ago while playing in a golf tournament hosted by the Skyline Club. And when they are not taking their 8-year-old son, Stephen, deep-sea fishing in Florida, Langham is training for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. She just completed her eighth.
Aiming for a 100 percent commitment from all the targeted businesses, Langham says the Business Advisory Council still is raising money for the 2012 Super Bowl.
“We want to make sure that the Indianapolis legacy program is unlike what this community or the NFL has ever seen,” she says.
While Langham and the Business Advisory Council collected funding to support the bid, Melangton and her team filled three-inch thick bid binders with an array of documents. For eight months, Melangton read government ordinances, created stadium specifications, tracked ticket manifests, wrote up hotel agreements, made transportation plans and fashioned hospitality functions.
The self-ordained fanatical planner is a pro at sports event planning. As senior vice president of event management at the Indiana Sports Corporation, Melangton was the 2011 Super Bowl bid administrator. She also has served as director of the 2005 NCAA Women’s Final Four, worked on the 2004 FINA World Swimming Championships and managed the International Broadcast Center for the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championships for Men. SportsEvents magazine named her one of the “Excellent Sports Event Planners to Watch in 2008.”
Three Emmy Awards also honor Melangton’s work in sports broadcasting for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Melangton is off this month again to work at the Olympics in Beijing.
Since age 8, Melangton has either been spinning around the uneven bars in her small Maine hometown or working for NBC to broadcast more than 50 gymnastics events.
The 46-year-old is used to winning, so losing the 2011 Super Bowl bid propelled her to take a new offensive approach for the 2012 bid.
“Last year we were under a veil of secrecy because we wanted the competitive advantage of the other cities not knowing what we were up to. This year we are involving the community with a Web site, town hall meetings, and hoping to uncover some jewel of an idea.”
One of those gems from Miles and Baker & Daniels’ Jack Swarbrick, who recently was named Notre Dame’s athletic director, involved 32 Indiana eighth-grade students – and a chaperone – hand delivering the city’s 2012 Super Bowl bid to every NFL owner around the country. About two weeks before the bid was due to the NFL owners, Melangton handed off the project to Boyce, a trusted friend and devoted Indianapolis volunteer.
“My first reaction was I was thrilled to be asked to help,” Boyce says. “But could we pull it off in two-and-one-half weeks? I immediately got to the details. Time was of the essence.”
The open receiver
Juggling her work as a communications associate for the Lumina Foundation and raising her daughters, ages 9 and 12, Boyce made calls to 32 different schools, some as far away as Terre Haute and Muncie. Twenty-six schools immediately accepted the invitation. Leaving it up to the superintendents to determine the lucky students and their chaperones, Boyce turned her attention to Northwest Airlines to book 64 travel itineraries to cities all over the country.
“The ultimate goal was to show each NFL team that Indianapolis cares about this event beyond just a planning committee in a room,” she says. “What better way than to send the high school graduating class of 2012 to deliver it?”
Five days before the students and their chaperones headed to the airport, Boyce, 42, greeted them at the Colts complex for their training session. Smiling from ear to ear, the eager ambassadors entered the training room lined with Colts paraphernalia. Boyce commenced the “draft” to determine each student’s designated team.
“I could feel the level of excitement. They were ready to roll. It was so much fun!” she says.
She also oversaw a video screening of the 2011 bid, scripts for talking points and details about travel logistics that prepared the students and appeased parents’ worries. “From a parent standpoint, I thought, what would I need to know if I was in their position? I wanted them to be able to walk out of there and know that I was going to take care of them,” she says.
Arriving at the airport 4:30 a.m. Friday, May 9, Boyce, Melangton, Melangton’s husband Tom and Indiana Sports Corporation staff members anxiously awaited each student and chaperone. Having already prepped security and the airlines about the seemingly mysterious bid package, Boyce and Melangton only hoped that weather would not delay their student ambassadors.
“I was in my planning mindset,” Melangton says. “I was thinking of some backup plans if flights were canceled.”
Luckily, each student successfully delivered the bid and scored a touchdown on the 20-foot football field tracker posted in the team’s airport operations room. Keeping close tabs on each student’s travel – starting at the 25-yard line with their bid pickup – the last student ambassador returned home at 1 a.m.
Going on just 17 hours of sleep for the week, Boyce knows the time spent away from her girls and Kevin, her husband of 17 years, is well spent.
“It was the most time-sensitive, condensed project that I have ever done. But it was the most rewarding without a doubt because of the way it impacted 32 students. It will have lifelong effects and help them be further involved in central Indiana.”
Melangton admits raising Cameron, an eighth-grader, is one of the reasons she views the student ambassador project as the best part of the 2012 bid process. “At that point, even if we didn’t win, the whole bid was worth it. Getting those kids involved, especially the ones that had never flown in an airplane before, was amazing.”
For two consecutive years, Roseanne Hunter served as the keeper of Indianapolis’ bids. A legal assistant for Swarbrick for 10 years, she helped bid committee members organize charts, graphs, tables, images and data adhering to the NFL’s strict specifications. With each of 32 NFL team owners scheduled to receive a copy of the 15-pound binder, she was faced with a mountain of paperwork to manage.
“The binder is huge. There is a lot of physical labor that you don’t expect,” she says.
Still keeping everyone organized, Hunter held the master script and made sure all the committee members knew their roles for the bid presentation. Constant revisions, rewrites and double-checking consumed her all the way up until game time – 1:30 p.m. on May 20.
“One of the most difficult things was I always wanted to go back and check it, but we were up against deadlines,” she says.
Coming from deep Hoosier roots, this is not the first time Hunter has contributed to Indianapolis sporting events. In 1987, she worked for the Indiana Sports Corporation and helped with the overall management of the sponsors and suppliers of the Pan Am Games.
“I thought that is the biggest deal that has ever happened in my hometown, and I want to work at it,” she says.
Although the Pan Am Games is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, the 55-year-old Southport resident admits there’s a big difference in her involvement with the Super Bowl bids. That difference is time.
“I joined the Pan Am Games in progress,” she says. “With the Super Bowl bids, it was so much fun to be in it from the very beginning. To be in it from the ground up is very special.”
Sitting in the “war room” at the Ritz-Carlton during the bid committee presentation, Hunter tries not to think about losing, but it’s difficult not to replay last year’s one-vote loss. It could very well happen again.
But Melangton knows Hoosiers have the advantage. “No one in the country runs events better than Indy,” she says. “No one will involve the community the way we do.”
Forty-seven minutes after Indianapolis, Houston and Glendale, Ariz., finish their presentations, the NFL owners conclude four rounds of voting and relay the final decision to the respective team leaders.
Colts owner Jim Irsay and Colts general manager Bill Polian wade through a sea of reporters and flashing cameras. They enter the war room and announce that Super Bowl XLVI will take place Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. “The room was a big hug. We were all so excited,” Hunter says. “The e-mails were flying and there was a frenzy of activity. It was a lot of fun.”
At 2:47 p.m., Boyce hears the breaking news report on the radio and receives Melangton and Hunter’s e-mail. It reads, “We Won!”
“I can’t wait to show the NFL what we can do,” Melangton says with a smile.