INDIANAPOLIS – The Super Bowl Village is open for business.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard cut the ribbon Friday and declared the downtown hub for Super Bowl pre-game activity ready for visitors. The NFL Experience fan hall also opened, nine days before the Feb. 5 game at nearby Lucas Oil Stadium.
Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, called on the hometown crowd to be hospitable to out-of-towners, which will include fans of the New York Giants and New England Patriots for much of the next week.
“The world will finally see America’s best-kept secret: Indianapolis, Indiana,” Carson said.
Organizers expect one of the most popular attractions to be the four zip lines, raised cables that allow riders to hurtle over part of the village for about 800 feet, starting at nearly 100 feet up and dipping gradually to the ground. Some 45 VIPs, including Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s daughters Kalen and Carlie, tested the zip lines before they opened to the public.
Only one rider had problems: Blue, the Colts mascot, got stuck about 30 feet away from the platform at the end of the line and had to be reeled in by the crew.
Trisha Youngblood of Bunker Hill, Ind., drove an hour and a half with her mom to be the first in line to buy a zip line ticket. She dangled with no hands as she flew down the line.
“Hanging upside down and seeing all the people was weird,” Youngblood said. “I loved it, though. I just wish it was longer.”
An hour after opening to the public, the line to ride was almost two blocks long. The weeklong series of concerts began Friday with DJ Pauly D and Bret Michaels among the first headliners.
The NFL Experience, an interactive exhibit with football drills and players, will include youth clinics all week long. Barb Stevens of Fountaintown, Ind., wanted to get to the NFL Experience before out-of-town crowds packed downtown.
“The exhibit will be so much fun for little kids,” she said. “I hope there’s a huge crowd coming.”
The Super Bowl is expected to draw more than 150,000 visitors to Indianapolis. Longtime resident Dixie Wilkins said the city is ready.
“It’s terribly exciting,” she said. “This is my hometown and this is the ultimate event.”