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Rick’s Imports Strippers as Indianapolis Readies for Bowl Revels

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Photographer: Michael Conroy/AP
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Photographer: Michael Conroy/AP

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Indianapolis is girding for a Super Bowl party that is challenging its small-town virtues. The strippers are already at work.

Rick’s Cabaret International Inc. flew in more than 100 dancers to its Indianapolis club for “seven days of nonstop party action” from its Miami, New York, Minneapolis and Texas venues, Allan Priaulx, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview from New York.

“We wouldn’t bring them down there if they weren’t going to make money for us, and they wouldn’t go unless they were going to make money for themselves,” said Priaulx, whose firm’s shares rose 18 percent in the year ending Jan. 31, compared with 2 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

National Football League owners voted four years ago to hold the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, the state capital and a center for amateur sports. The city has said the economic impact of the game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots and days of high-rolling parties may be $250 million. It prepared with measures that include as much as $4 million in public-safety spending, a human trafficking law and what boosters say is the nation’s longest temporary zipline.

“Hosting the Super Bowl, doing it well, is putting us in front of corporate decision-makers, convention planners, event planners that can have an impact on the city for a long time to come,” Marc Lotter, communications director for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, said in a telephone interview.

Have Some Pork

Indianapolis, only the fourth cold-weather city to host the Super Bowl since it began in 1967, is not endowed with the attributes often associated with the year’s biggest game -- none of Miami’s beaches or rum cocktails in the sun, no Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. This is pork tenderloin country, Indiana’s signature sandwich.

It’s also home of the Indianapolis 500 car race; the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Eli Lilly & Co., which is the world’s 10th-largest pharmaceutical company, and hometown of author Kurt Vonnegut, whose memorial library is near the Capitol.

Indianapolis nurtures the belief that “a good small town works,” said James H. Madison, a historian at Indiana University in Bloomington, who wrote “The Indiana Way,” a history of the state.

Thriving on Placidity

Yet it grows as Midwestern peers shrink. Indianapolis is now the 12th-largest U.S. city, with a population of 829,718, according to the Census Bureau, almost doubling since 1950.

“It’s not a dramatic place; there is no ocean, the architecture is predictable 20th century,” said Andrew Cayton, a historian at Miami University of Ohio and co-author of “The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia.”

“It’s a good city that functions well, although you might not go out of your way to go there,” he said.

This week, 150,000 people will make that pilgrimage, Lotter said.

Some are staying at Marriott International Inc.’s new 34-story hotel, where the NFL set up its media center and which the company has said is its largest, with 1,005 guest rooms. It is part of a $450 million complex of Marriott properties connected by skyways to the city’s convention center and opened in February 2011.

Indianapolis spent $12 million to turn a four-lane street into a three-block pedestrian plaza that is home to a Super Bowl Village for 10 days and can be used for future events, said Lotter, the mayoral spokesman.

Zipping Over Indy

The village features stands with $5 hot dogs and $4 soft drinks and stages for free entertainment from the likes of singer Patti Labelle and the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders. Mikado Japanese Restaurant & Sushi in the village’s heart is serving $6 beers and hot sake.

There’s also the 80-foot-tall zipline over Capitol Avenue.

The Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee raised $25 million to pay for the attractions from 103 individuals and corporations including Cummins Inc., Eli Lilly and State Farm Insurance Co., said Dianna Boyce, a spokeswoman.

The Capital Improvement Board of Managers of Marion County, which operates the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium, where the game will be played at 6:30 p.m. local time on Feb. 5, expects to lose $810,000 that will be covered by cash reserves, Dan Huge, chief financial officer of the agency, said in a telephone interview.

Vice Isn’t Nice

The largest expense is as much as $4 million the board has agreed to pay the city to cover public-safety costs, Huge said.

Frank Straub, the Indianapolis director of public safety, said about between $1 million and $1.5 million of that cost is for equipment including a $250,000 armored vehicle, street cameras and bomb suits. The balance is for overtime costs, Straub said in an interview.

On Jan. 30, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill that Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement he wanted passed before the Super Bowl to “close loopholes in Indiana law so our police and prosecutors have the legal tools they need to crack down on those who traffic young victims.”

The city hasn’t seen an increase in human trafficking or prostitution related to the game, and additional officers have not been assigned to police it, Straub said.

While an increase in escort services and “professional-type prostitution” is possible with the game, police have good relationships with hotel and bar security to watch for suspicious activity, Straub said.

“Our prostitution tends to be in our more crime-challenged areas,” he said. “So somebody coming in to visit the city probably is not going to end up there unless they got lost.”

Madison, the historian, said, “It’s almost a little embarrassing how much the city wants to be loved by the rest of the country and the world.

‘‘Maybe there’s an inferiority complex, but I like to quote Kurt Vonnegut, who said you should never apologize for being a Hoosier,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Indianapolis at; Timothy Jones in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at

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