INDIANAPOLIS—At a press event held Wednesday in the main conference room of the downtown Hyatt Regency, Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard publicly announced his city's thoroughly embarrassing bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Standing before a display depicting the Olympic rings superimposed over the Indianapolis skyline, and flanked by several locally bred luminaries such as astronaut David Wolf and television host Marc Summers, Ballard made an earnest but utterly depressing pledge to bring the world's preeminent international sporting event to the Midwestern city of 830,000.
"It gives me great pleasure and pride to announce that Indianapolis is officially in the running for the Games of the 32nd Olympiad," Ballard said at the morning event, during which a free continental breakfast was served to a modest gathering of reporters. "We're a world-class city, and we can't wait to show the world what we've got in store for 2020."
"So get ready, because we're bringing the Olympic torch where it belongs," added Ballard, conveying a heartfelt pride that made the whole thing that much sadder to watch. "To Indiana!"
In addition to the mayor's painfully optimistic comments, the 19-minute presentation featured a performance of the Olympic Hymn by the Marian University Woodwind Ensemble and an appearance by local meteorologist Paul Poteet, who performed a joking weather forecast predicting "clear skies straight through to 2020."
Following a technical glitch that was eventually remedied by Hyatt staff members, Ballard screened a short informational video featuring former Indiana Pacers star Rik Smits. The film shows Smits at several of the city's iconic sites, including the Central Canal, the home of one-term president Benjamin Harrison, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and ends with a shot of the retired basketball player biting into one of city's signature breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches after announcing Indianapolis is ready to "go for the gold."
The Indianapolis Olympic Organizing Association has put together a bid that includes a $2.3 million budget for the summer games, with funds to be raised primarily from local businesses and church groups. According to the proposal, the brick-and-asphalt surface of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be used for many of the events, including cycling, track and field, and equestrian competitions, as well as a 10-and-a-half-lap marathon.
Organizers noted most other competitions would take place at Butler University's athletic facilities, which they repeatedly referred to as "top quality" and "the real deal."
"Where else would we situate the Olympic Village besides Monument Circle?" said organizing council president Julie Stevenson, referring to the town center that is home to many regional financial institutions, radio stations, and the popular South Bend Chocolate Company. "The athletes are going to wake up to a stunning view of the beautifully renovated Indiana Convention Center, which, of course, will host the opening and closing ceremonies."
"Plus, they'll be right next to [the] Circle Centre [mall], which has various international- themed dining options that will make the 10,000 competitors from around the world feel right at home," Stevenson continued. "Not to mention a nine-screen movie theater, a Coach store, Nordstrom's—the list goes on and on. So we know exactly what the athletes will be up to when they have downtime between events."
Apparently unfazed by the fact that her city was up against Rome, Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul in the contest to host the 2020 games, Stevenson unveiled plans for converting the city's existing minor-league ballpark into a "deluxe, state-of-the-art" 14,000-seat olympic stadium that would host marquee soccer matches and medal ceremonies.
In addition, Stevenson pledged the city's firm commitment to adding several new routes along its IndyGo public bus system to accommodate heightened ridership.
"We're really showing the International Olympic Committee that Indianapolis is a thriving metropolis ready for the world stage," said local chamber of commerce president Gene Kintgen, seemingly convinced of his assertion that the city was a "global destination" and "one of America's great cities." "We're home to the world headquarters of Kiwanis International, and last year's VFW convention went off without a hitch. Plus, we had U2 in here a few years ago, so we're used to this kind of thing."
Kintgen also noted that the IOC would soon be receiving video messages and goodwill visits from a "star-studded" cast of Indianapolis Olympics ambassadors, including former vice president Dan Quayle and film actor Brendan Fraser—both native sons of the Circle City—which Kintgen believed would help secure the city's bid for the games.
When reached for comment, IOC members in Switzerland were still struggling to make sense of Indianapolis' application, stating they had each received a glass bottle of milk and, for some reason, an autographed photo of Hollywood actor Gene Hackman.