The UIndy campus was an exciting place to be in the days and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and the buzz hasn’t worn off. The University co-hosted a panel discussion involving three Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee members who were instrumental in bringing the big game to the city: John Lechleiter, chair, president, and CEO, Eli Lilly & Co.; Carolene Mays, commissioner, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; and Allison Melangton, president and CEO of the Host Committee.
The breakfast program brought 300 community leaders to campus for the “inside scoop” on Friday, Jan. 27, the day before the Giants moved in. Guests got to tour the Athletics & Recreation Center dome, with its NFL football field markings and goalposts, and pop into the locker room that Eli Manning and teammates would begin using the next day. The University printed banners for buildings and hundreds of window signs welcoming the Giants, which students, faculty, and staff displayed across campus. Many also sported “Welcome Giants” buttons the University provided as a gesture of hospitality and an enduring memento.
Residence halls vied for top prize in a door-decorating contest—a pizza party courtesy of the president. The big windows in Schwitzer facing Hanna Avenue were turned into a welcome banner. And if those displays weren’t enough to make the Giants feel welcome, the swell of students, faculty, and staff—even a few neighbors—that greeted the arrival and departure of the team buses each day made the sentiment obvious. Though watching the Giants practice was off limits, many on campus got snapshots of players as they came and went; a lucky few were able to score player autographs. Players using the weight room in Ruth Lilly Health & Fitness Center created a stir in the hallways and nearby offices.Polk Food Service served a Tailgate Rally Lunch that Monday and a Super Bowl-themed dinner—with Madonna karaoke—the next day.
UIndy earned raves from the Giants. NFL writer Peter King reported from UIndy via the Fox Sports website: “The entire Giants traveling party was impressed with the facilities at the school. It’s rare to see a school this size with a full 100-yard indoor field, but the Super Bowl host committee and the university combined to spend $6 million to install the indoor facility in time for the Super Bowl. . . .“‘This is an outstanding facility, absolutely outstanding,’’ said [Giants head coach Tom] Coughlin.
“‘What I like about it is that the college teams here have been working out here all fall, so the turf has been broken in well. It’s settled in, and it’s in great shape. It’s going to be great for our players to be able to work out in here all week.’’’
Students, alumni assist stars at ‘NFL Honors’ show
Actor Alec Baldwin may have a reputation for being prickly off camera, but he’s OK with UIndy staffer and alumna Chelsea Anderson ’10. And she should know, after hanging out with the “30 Rock” star Super Bowl weekend as he hosted the NFL Honors postseason awards gala Saturday, February 4, at the Murat Theatre.
“He was wonderful—straightforward but not a jerk in any sense of the word,” says Anderson, a theatre grad now working in the Conference & Scheduling office. He chatted with everybody.”
Anderson was among more than 30 UIndy students, alumni, and faculty who served as talent escorts for the event, broadcast as a primetime special on NBC. Each was paired with a player, retired player, or other visiting celebrity to provide any necessary assistance. The initial request for help came through the Department of Theatre’s Facebook page. Administrative assistant Jodi Bush was skeptical at first, but when the producers’ overture proved to be legit, she enlisted help from Student Services and the Department of Communication to line up a cadre of workers. Most were volunteers, though Anderson and theater major Ashleigh Skaggs, who served as dressing room coordinator, were paid for their work. Anderson’s stint began Friday and continued through Saturday as Baldwin worked with a team of writers on the script, debating the finer points of timing and delivery.
“He was very hands-on with the jokes,” she says. “Comedy is all about timing.”
Her duties included arranging food and transportation and generally keeping the actor on schedule. “Officially, I was not allowed to let him out of my sight,” she says. Working backstage, she also had close encounters with rocker Lenny Kravitz, comic Jimmy Fallon, “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, and the mystery man of Super Bowl week in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning.