It’s truly a mixed blessing for Indianapolis.  On the one hand, the city is on the verge of hosting the biggest show of the year, The Super Bowl.  The community is excited, there are hundreds of events planned, and it’s a great opportunity for a “cold” city to host such a hot event.  But, in the midst of all the excitement, is the still-fresh memory of the State Fair.

By now, you’re  familiar with the tragic stage collapse just prior to the Sugarland concert at the state fair.  7 people lost their lives, 40 were injured and the lawsuits flew.  No one wants a repeat of any of that.

Memories of the August 13, 2011 collapse, and the resulting terror, along with the fact that no inspections of the structure had been conducted, coupled with complaints that fair failed to evacuate the area as the storm approached all have those overseeing preparations on edge.

The Super Bowl is set for the 5th of next month.  Those organizing the event find themselves trying to balance just how stringent they need to be on precautions, and still offer the expected crowds all the fun and excitement of the game.  They have to worry about everything from ice and heavy snow to high winds.

In and interview with The Washington Post, one official explained the situation:

You can throw out any standards you want, but if you don’t have a basis underneath it you’re building on a house of sand.

That from Rick Tobin, an emergency management consultant from San Antonio, Texas, who analyzes safety preparations for public events.

It’s just a fact of nature that Indianapolis can and does have major snow storms and much of the concern centers around snow removal.  While the city only averages 25 inches of snow a year, it might as well be 10 feet compared to other warm climate host cities.  During Super Bowl week, the city is set to double the number of plows patrolling the downtown area.

There are also two large outdoor stages that could draw thousands of spectators.  Performances are scheduled featuring Patti LaBelle, Darius Rucker, LMFAO and officials are and will continue to keep a close eye on construction and safety issues there.

other national acts, are getting an especially hard look. Officials have received 50 applications for tents or stages to be set up near Lucas Oil Stadium, with more expected in the coming weeks.

About 40 inspectors from the Department of Code Enforcement, plus officials from the state fire marshal’s office, will check each to ensure it meets manufacturer’s standards as well as fire and occupancy codes.

Our focus is making sure that everything gets inspected, said Adam Collins, the city’s license administrator.

Collins went on to say that specific trigger points regarding wind speed and other factors would be set for any potential evacuation.  In addition, officials will monitor the weather daily, relying on meteorologists and experts and event orgaizaers.

Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, questioned whether the approach is too complicated.

Smith said the state fair tragedy showed that when too many people are involved in a decision, it can cause “decision paralysis.” He thinks it would be simpler to employ a single meteorologist and make a decision about evacuations based on that advice alone.

So, a mixed blessing to be sure.  Everyone involved is working to make this a memorable event for all concerned.  And by memorable, they’re hoping for great memories and not memories of what went wrong.  The game will be played on February 5th.  I’m sure there are many, many people who will breathe a sigh of relief on February 6th.