Sarah Goodyear is a Brooklyn-based contributing writer to CityLab. She's written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog.
An Indianapolis nonprofit is recycling more than five miles of banners left over from Super Bowl XLVI.
New Orleans will be hosting the Super Bowl next month, the 10th time they’ve been the venue for the big game. That ties the Louisiana city for first place with Miami in the history of hosting the event.
How good will it be for the local economy of New Orleans? Well, you could spend a long time debating the precise economic benefit of opening your city up for football’s biggest event, and many people have crunched the numbers to come up with widely differing results (one analyst of the subject says that estimates can be inflated, in part due to a phenomenon known as "monetary leakage," which sees profits being kicked back out of a city to national chains or institutions).
But in Indianapolis, one local nonprofit has found a way to turn that city’s Super Bowl 2012 experience to its direct advantage. People for Urban Progress, an organization dedicated to street-level urban-improvement projects in Indianapolis, is recycling more than five miles' worth of banners left over from last year’s Super Bowl XLVI into shower curtains, wallets, and beach bags retailing for about $40. (The city’s Super Bowl host committee, meanwhile, estimated that the game resulted in $176 million in direct economic impact for Indianapolis, and is determined to compete for the chance to welcome the contest back to town in 2018.)
This isn’t the only example of sports memorabilia that PUP has figured out how to reuse. They’ve made bike panniers, iPad cases, and shade structures from the vinyl fabric that once covered the RCA/Hoosier Dome (you can watch its somewhat poignant deflation here). They’ve salvaged seats from the city’s demolished Bush Stadium, refurbished them, and worked with sponsors to install them at bus stops and other public spaces. And this stuff is good-looking. Several of the people who dream up the PUP merchandise are trained designers, and they make all the products locally in Indianapolis.
It’s a good thing that the PUP crew is energetic and creative. Not only do they have five miles of Super Bowl banners to work with, they also rescued 13 acres worth of that dome vinyl, of which they’ve maybe used 2 percent so far.
So if the football fan in your life needs a one-of-a-kind accessory to celebrate game day, consider a PUP shower curtain. The group does advise that since these items are made from repurposed material, “small holes, tears, inconsistencies, and/or stains may be apparent.” That should be no surprise. The history of hosting the Super Bowl is nothing if not imperfect.