Super Bowl week in Indianapolis, Indiana was an exciting time for the Music for All (MFA) staff. The MFA office is headquartered in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, placing staff just a block away from the Super Bowl festivities. Music for All is proud to be headquartered in Indianapolis, alongside our partners Drum Corps International and the Percussive Arts Society.
Indianapolis is no stranger to national and world championships. Lucas Oil Stadium has hosted many championship events, including MFA’s Bands of America Grand National Championships and Indianapolis Super Regional Championship as well as several other musical events, including the Indiana State Marching Band Finals and the Drum Corps International World Championships. Lucas Oil Stadium is the only professional stadium designed specifically with marching performance events, like Grand National Championships and DCI’s World Championships, in mind.
Music for All staff are always looking for ways to improve our patrons’ experience at events, and with an event as large and complex as the Super Bowl right in town, the opportunities for brainstorming and idea gathering were endless.
Music for All staff members not only observed Super Bowl festivities, but a couple had the chance to experience the Super Bowl from a behind-the-scenes, volunteer perspective. We're proud of our own staff volunteers. Music for All's own Natalie Mince and Laura Blake were official volunteers during the event.
Natalie Mince, Music for All’s Director of Events, was a member of the Super Bowl Equipment, Logistics and Warehousing Committee, a committee she has been involved with since January 2011. The purpose of this committee was to determine the need for storage and warehousing facilities for the large number of items being brought into town for the Super Bowl. This committee did not have responsibilities on site, but Mince wanted to be actively involved in the Super Bowl events so she also became a “Fans First” Supervisor.
“Fans First” was a new program implemented by the NFL, and the Super Bowl in Indianapolis was the pilot event for this program. Mince says “Fans First” volunteers were stationed on busy streets downtown and surrounding the Stadium to help answer questions, direct guests to the appropriate gates and keep an eye on crowd levels. As a Supervisor, Mince managed a team of volunteers and was in communication with a manager stationed inside the Stadium, to ensure things outside the building were running smoothly.
“I really enjoyed being a part of an event that showcased the entire city, not just the event itself,” Mince says. “The Host Committee did a fantastic job of building excitement for the local crowd in addition to the visitors. Seeing the Super Bowl transform our entire city was exciting, and the wide-range of activities was really phenomenal.”
Through her volunteer experience, Mince had a chance to interact with both the local community and out-of-town visitors as they experienced the event.
“Downtown felt alive, and the number of locals who visited the Super Bowl Village and other downtown activities prior to most of the visitors arriving to Indianapolis was really amazing,” Mince says. “There was a sense of pride in our community, and everyone I spoke with was so happy and complimentary of Indianapolis. I enjoyed just being a part of the Super Bowl experience, and having a hand in contributing to something on such a large scale.”
As Director of Events for Music for All, Mince was also observing and thinking about the Super Bowl from an event production and volunteer coordination perspective. She was impressed with the use of technology in order to keep volunteers informed throughout their shifts. Mince received multiple text messages throughout the weekend alerting her of the weather, road closures, crowd sizes in Super Bowl Village and other important tips. Visitors could also sign up for text message alerts as well.
“The texts were very helpful and allowed me to be ‘in the know’ even when I was not on shift,” Mince says.
Mince also observed the Host Committee very closely; studying their processes and thinking about ways MFA could improve its volunteer management program.
“I thought the Host Committee did an excellent job of making tweaks throughout the week to improve the visitor experience,” Mince says. “When Friday was jam packed in Super Bowl Village, changes were quickly implemented on Saturday to improve foot traffic and prevent bottlenecking. The Super Service online training that was required by every volunteer was a really great tool that got everyone on the same page about basic customer service and extending Hoosier Hospitality to everyone we come in contact with. The fact that 8,000+ people were trained in customer service prior to an event was pretty impressive.”
Mince also took away ideas about volunteer uniforms and other volunteer perks, the usage of signage and banners, and ways to use Georgia Street as an auxiliary event area during Music for All events.
Laura Blake, Music for All’s Senior Event Coordinator, volunteered as well and worked Low and Medium Intensity volunteer positions at the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center. Low Intensity work involved having patrons sign liability waivers and giving them wristbands that allowed them to play games. Blake also answered patrons’ questions.
“Medium Intensity was amazing!” Blake says. “I worked in the kid zone area. I worked a game where kids could hike or throw a ball through NFL player cut outs. I've never been so tired and had so much fun…watching tiny kids throw the ball and get so excited when they made it!”
Similar to Mince, Blake was very impressed with the production and volunteer coordination aspects she witnessed while volunteering. She felt volunteer uniform and credential pick up were exceptionally smooth.
“Thousands of people were coming through, and they had minor snags, but the stations they had made sense,” Blake says. “I enjoyed the daily newsletter, which I thought was a unique thing that sort of helped keep the event on your mind even if you weren't working that day.”
Blake was impressed with the online volunteer training, the perks provided to volunteers and the logistics on site. She also gained ideas that apply well to her work at Music for All.
“Getting to see a world class event in our city was amazing. It also made me feel good about what we do. We aren't so far off the mark with our [MFA’s] volunteer program,” Blake says. “I learned a lot and had a great time.”
“I am really honored to have been a part of the Super Bowl, and I'm so proud of Indianapolis and the Host Committee,” Mince says.