With Super Bowl Sunday right around the corner, 2012 host city Indianapolis is already gaining national recognition for preparing the town for the big event. 

Big sporting events often promise to renew a city's landscape but fall short of expectations. Not so in Indy, observers say.

According to The Atlantic, "The Super Bowl, in short, has done more to catalyze change in Indianapolis than it does in most cities—and all of this has taken place over the course of a recession."

The New York Times recently wrote that plans including a new community center, public housing and other projects "are part of a pot that started in 2008 with $38 million in local, state and federal money that has grown to $150 million and counting."

Architects, engineers and contractors, in the midst of a difficult downturn, have kept busy constructing a new stadium, hotel complex, public housing, streetscapes and other infrastructure in the Circle City.

The city has spent more than $150 million directly on projects and community initiatives around game day, but developers over the past several years have spent hundreds of millions more on larger projects.

For example, the 1.5-million-sq-ft JW Marriott complex, featuring what is now the tallest hotel in Indiana, was completed last year at a cost of about $450 million. Another major project is the 1.8-million-sq-ft Lucas Oil Stadium, finished in 2008 at a cost of about $720 million.

Whether the Giants or the Patriots take the trophy home on Sunday (sorry, Colts), the game plays a central role in this Midwest town's urban renewal.