Beginning back in the 1970s, Indianapolis leaders made a concentrated effort to bring athletic teams, events, and governing bodies to the city. They’d been looking for a smart, effective way to revitalize the region’s economy and bring Indy into the global spotlight, and they knew that nothing spoke to the Hoosier culture quite like sports—where teamwork, dedication, and good old-fashioned hard work reign.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Indiana Sports Corp revolutionized the industry, essentially writing the playbook on how cities can create a booming athletic community. And after years of being Indiana-No-Place, they transformed Indianapolis into the Amateur Sports Capital of the World. Founded in 1979, Indiana Sports Corp was America’s first sports commission ever. ISC recognized the value in Indianapolis’ downtown area, venues, and community. For the past 40 years, they’ve used our strengths to fill our stands and bring the biggest sporting events in history to our streets.
Now, the Indy sports scene is home to…
…the racing capital of the world.
Every May, Indy comes alive with the roar of engines. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the oldest continually operating racetrack as well as the world’s largest sports seating facility featuring IndyCar, NASCAR, USAC, and MotoAmerica. It hosts the largest single-day sports event, the Indy 500. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is an event like no other, with celebrations all month long like the mini-marathon and the festival parade. People from all over the country flock to watch the 33 drivers compete for 500 miles to drink that cold bottle of milk and kiss the legendary bricks.
Hoosiers love their basketball – and for good reason! The infamous Hoosiers nickname has spread from IU basketball and of course the historic film based on high school basketball. The Indiana Pacers have a history of being a beloved team. Legends like Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, and George McGinnis have all called Indianapolis home. The team has played at Gainbridge Fieldhouse since 1999, and it is widely considered one of the best arenas in the NBA. The team has a great relationship with the Indy area through its community relations program, Pacers Cares. This program focuses on giving back through areas of Education, Health & Wellness, and Social Outreach. Also based in Indianapolis is the WNBA Indiana Fever. The Fever has qualified for the playoffs in 13 of its 21 seasons in Indiana. They also have a community relations program, Fever Cares, serving primarily youth and families of the Indianapolis community. Ultimately, basketball unifies our community, whether it’s through roaring, loyal fan zones, or coming together through service.
Since the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984, they have become a total sensation. They really became a dominating team when Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, joined them in 1998. He led them to victory at Super Bowl XLI in 2006. Lucas Oil Stadium is famously regarded as another one of the best sports facilities in the world (I’m sensing a theme here, Indianapolis). On game day, you can find all 4 blocks of Georgia Street transformed into a tailgater’s dream, complete with food trucks and a beer garden, as well as all of Indy’s event centers packed with people. The Colts also participate in a variety of community engagement programs like volunteering, blood drives, and an annual 5K. The players are known to visit different high school teams, youth programs, and game day events. Go Horse!
This team is one of the newest sports teams on the scene in Indiana. They played their inaugural game in 2014, symbolizing the return of professional soccer to Indy. Although the Indy Eleven franchise currently calls Carroll Stadium their home, they will soon be moving into a local development called Eleven Park—a 20,000 stadium for soccer fans around the state. The team’s mission, “To win championships with and for the community,” suggests the strong relationship they have with fans and the surrounding Indianapolis area. The Brickyard Battalion started as a grassroots effort to bring professional soccer to Indiana but is now an independent fan group for Indy Eleven. Members participate in community activities and trips and receive discounts at businesses in the area. They also help fill the supporter section at games and rally together with chants and songs of team support. The journey of bringing professional soccer to Indiana was a long effort supported by thousands. Indy Eleven and its fans are full of pride and passion for the team they all helped establish.
…and so much more.
When Indiana chose to become a home for both amateur and professional sports, Hoosiers answered the call. Indianapolis is host to a plethora of professional teams, state of the art facilities, and sports business headquarters. The laundry list of options is part of what makes it an incredible host city and arguably the sports capital of the world. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and USA Gymnastics are all headquartered here in Indy. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bankers Life, and Lucas Oil are all unbeatable facilities. Along with some of the best spaces, the connectedness and walkability of downtown make it convenient as ever for spectators of these big sporting events. Downtown Indy is also filled with different entertainment amenities to occupy fans throughout their stay. From the Pan Am games of 1987 to Super Bowl XLVI to many NCAA Final Four tournaments, Indy proves this success time and time again. Things look bright for next year where we will host the NBA’s 2021 All-Star Game.
Sports are at the heart of Indy and a part of the Hoosier spirit. Indiana may seem quiet and humble, but there’s nowhere else in the world that gets loud and proud like Indy. Nowhere else that comes together with its teams to give back to the community like Indy. Nobody that does it quite like Indy.
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