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USA Football touring city, considering moving HQ here

February 26, 2010

Indianapolis is on the verge of scoring another significant sports governing body, and the move could give a much-needed boost to an old neighborhood southeast of downtown.

Officials for USA Football were in Indianapolis on Feb. 26, and sources told IBJ that the organization is seriously considering moving its headquarters here from its Vienna, Va., home this summer.

USA Football spokesman Steve Alic confirmed that he and other staffers were touring Indianapolis, but said a final decision on relocating the organization has not been made.

“We’ll have an idea if this will come to fruition between now and the end of May,” Alic told IBJ.

Other USA Football officials told IBJ that a decision would likely come much sooner, and that Indianapolis was the front-runner to replace the organization’s home in the Washington, D.C., area.

USA Football has about 30 employees—some of those in regional outposts. But its significance goes far beyond the staffers it could relocate here.

“This would be a huge coup for the city,” said Milt Thompson, an Indiana Sports Corp. board member who said he’s been involved in discussions with USA Football. “This is an organization with significant influence in one of the nation’s most popular sports. The clinics, conventions and other meetings they would bring here would bring a lot of positive attention to this city.”

Robert Vane, Mayor Greg Ballard’s deputy chief of staff, said the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is leading USA Football’s tour of the city.
“Obviously we’re supportive of organizations like that locating here,” Vane said. “It’s a good fit.”

Sources familiar with the tour said members of USA Football will meet with Ballard, Indianapolis Colts brass and Indiana Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, and tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Thompson said the tour also will include a site inspection of several potential parcels that might house the USA Football headquarters.

Sources familiar with the discussions said Carmel was initially considered, but shelved for a more central location. Pan Am Plaza and the 30 South Meridian building, where the ICVA has its headquarters, are also being considered.

But the need for more land could push the site search a few miles southeast of downtown.

“My understanding is they’re looking at the Citizens Gas property near the Twin Aire Shopping Center,” Thompson said. The Citizens Gas property is located at 2950 Prospect St.

Thompson added that city officials were told USA Football needed space for “four regulation-sized football fields.” Alic declined to give specifics about the tour.

“We’re here just to learn more about the city and its resources,” Alic told IBJ. “Right now, there’s nothing else to report.”

Sources familiar with the tour said USA Football officials are also meeting with local residential real estate agents to give USA Football officials information on the housing market for relocation purposes.

USA Football, established in 2002 and endowed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, is composed of youth coaches, league commissioners and game officials residing in all 50 states. USA Football has been designated the Official Youth Football Development Partner of the NFL and NFLPA.

The independent not-for-profit organization hosts more than 100 football training events annually offering education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners.

USA Football awards more than $1 million annually in equipment grants to youth football leagues and high school football programs based on merit and need.

The organization also offers as much as $500,000 to subsidize youth leagues volunteer background checks to help safeguard youth football participants and eradicate sexual predators from the youth football community.

Since 2006, USA Football has trained tens of thousands of youth football coaches across the U.S. through full-day coaching schools and its Certified Coaching Education Program.

Alic said USA Football has been attracted to Indianapolis due to its central location and presence of other sports organizations that USA Football partners with.

For instance, USA Football was commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations, based in Indianapolis, to help create an online varsity football coaching education course available to the country's high school football coaches and state athletic associations.

USA Football’s board members include some of the biggest names in the sport, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association executive director.
 

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