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Super Bowl practice facility moving to UIndy

April 20, 2010
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The small, Division II sports program at the University of Indianapolis on the city’s south side is about to get a lift from the behemoth that is the National Football League.

The local host committee for the 2012 Super Bowl is set to announce Tuesday that UIndy will be the site for a new domed practice facility that will be used by the NFC champion in the weeks leading up to the big game.

Original plans called for the structure to be built at Arsenal Tech High School on the near-east side, as part of a larger neighborhood revitalization project. But committee members chose to team with UIndy, largely because it already is slated to break ground on an indoor, multi-purpose sports facility next month.

“It gives us a very clear role that we can play during that period of time when everyone’s eyes are on Indianapolis,” UIndy spokesman Scott Hall said.

UIndy has budgeted about $6 million for the practice facility. Bringing it up to NFL specifications could cost the committee an additional $1 million, which would be much less than building a new facility at Tech, said Mark Miles, chairman of the host committee.

Miles said the committee also chose UIndy because such a large structure would not have blended well with the near-east-side neighborhood.

“In terms of scale,” he said, “it was perhaps not ideal to the history and the aesthetics of Tech.”

The dome that has been in the planning stages for three years will be built on the northeastern corner of the UIndy campus, near the football stadium. It will be large enough to house an indoor football field, as well as an attached, 20,000-square-foot building with coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and training facilities.

The NFL’s use of the facility in the month leading up to the 2012 Super Bowl will require a larger domed area than originally planned. But university officials still expect the facility to open sometime this fall, despite the necessary design changes.

“Once the Super Bowl is over, we’re going to have presumably a larger and nicer facility than we would have had otherwise,” Hall said.

Tech High School and the surrounding neighborhood still will benefit from the city’s Super Bowl.

The committee will unveil plans Tuesday for its $11.2 million, so-called “legacy project,” which includes a 27,000-square-foot, $6 million community center on the Tech campus.

The facility will host the NFL Youth Education Town during the Super Bowl and will provide neighborhood programs and youth-development activities in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools.

“IPS is excited to welcome the community onto our campus, and we look forward to strengthening the sense of community that exists between the schools on this campus and our neareast-side neighbors,” IPS Superintendent Eugene G. White said in a news release.

IPS will own the facility, and the John H. Boner Community Center will coordinate neighborhood programming with organizations such as YMCA and Girls Inc., with the help of a $1 million donation from the NFL.

Tech also will receive $1.3 million in improvements to its football stadium, including new field turf and a resurfacing of the track in the stadium.

Boner Center CEO James Taylor said in a release that the new facility will fill a void on the near-east side.

“The central location and expanded programming of this facility will enhance the quality of life, health and vibrancy of our neighborhood residents for decades,” he said.

A major part of the city’s bid to host the game is the NFL’s legacy project. The aim is to spur redevelopment on the city’s blighted near-east side by rehabbing or building about 300 housing units and constructing the community center at Arsenal Tech.

About four in 10 houses are unoccupied in the neighborhood, which is bounded by Interstate 70 to the north, Washington Street to the south, Interstate 65 to the west and Emerson Avenue to the east.

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