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MELANGTON: When it comes to sports, strike while the iron is hot

November 10, 2012

melangtonIn many ways, our schedule of events defines Indiana Sports Corp. That—along with our youth initiatives that will touch 185,000 young people throughout Indiana this year—is what separates us from our competitors in 500 other markets throughout our country.

We’ve had unmatched success with our events since Indiana Sports Corp. was started as the country’s first sports commission in 1979. And we are committed to maintaining our place as not only the country’s first sports commission, but also the country’s leading sports commission.

Before I left the Indiana Sports Corp. staff in 2008 to lead the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, my responsibilities included reviewing events and leading our bid efforts to attract marquee events.

Four years later, now that I have returned to the Sports Corp. staff as president, this strategic analysis of our schedule and potential bids continues to be a large part of my first 50 days on the job.

Now is the time to leverage the enthusiasm around the success of the 2012 Super Bowl. Just last week, we jointly announced with Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics that the 2015 U.S. Gymnastics Championships will come to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Even before we pursue another event, I would put our upcoming schedule of events up against any other city’s. Many of these events have become annual feathers in our cap.

We remain committed to raising the bar with these events and securing the privilege to continue to host them year after year. The Big Ten Football Championship Game returns Dec. 1. NCAA championships—Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, the Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional, Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals, and the Women’s Rowing Championships—are all slated for an eight-week period in the Circle City from March to May.

The NCAA has been a key partner for Indiana for years, stretching back long before it moved its headquarters to Indianapolis more than a decade ago. That relationship includes six Men’s Final Fours, two Women’s Final Fours, and dozens of championship events dating to the 1980 Men’s Final Four. And our relationship with the NCAA provides a diverse schedule of events moving forward, one that allows our community to welcome new visitors and enjoy new opportunities.

The Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals (May 19) will be the first time the NCAA has selected a non-East Coast site to host a portion of this championship.

Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships are slated for the IU Natatorium in the years to come. The Men’s Final Four returns in 2015, followed by the Women’s Final Four in 2016.

Our relationship with the Big Ten—one that also spans decades—includes the conference’s Football Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium through at least December 2015. In 2014 and 2016, we will again host the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Through the Sports Indiana initiative, Indiana Sports Corp. is working with cities throughout the state to share best practices for bidding on and hosting events. More and more sporting events are showing up on calendars in Evansville, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Hamilton County and other Indiana communities. This initiative continues to produce results.

Everything on our schedule of events promises economic impact, national attention and the opportunity to provide programming for Indiana youth while creating unique experiences for Indiana fans and volunteers.

Our schedule is the envy of just about every other city in America and a pretty full plate. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t actively reviewing marquee events to add to our calendar, while also working to extend several of these current agreements.

We’ve announced our intention to bring the Super Bowl back to Indiana in 2018. Super Bowl XLVI was a tremendous success by all accounts and we’d love to build on the excitement, initiatives and civic engagement of these past four years.

We have not been shy about our commitment to pursue a marquee Olympic Trials event for Indiana in 2016. Dating to 1979, our roots are in amateur and Olympic sports. And we want to make sure that, in 2016, Indiana is a stage on which athletes compete to represent our country at the Olympics.

The sports landscape is also becoming more diverse as new sports emerge and become popular. We need to investigate which of these sports might be a good fit for our state.

Make no mistake about it, the competition has increased among cities for these marquee events. That is why our financial supporters, partners and volunteers are so important. Without them, we won’t be able to attract these events and maintain our place as the nation’s leading sports commission.•

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Melangton is president of Indiana Sports Corp. Views expressed here are the writer’s.

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