Indiana Sports Corp. CEO Allison Melangton is starting to talk about making Indianapolis an international sports city.
Maximizing that initiative, she said, will require a group effort. And there might even be a platform on which to build an international reputation.
Indianapolis became an amateur sports capital in the ’80s and ’90s, and a national sports hub in the 2000s with the success of the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and hosting the 2012 Super Bowl.
Not too shabby. But last week, Melangton told more than 100 members of Sports Circle Indy, an upstart local group, that the city needs to think boldly.
Speaking to the group at the Columbia Club, Melangton said that for Indianapolis to maximize its potential as an international sports city, local sports teams, facilities, organizations and businesses need to come together to do for sports what BioCrossroads has done for life sciences.
“We have to work together,” she said, pointing out that sports is one of the area’s biggest employers.
Melangton, who was CEO of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee, is calling for a cohesive effort among sports entities to draw some of the world’s biggest sports events and organizations to Indianapolis.
Ken Ungar, who co-founded Sports Circle Indy along with Faegre Baker Daniels attorney Amie Peele Carter and St. Vincent Sports Performance Executive Director Ralph Reiff, thinks his organization could grow into the type of entity Melangton wants.
After only one year in existence, Sports Circle Indy has grown to 225 dues-paying members, said Ungar, a former Indianapolis Motor Speedway executive who now runs Indianapolis-based branding and marketing firm US Sports Advisors.
Sports Circle Indy is focused on advocacy, communication, networking and education, Ungar said. He sees a day when it could work alongside other organizations to increase the size of the sports industry here.
“What Allison is talking about is exactly what we want this organization to be dedicated to,” Ungar said. “Sports can be insular. We have to get people in this industry out of their silos and talking. We need to engage more senior-level leaders.”
Melangton clearly supports what Sports Circle Indy is doing. Not only was she a keynote speaker at the organization’s biggest event to date, but the ISC is a Sports Circle Indy member.
One of Sports Circle Indy’s first major objectives is to commission an economic-impact study encompassing all sports events and organizations in Indianapolis.
“We’ve seen economic-impact studies on motorsports and the Super Bowl, but we’ve never had one on the big picture of sports in this city,” Ungar said. “That will help us not only realize the impact but to set our future objectives and priorities.”
Sports Circle Indy is raising money for the study and finding an organization—likely an academic institution—to partner with. Ungar hopes to have it done by year’s end.
Melangton gave the call to action for sports entities to come together to do even more.
Longer term, Ungar hopes to grow Sports Circle Indy to where it has a paid staff that can focus on sports initiatives full time.
“We want to facilitate growth,” Ungar said, “by getting people in sports to work together on things that will benefit all of us.”