Colts camp draws record crowd by wide margin

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indianapolis Colts have brought in a record crowd at this year’s training camp—by a wide margin.

As camp wrapped up Wednesday morning, Anderson University officials said 85,300 fans turned out at the 18-day camp. That’s almost four times as many as attended last year’s camp in Terre Haute, Colts officials said.

“I think that shows the number of fans along the I-69 corridor,” said James L. Edwards, Anderson University president. “We’re a lot closer to Indianapolis than people think, and with our proximity to Hamilton County, I think it was a big draw.”

Recently enhanced facilities, including improvements to parking, walking corridors, autograph areas and stadium seating, also helped drive up attendance, Edwards said.

“Add to that, the Colts players were incredibly accessible to fans,” he said. “There wasn’t a day that went by without a handful of Colts standing along the fence line signing autographs and talking with fans after practice ended.”

Tom Zupancic, Colts vice president of sales and marketing, said the team brought its mobile museum, Colts City activity center, numerous bands and other acts to Anderson in an attempt to ratchet up interest this year. Colts owner Jim Irsay also made several appearances, talking to and even handing out prizes to fans.

A night practice Tuesday drew 9,500. That far exceeded the 4,800 seating capacity of Anderson University's Macholtz Stadium.

Not even Anderson University officials expected the spectator numbers they saw at this year’s Colts camp.

“We thought coming in we could do better than the Colts did at Terre Haute,” Edwards said. “Maybe 40,000. But this turnout has just been incredible.”

The improvements the university made since it last hosted the camp in 1998 were only part of the reason for the attendance increase.

“This team has a lot of star power, and they’re just coming off of a Super Bowl run,” said Dave Moroknek, president of locally based MainGate Inc., which handles merchandise sales for the Colts and six other NFL teams. “Of all the training camps we’ve been to, the Colts and [Minnesota] Vikings have had the highest attendance by far. It’s off the charts.”

Moroknek reported that merchandise sales were up a “strong double-digit percentage,” during the 2009-10 season over the previous year. As good as last season was, this preseason, so far is up another double-digit percentage.

“A lot of that has to do with the change in the team’s training camp venue and the excitement that has brought,” Moroknek said.

Moroknek said while Peyton Manning jerseys are still a top seller, he said he is seeing big increases among other players this year as well, including Jeff Saturday, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Bob Sanders. Wrist bands called Silly Bandz and women’s apparel also are among top-selling items.

Anderson University has a one-year deal to host the Colts' preseason camp, but Edwards hopes to start discussions to extend the deal soon. Edwards said the threat of a work stoppage next season as NFL owners and players work out a new collective bargaining agreement is one factor that complicates matters.

“The Colts have been really happy here this year, so that makes us happy,” Edwards said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Speaking of the bottom line, Edwards added that the Colts’ camp is not profitable for the school. Fan admission was free, but parking cost $10, which was needed to offset security and operational expenses for the school, Edwards said.

“We are just hoping to break even,” Edwards said.

But, he added, the publicity the school has gained from this year’s training camp has been priceless.

“I can’t tell you how many young people attending the camp have told me, ‘I can see myself going to school here,’” Edwards said. “You can’t see yourself in a place if you’ve never been to a place. We have a lot to offer students here, and we have for a long time. But this camp has allowed us to open some people’s eyes on a regional and national level.”


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.