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Colts camp fans not impressed with Anderson

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Campus is beautiful. City needs some work.

That was the unfortunate refrain of many fans visiting Anderson University Tuesday for Indianapolis Colts afternoon practice. While most of them took the day off from work to make a day trip with their children to see the team, many had no plans to stay in town after practice was over. In and out.

"You drive through town, and it's really run down. A lot of buildings are boarded up. It's pretty concerning," Peter Rice of Indianapolis told The Herald Bulletin.

It was the first attended practice this year for Rice, a student at Purdue University who made one final summer road trip with close family friends the Koziols. Rice said the campus was quite impressive, and he recognizes that the city has made strides to improve its image, especially with a professional franchise as short-term tenants. Still, outside trips to see the Colts at training camp and occasional visits to friends who attend AU, Rice has little reason to spend money here.

"We didn't take any of the main roads to come here, and you can see in a lot of areas where the city is struggling," Rice said. "I just have no motivation to stay [after practice]."

While Anderson's economic and general ills aren't news, the city fought to bring back the Colts for the economic boon it would presumably create for the surrounding communities. Rice and the Koziols said they're sure having the team in town for training camp was good for the economy, though they had no intention of contributing.

With a feverish excitement surrounding the team and a mild summer yielding beautiful weather, the Colts have reaped one of their most successful campaigns strictly by attendance, with droves of fans coming out to quench their thirst for America's new pastime. Roughly 1,000 came to see practice Tuesday. But is it really benefiting the city?

If nothing else, the fans appreciate the convenience of camp being in Anderson. Tad Williams of Lawrence came with his wife, Lisa, and their two daughters, Monica and Camryn. The Williamses, like many coming from the Indianapolis area, shot up I-69 for the easy trek to AU. The girls were excited to catch a glimpse of their favorite player, Andrew Luck, and possibly get an autograph.

Tad Williams, who used to work for the team, has been to training camps here and Terre Haute and said Anderson is definitely the preferable venue. Still, even with his familiarity with the city, the family just came to get in and out of camp.

"There's just not a lot to do after this," Williams said.

Even though local businesses might not be seeing the direct benefits, fans raved about the campus and the actual training camp experience presented by the Colts.

Chris Johnson, who has also attended training camps for years at both locations, agreed that Anderson is a superior location to Terre Haute for several reasons. Johnson, who came to camp with sons Liam and Quentin, lives in Anderson now but has had jobs around the state and the country. He said the city seems to take much more pride in hosting the Colts than Terre Haute did and other cities that host NFL teams.

"The city really gets behind the camp and really supports the team. The campus has really improved its facilities and the city markets the team well. And the Colts do a good job here, too. The Colts City is a lot larger than it was in Terre Haute, and there's a lot more to do," Johnson said.

Several fans did acknowledge some of the economic improvements that have been made, especially along the I-69 corridor. Chris Titzer of Cincinnati came Tuesday with sons Kevin and Matthew for his first-ever training camp experience. He's been a Colts fan since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and he was living in Evansville.

Titzer had never been to Anderson, though he's familiar with the economic turmoil of recent decades. He acknowledged he hadn't stopped in town on the way in, but said he might stop somewhere with his sons on the way back home.

"This is a beautiful campus, and the people here in town seem friendly. The atmosphere seems pretty positive," Titzer said.

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  • Food choices
    Jim it seems that you enjoy fried foods so more power to you. However,that's about all there is. Sushi at the horse track? Are you sure what actually comprises that "sushi"? All kidding aside, of course Indy has its share of un-smiling greasy joints but what Indy has that Anderson hasn't and likely won't any time soon is an upbeat, professional, can-do attitude. Every time I return to Anderson, there still is this perpetual longing for prosperity, no effective plans or actions, just longing. I really don't mean to be so negative about Anderson but as an outsider, the place just depresses me and I think that is exactly the same impression the visitors are getting. There's just really nothing there once you go much beyond the bypass...and maybe by passing the town is best.
  • Indy metro doesn't even keep it's funding
    Mike- I definitely agree that it's in the interest of everyone in Indiana to see the types of communities you mentioned thrive. However, it's important to note that the Indy metro area doesn't even keep it's share of funding that it provides to the state. It gives a greater percentage of tax money to the state than the percentage it receives back. Despite Indy being "underfunded" relative to other areas of the state it continues to thrive for other reasons. The bottom line is that employers continue to add jobs here. People continue to relocate here from other areas of the state as well as regionally. The Indy area continues to be really the only area of the state attractive for recent college grads looking to start their life/career. It can certainly seem like Indy metro gets everything but you've got to keep in mind that Indy metro has over 29% of the state's population and continues to grow while the rest of the state doesn't attract new people. Soon, the Indy area will comprise over a third of the state's population. The economic impact is even greater than the population percentage. What's going on in Indiana isn't unique to this state. Places that attract white collar jobs, college grads, etc. thrive. Those that have relied on factories in the past are struggling to redefine themselves.
  • We need to rebuild these secondary communities
    This is what happens when a state legislature adopts an Indy First, Second and Third attitude. Fort Wayne, Anderson, Muncie, Marion, Kokomo, and Logansport all communities with pride,had industry and supported surrounding populations. But the neglect and lack of support for these communities from the state had sunk these once vibrant communities. This Indy First attitude has cost these smaller communities industry and residents of these communities opportunities.
    • Oops
      Just noticed the article is from The Associated Press.
    • Kind of mean spirited
      Sounds like the author views himself as a person from the "big city" picking on the "small town" ... But, remember, outside of Indiana, Indianapolis is the butt of the jokes: http://www.theonion.com/video/indianapolis-2020-olympic-bid-video-our-time-to-sh,26158/ Also, in adjacent states,residents use the word "hoosier" just like we use the words, "hillbilly" or "redneck" here. Doesn't feel very nice when directed towards you, does it? Try to be nice.
    • Anderson
      Joan, and all you other complainers..Lighten up! Anderson is NOT New York City.... And for those that didn't like on their 1st trip to Colts training camp, don't go back!!! The Colts made a commitment, they will live up to it and it WILL help the city of Anderson. You don't get crowds of 5,000+ on a Tuesday night, when there is nothing to do...
    • Anderson
      While Anderson isn't a place to write home about, they actually do a nice job with the camp. It is easy to get to, and the campus is very clean and nice. The city could be better, but suffers from political division. Not enough working together to tackle the cities issues. That is a shame when Democrats and Republicans cannot even work together to benefit the city they live in. Sadly, this is why Anderson cannot move forward and may not for a long time.
    • Nice Work
      Lets interview a few folks and rip on Anderson. Seriously, IBJ? You are better than this, arent you?
    • Small Sampling
      Kind of a damning article given how few opinions were sought and the lack of any empirical data about fan spending in Anderson. A little fact finding was in order before this article should have been distribued.
    • It is what it has always been.
      Union stronghold, factory jobs, not a center for the arts and culture...just like all the towns in Indiana that are not Indianapolis...they used to have camp in Terre Haute, where there are two universities, and Steve Martin once called Terre Haute the most boring place in America he later backed off when he was invited back to the town and given the key to the city by the mayor...he was quoted then as saying "I should have said Abilene"). Indiana is towns just like Anderson, full of Kentucky and Tennessee transplants who moved here because of the factories. As for the restaurants there are some good ones...Art's as mentioned is a good one, and despite Joan's derisive comments above, the Lemon Drop serves good fried food...the menu is burgers, tenderloins, onion rings, fries, chili, etc...what do you want? There are lot's of places in Indy just like it Joan, try Peppy's in Fountain Square if you want yummy grease without a smile...if you want sushi, go to the casino, several restaurants there, including a couple upscale...we have all the chains here too, just go down Scatterfield/109 on your way to campus...as for Moochie's comment, thanks for defending Anderson, but this story ran in the Anderson paper this morning and the guy who wrote it works for the Anderson Herald Bulletin...so the article is "Anderson on Anderson" crime...save us from ourselves...IBJ just co- opted the story from the wire...
      • COLTS
        I will follow the Colts where ever they go? I look at the cities they have been in Anderson, Terre Haute, back to Anderson.No coment! GO INDIANAPOLIS COLTS !!!!!!
      • Anderson
        Let's just remember that this is a town whose best idea for "urban renewal" is burying half the city under a reservoir...
      • Anderson
        I have been to three practices and supported the local economy each time with a meal.
      • Seems odd..
        Poor Anderson.. I'm sure it was a real coup for them to host this, and plenty of local people were proud and excited.. And then IBJ posts a story critical of their city.. Geez, it seems a bit unnecessary doesn't it IBJ? We all know that Anderson is struggling.. Did you really need to throw it in their faces?
      • The problem is not the city... It's the venue
        Last year was the first time my family and I attended a training camp practice. We were disappointed with the lack of seating available to fans near the practice field (only a couple of relatively small sets of bleachers). For us, it was standing room only and our kids couldn't see through the crowd. So, combined with the heat, we didn't stay more than 20 minutes. I just don't understand why they don't utilize the game field for all of their practices. (Isn't any single Colts practice bigger than any AU home game?) At any rate, we won't be going back unless the team moves to a more fan-friendly venue with adequate seating.
        • Maybe it's changed
          If you are talking about the Lemon Drop by the railroad tracks, the food was mediocre at best and the inside of the restaurant run-down and tired looking. Truly a greasy spoon location that appealed to the over 60 crowd or the hourly workers at DR. I think there was more sentimental attachment to that place than having "good" food. That being said, I am hoping someone has since taken over and maybe it is now better. Not sure though who is left in that part of town to keep the place vibrant.
        • Maybe they need to market it better....
          It's a "small town" and what exactly do people want there to be for them after practice? I mean -- if it were held in Noblesville, Fishers or Westfield, what would people do in those towns after practice? Those towns haven't seen the down turn that Anderson has, but there still isn't a great deal to do any of them. If you want to do something kind of different in Anderson, stop at Hoosier Park to see the horse races or make a stop at the Casino to kill sometime. There are some good places to eat as well -- The Lemon Drop, Art's Pizza, and Mancino's are all right on the road that lead you from I69 to training camp -- and would all be highly recommended and aren't your typical "chain" resturants you see all over the Northside of Indy.
          • Wipe the slate clean and start again
            Having been a Delco-Remy employee in the early to late-80's, Anderson was nothing to write home about even when things were still viable. All of the DR plants were still open and employment was good. I did not move there and chose to commute about 65 miles each way because even then Anderson was a backwards abyss. The factory employees were resentful about college grads working there, the divorce rate was the highest in the nation and as a young person, you went to Indy to have something fun to do. So its no surprise people come to see the Colts and get the heck out of Dodge. Best thing for Anderson to do is level anything not occupied, turn it back into farm fields or urban gardens and take a really hard look on how to modernize itself with the rest of Central Indiana. It's a town truly left behind by its own doing.

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