Ferris wheel, beer garden (and youth sports) on tap for Westfield grand opening

June 18, 2014
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Nearly 350,000 visitors have lined the fields at Westfield’s Grand Park Sports Campus since competition kicked off this spring, and now the city is hosting a three-day grand-opening celebration that promises to live up to the description.

The party starts Friday, with a 6 p.m. parking lot concert by local favorites Dave & Rae, a festival-like food court complete with beer garden (yes, some local brews will be on tap) and free rides on a 50-foot Ferris wheel offering a view of the whole 400-acre park.

Saturday’s festivities include the expected ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m.—with a grand twist. The ribbon Mayor Andy Cook, Gov. Mike Pence and others will snip from the stage stretches 1,000 feet from end to end. (A thousand=a grand, get it?)  

Then comes a pair of concerts (Circle City Royals at 3:30 and Wright Brothers Band at 7) leading up to a 10 p.m. fireworks show.

The celebration wraps up early Sunday with a 5K race and shorter fun run through the complex, starting at 8 a.m. (Find the full schedule here.)

Oh, and don’t forget the main attraction: youth sports.

This weekend’s schedule includes a lacrosse tournament (fields F2-F8), baseball tournament (diamonds D1-D8) and championship softball (D21-D26).

Grand Park is the largest such complex in the United States, with 26 baseball diamonds and 31 multi-use fields. The $45 million park is an economic development play for Westfield, which hopes to draw businesses interested in the youth-sports market.

Nationwide, more than one-third of all tourism spending is tied to youth sports, according to the Michigan-based Travel and Tourism Research Association. Parents were expected to spend $8.1 billion last year on travel alone.

Cook expects commercial development to take off now that the park is open and crowds are exceeding expectations. Organizers projected opening-year attendance of 500,000—a mark the park likely will surpass well before season’s end.

“Those people want to see the numbers, and we’re producing the numbers,” he said.

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Click here for more of IBJ's coverage of Grand Park.
 

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