Super Bowl guru wants BioCrossroads-type effort for Indy sports

May 1, 2013
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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.”



  • Simply Put........
    Simply put....Sports matter
  • question
    What can/will Sports Circle Indy do that the Indiana Sports Corp can't? Anthony mentions advocacy, communication, networking and education, which ISC could do.
  • More With The Jock Sniffing
    Hasn't our jock-sniffing economy done enough damage? Talk to me about arts, education, infrastructure, furthering our image as a tech hub, I'll listen. Enough with the jock sniffing detracts from what Indy REALLY needs to be focusing on for the good of all, not just the self aggrandizement of a few preeners who couldn't make the team in high school and are trying to make up for it now on our dime.
  • Why is arts and sports either or proposition?
    Why do certain people seem to think that supporting sports and/or the arts is an either or proposition. Why can't they co-exist? Maybe an organization should focus on that.
    • Good point, Matt.
      Look to other real cities like Pittsburgh and it's clear they can co-exist. But not in a city with a mayor who allocates $175,000 a year for its world-class symphony and $6 million for a cricket stadium.
    • Bold Bio Crossbucks
      Need-ant argue in what name and behind what purpose a major economic and developmental improvement lay claim. Regardless of where a Bold Bio Crossroads initiative comes, we should take a local leaders request for recommendations as not cause for critique but an opportunity to suggest something the city and, in turn, its sports and life sciences themes benefit. The Sports Corp should look beyond improving the wonderful highlights of our city that have already drawn national acclaim. Sports and Life Sciences are about health and overcoming obstacles and challenges. Its about conquering opponents on the field and court and in our blood. In order to promote these well aligned causes, we have provide some of the most world class venues and accommodations to facilitate the latest advances and spectacles. Now we must look to connectivity. Connectivity in Sports and Life Sciences is critical to success. Whether it is connecting the latest technological and biological sciences, labs, and facilities, or connecting spectators to their venues, lodging, and entertainment, the more well connected Indy is, the better the its success. Indy, in one year, rewrote the book on how to host a Superbowl. If it wishes to play host again, it must continue to advance. Since our venues and institutions for sports and life sciences sit within walking distance of union station, the sports corp and bio-crossroads should use their political and social clout to push a rail line to its facilities from the number 1 airport in North America. Indy does such big and bold things but sometimes forgets to fill in the cracks or connect the disconnected. Lilly alone, for all that it has done, deserves a rail to union station. The hospitals saw the importance of connectivity and pulled together an elevated rail line that is decades ahead of Indy's slacking advances. I hope Indy, the Sports Corp, and Biocrossroads connect and lay rail from the track to the fields of our life sciences and sports attractions.
      • Airport Rail
        Nick, I couldn't agree more. Indy has done an outstanding job developing world class facilities (Lucas Oil, Bankers Life, IND, the new Mariott, etc....) but is simply lacking a HUGE piece of the puzzle. It has grown a reputation for conventions and large events, but lacks a quick, convienient option to get downtown to where the action is. Additional mass transit projects aside, a rail line from IND to Union Station is a MUST for Indy to take the next step. My biggest complaint about the current Indy Connect Mass Transit initiative is that the plan does not call for the hub of transit to be at Union Station, citing some reasons, to be quite honest, that do not make much sense to me. Union Station is already there, perfectly located, and just begging to be used. I digress. I am very pleased with how Indy has advanced over the last decade(s) and hope to see further bold thinking to continue the progress. My last thought...There does need to be a great emphasis on the arts; ecspecially the symphony. They are a gem for this city and need more support.

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      1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

      2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

      3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

      4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

      5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.