Like many, I remember the Indianapolis of the early ’70s. There was little reason to come downtown unless you worked there. It offered nothing after 4.
It took the vision of city and state leaders to build Market Square Arena. The arena, along with the expansion of a small convention center, brought a faint heartbeat of social life and a couple decent restaurants downtown.
A group of private, civic and elected officials followed Market Square Arena with the vision to make our city the “amateur sports capital of the world.” That
vision took our city from a Rust Belt town of failing industry to one of multiple world-class sport facilities, new business and related industries, along with national recognition of an up and coming city.
The 1982 expansion of the convention center, the building of the RCA Dome followed by the arrival of the Colts in 1984, turned the attitude of many and direction of our city from someplace you heard about to someplace you wanted to visit.
The current debate on the expansion of the convention center and new stadium is far too centered on the Colts.
Conventions bring millions of direct and indirect values to Indianapolis and Indiana each day. Recent losses of several trade shows have had a direct economic effect on central Indiana business and the jobs they provide.
The Colts and the publicity they bring to our city and state is important. But in the big picture, they only use a stadium 10 times a year. The focus of a new stadium, a byproduct of a convention center expansion, should be toward the other events a new one would bring or the current events our doing nothing could lose.
My company employs more than 140 Hoosiers, of which 40 percent live in cities like New Castle, Knightstown, Noblesville, Lebanon, Columbus and Muncie. I question the argument of some, that an expanded convention center and new stadium benefit only Indianapolis.
I support building industry and creating new jobs statewide. A larger convention center and a new multiple-purpose stadium will help do that.