BENNER: From Boehm to Hayward to a New York Super Bowl

May 29, 2010

Of this, that and the other:

Carve Ted Boehm’s face into our sports initiative’s Mount Rushmore.

The Indiana Supreme Court justice announced his retirement after 14 years on the high court this past week and, while he is first and foremost a respected jurist, he also played a leading role in the city’s emergence as an amateur sports capital.

Boehm was the first president and CEO of the Indiana Sports Corp. and later served as chairman and CEO of the Pan American Games. Many say that without Boehm’s foundational leadership, Indianapolis would not have eventually positioned itself to host a Super Bowl.

Whenever I refer to the city’s “visionaries,” Boehm is one of those whose eyesight was 20-10.

Befitting his Hoosier roots and his graduation from Shortridge High School at a time city basketball was in its heyday, Boehm is a hoops nut.

It should be noted that, in light of what is occurring now, Boehm played a crucial role in keeping the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis (via the local ownership of Herb and Mel Simon) in 1982.

“In his humble, unassuming and unselfish way, all Ted has ever wanted to do is to make our city better,” says his friend, Jim Morris, now president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

And speaking of, the Pacers just can’t catch a break, unless it’s a bad one. First, their top draft choice from 2009, Tyler Hansbrough, suffers from vertigo and misses most of the season. Now, their second-round draft choice from last June, point guard A.J. Price, fractures his left kneecap in a charity game and is out four to six months.

• If you know CEO Allison Melangton and her Super Bowl 2012 Host Committee staff, they are not breathing a sigh of relief over the NFL’s decision to bring the 2014 Super Bowl north to New York and take Indianapolis off the hot, er, cold, seat.

But no matter what the weather is in Indy 20 months from now, we won’t subject 70,000 paying customers at the game itself—at a price likely to be more than $1,000 per seat—to the potential of bone-chilling temperatures born on howling winds that are common to the Meadowlands, where the new $1.6 billion open-air stadium for the Giants and Jets is located.

New York is certain to put on one great party and, as its winning bid pointed out, cold-weather games long have been part of the NFL’s lore and legend.

Still, the league is taking a huge gamble with its most prized commodity.

• As tempting as it might be, I agree with those who believe the Pacers need to pass on drafting local hero Gordon Hayward who, by the way, is featured in an outstanding story in this week’s Sports Illustrated. In the piece, which focuses on Hayward’s decision to leave Butler University for the NBA after leading the Bulldogs within a last-second shot of winning the national championship, Hayward’s father is quoted asking, “What else is he going to do … get Butler all the way back to the final and hit the shot?”

Well, yes.

By the way, according to a study commissioned by Butler, the Bulldogs’ run to the championship game generated 51,000 media impressions worth $437 million in ad value. That’s a wow.

And here are some other Final Four figures, notable because none of them have anything to do with money or activities that took place inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

For instance, there were 20 trees planted at Martin Luther King Jr. Park; 400 high school and college students attended the Sports Career & College Expo; 1,128 new and lightly used sports equipment items were collected through the Geared for Health program; 1,190 youth attended various clinics; 1,250 pounds of excess and unserved food from catered events was collected by Second Helpings; 2,010 boxes of food were distributed through the Feed the Hungry program; 2,010 pairs of shoes were donated to disadvantaged youth through the Samaritan’s Feet program; and 2,200 youth participated in the Final Four Dribble. Nearly 53,000 attended the interactive fanfest Bracket Town and 130,000 turned out for the free Big Dance concerts at White River State Park.

Oh, and area middle-schoolers collected 300,000 cans for recycling.

Good stuff.•


Benner is director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. Listen to his column via podcast at www.ibj.com. He can be reached at bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.


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