Sports vision ripe for renewal

Effort needed to preserve venues

December 22, 2008

It's ironic that as the Indiana Sports Corp. begins celebrating its 30th anniversary, two building blocks of the amateur sports movement that ISC has so capably led are apparently in danger.

An IUPUI campus master plan that could be approved as soon as February calls for the demolition of both the Indianapolis Tennis Center and the Michael A. Carroll Track & Field Stadium. As our stories on page one explain, a convocation center and performing arts venue would be built where the tennis complex is. The track stadium site would be reserved as green space in the near term and then developed for housing and retail uses.

It's no surprise the tennis center is on the ropes. The complex that has hosted the Indianapolis Tennis Championships and its predecessor events since 1979 needs millions of dollars in repairs. There have been rumblings about the facility's demise for years. Now it's time for the tennis community, those who lead the sports movement and city leaders to come up with a plan to make sure tennis remains an important part of the city's sports calendar.

News of IUPUI's plan to do away with the track and field stadium is a surprise. It's possible the track itself could remain under the university's plan, but planners seem determined to do away with the stadium. The track at IUPUI is considered one of the top competition venues in the country and has been key to the city's landing a variety of events, from state high school championships to U.S. Olympic trials. Doing away with it without plans for a replacement seems shortsighted.

Final Fours and Super Bowls are fantastic additions to the city's sports scene, but the city's sports strategy wasn't built only on marquee events. It was built on a wide array of offerings in a variety of sports, from grass-roots to professional. If the city is serious about continuing to use amateur athletics, in particular, as an economic tool, more collaboration among the university, city leaders and sports organizations is clearly needed.

Perhaps the occasion of the Sports Corp.'s 30th anniversary will remind everyone of the common vision that launched the sports movement here. The ISC was created to put that common vision to work and has been behind the luring and staging of hundreds of events that have generated millions of dollars in economic activity.

But the Sports Corp. isn't looking back. It's sharing its expertise statewide. ISC is partnering with more than 30 organizations in a newly incorporated not-for-profit, Sports Indiana, to promote Indiana as a destination for sporting events. Sports Indiana and the NCAA are already working to together to place collegiate sports championships in communities around the state.

If sports groups around the state can cooperate, surely different players in Indianapolis can come together to make sure the city doesn't let two important venues slip away.


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