Ballard: New $6M complex will help attract world sports

Mayor Greg Ballard revealed Tuesday during a trade mission to India that Indianapolis hopes to host the inaugural United States Cricketing Championship next summer or fall.

It was the first public announcement of the city's plans, and suddenly shed light on a $6 million project to create a complex that would host the event on the city's far east side.

Already, Ballard has enlisted the Indiana Sports Corp. and Visit Indy, the city’s tourism arm, to help attract, promote and conduct the cricket event, according to Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the mayor. The event will be sanctioned by the United States of America Cricket Association.

Lotter told IBJ the effort to host the event is part of the initiative to transform a 40-acre city park in the 1300 block of South Post Road into an international sports complex capable of hosting local, regional, national and international cricket, rugby, lacrosse and hurling events.

One multi-use field already is complete at the Post Road Community Park and is being used by the city’s local cricket club, Lotter said. The park will be renamed Indianapolis World Sports Park.

The $6 million project began two years ago. Lotter said that once it is complete in summer or fall of 2014, the park will have five athletic fields and be capable of holding events attracting as many as 10,000 spectators.

Money for the project is coming from Rebuild Indy funds—the revenue from the sale of the city’s water system to Citizens Energy Group.

“We’re talking about creating some of the most premier fields in the U.S., built to international standards, that can host these sports,” Lotter said. “We think this project helps cement the city’s reputation as a sports capital of the world.”

The project also includes walking and fitness trails, additional parking, bathrooms and concession facilities, as well as room for temporary bleachers.

Lotter and Ballard are confident developments like these will help Indianapolis attract businesses from India and other parts of the globe where these sports are popular.

“What the mayor is saying is, ‘This is your national pastime, [and] when you think about growing that sport, we want you to think about Indianapolis,’” Lotter said.

“Having these offerings here we think will help this city attract international businesses—companies from parts of the world where these sports are very popular. These types of developments could be a very important drawing card.”

Last year, the one complete field hosted an event featuring cricket teams from Eli Lilly and Co. Inc., Roche Diagnostics, Dow AgroSciences and Indiana and Purdue universities. Ballard told a delegation in India on Tuesday that once the facility reaches maturity, he hopes it attracts teams from around the world, according to The Times of India.

“Cricket is not exceptionally strong in the U.S. right now. I need to change that,” Ballard told a gathering in Hyderabad, Indianapolis’ sister city. “When people from around the world think of cricket, I want them to think of Indianapolis.

“This is our commitment to international sports. We want to send signals to the world that Indianapolis is a place that you need to be looking at. We adapt to everything, we receive everybody and we are an extremely inclusive city.”

Ballard also spent Tuesday, according to The Times of India, talking to Hyperabad locals about the Indianapolis 500, new cycling trails around Indianapolis, and the city’s strengths in sectors like information technology, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

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