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Colts camp could mean big payoff amid expenses for Westfield

September 7, 2017

The Indianapolis Colts will pay Grand Park Sports Campus—which is owned by the city of Westfield—$653,000 over 10 years to use the complex for the team's training camp.

The Colts will pay Grand Park $123,000 in am one-time payment, and in addition pay $53,000 each year over the course of the 10-year contract, according to Westfield officials. The 10-year deal was announced Wednesday.

Grand Park will keep all revenue from parking fees and food and beverage sales during the training camp. 

The Colts will operate Colts City—an interactive fan zone that will be in Lot G, off 186th Street on the south end of the 400-acre complex.

The revenue from parking and concessions should be far greater than what Grand Park collects in rent from the Colts. But Grand Park will also face several expenses.

Closer to home

If history holds true, Colts training camp is likely to fare better closer to Indianapolis. 

For 11 years (1999-2009), the Colts held training camp 70 miles southwest of Indianapolis at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute. Annual attendance there hovered around 28,000, according to Rose-Hulman officials.

In 2010, when Colts moved camp to Anderson University, which is within 30 miles of Indianapolis' densely populated north side and fast-growing Hamilton County, annual training camp attendance more than tripled.

In the early years after the Anderson University move, school officials said that over the 20 days of open practices the Colts camp drew an average of 6,000 fans on weekdays and 10,000 fans on weekends and special practices. 

At its peak, Anderson city officials estimated the annual economic impact of the Colts training camp at $5 million to $6.5 million, but Colts officials told IBJ on Wednesday they expect that to amount to increase with the move to Grand Park.

But steady attendance and revenue from the Colts training camp isn’t a sure thing. In 2014, attendance reportedly declined—to less than 40,000.

After the seven-year run in Anderson, the Colts this season brought their training camp to the team training complex on Indianapolis’ west side. That decision, team officials said from the beginning, was a short-term move.

The Colts Complex on West 56th Street doesn’t have room to accommodate fans. Colts officials said the fact that Grand Park does was key to their decision.

Boost in parking revenue

If the Colts camp brings in what Anderson University corralled in attendance at its peak, Grand Park could score another $200,000 or more in parking revenue a year. And with better facilities from which to sell concessions, it’s not unthinkable that Grand Park could generate a low- to mid- six-figure sum in food and drink sales during the course of a camp.

Additionally, Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward told IBJ that the team has a deal to buy all of the rooms for the duration of the camp at the nearby 152-room Cambria Hotel & Suites Westfield, which is expected to open in Grand Park Village in November.

Details of the contract between the Colts and the hotel are not public, but hospitality officials said that deal could generate $300,000 or more over the course of the camp. NFL teams usually ask for housing discounts to bring a training camp to town.

Hosting costs

With the contract between the Colts and the city of Westfield not yet available, it’s difficult to tell what costs Westfield might incur. But it’s safe to say they could be considerable. 

For instance, city of Anderson officials reported paying the NFL $560,000 for security at the Colts camp from 2010 to 2014. 

The Colts will use one artificial turf and three grass fields, said Ward, adding that it is still being determined if improvements will need to be made to those fields. It’s not clear who would pay for those improvements should they be deemed necessary.

The Colts also get the use of the Grand Park Events Center, where practice can be held and fans can be accommodated in case of inclement weather, said Colts General Manager Chris Ballard.

It appears there will need to be some grandstand additions if Grand Park is going to match the capacity at Anderson.

The “main field” the Colts will use “accommodates more than 2,000, at present, seated,” Ward said.

“Bleacher arrangements really cannot be finalized until we know which fields will be utilized and for what purpose,” Ward added.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said he has little doubt the deal will pay off.

“This is a big day,” he told more than 100 people gathered Wednesday for the announcement. “This agreement will take Grand Park and Westfield to the next level.”

Editor's note: Due to incorrect information provided to IBJ, the original version of this story said that the Colts would pay Westfield $600,000 to use the complex over 10 years.

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