Officials for the Indiana Invaders track and running club and the city of Indianapolis announced yesterday that a championship cross-country course and training venue will be developed along the banks of the White River downtown.
Ground was broken this week on the project, which is being financially supported by locally based retailer The Finish Line, St. Vincent Sports Performance Center and the End Result Co., a Carmel race-timing and -scoring company.
Walkerton-based ecological services company JF New has been hired to handle the initial clearing and grooming of the grounds.
The 20-acre development, which includes a parcel behind the Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium on IUPUI's campus and another between 10th and 16th streets along Fall Creek Parkway, will include two international championship cross-country courses and additional trails connecting the courses.
The venue-to be called the Indiana Cross Country Arena at White River State Park-will cost just under $100,000 to develop, said Invaders director Greg Harger. All funding will come from corporate sponsors.
An advisory board including longtime Carmel High School cross-country coach Chuck Koeppen and Indiana State University cross-country coach John McNichols has been assembled to help guide the project, which is set to be complete next August.
In October, a Web site will be launched to chronicle progress on the race course and to publish details on administration and operation of the facility. The site also will publish news on official scheduled events, explain online event-registration procedures and plan championship bids.
Due to the championship-caliber cross-country course already in Terre Haute, Harger thinks "Indiana will become a mecca for cross-country in the United States."
The Indiana Invaders and White River State Park will direct development of all cross-country programming at the venue. The courses will be used for all levels of cross-country competition and training, Harger said.
"It would normally cost $1 million to develop a facility like this," Harger said. "The beauty of this project is, much of the infrastructure is already in place. The levee will be our grand stand and the bridges, stadium and other structures in place will serve as a place where we can hang banners and have other needed signage."
The project will include "hot spots" for electronic scoring and timing along with course markers, chutes and other trail enhancements, Harger said.
The venue's proximity to large parking areas, a major airport, downtown hotels and restaurants and the venue's ability to host vendors and other corporate interests during a meet will make it one of the world's top cross-country courses, Harger said.
The Invaders were instrumental in landing the 2004 USA World Championship Cross Country Trials for Indianapolis.