As 2023 came to a close and the new year began, I found myself in a reflective mood. I suppose that is an annual occurrence for most of us as the calendar turns to a new year. If you’re a frequent reader of this column, you know I often advocate for positive change, sometimes offering up ideas for improving our region and state. But my thoughts early this year focused less on how we can improve and more on just how lucky I am to live in central Indiana.
There are many reasons to love our city and state. I’ve lived in Illinois, New York and Russia and have had the opportunity to visit most major cities in America and over 50 countries. The more I’ve traveled, the more I appreciate Indianapolis. Yes, we have our share of challenges, but Indy has big-city attractions (e.g., museums), amenities (e.g., world-class airport) and entertainment options (e.g., sporting events and concerts), without the big-city costs, aggravations and headaches.
After attending two Colts games in a row, one in which we beat the Las Vegas Raiders to keep our playoff hopes alive and one where we came up just short of advancing to the playoffs in a tough loss against the Houston Texans, it hit me how special it is that we live in a city where we have the opportunity to attend NFL games and experience the emotional highs and lows of sports in person. Only 32 cities in America can make that claim.
Early in the new year, I also attended two Pacers games. As I admired the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza, Commission Row and all the upgrades to Gainbridge Fieldhouse and watched the third-youngest (and arguably most exciting) NBA team in the league beat the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Atlanta Hawks, it occurred to me again how wonderful it is that Indianapolis is one of 28 cities in America that boasts an NBA team.
In other words, rather than focusing on what is wrong with Indianapolis, I found myself reflecting on all that is right and being grateful for the foresight of city leaders to imagine what Indianapolis could be and how investments in sports could help fuel the region’s growth. As both the popularity and the business of sports have grown to unimaginable heights, Indy is well positioned to capitalize and build upon our previous investments as evidenced by the calendar of events in 2024.
Next month, Indy will play host to the NBA All-Star Weekend, and more than 125,000 people will descend upon downtown for multiple All-Star events. In March, we will host first- and second-round March Madness basketball games at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. And right after we enjoy the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis will play host to the U.S. Swimming Olympic Team Trials in June at Lucas Oil Stadium, where three Olympic-size pools will be constructed. This largest indoor swim meet ever to take place will be broadcast live on NBC nine nights in a row in prime time, once again shining a bright light on Indy.
And in November, the most popular musical artist on the planet, Taylor Swift, will take advantage of our city’s investment in sports facilities by performing three nights in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium. Then to close the year out, Indy will once again host the Big Ten Football Championship Game at that same venue.
I can’t wait to experience an Indy Eleven soccer game at the new Eleven Park next year and, with any luck, watch the next WNBA superstar, Caitlin Clark, in an Indiana Fever jersey soon. I’m feeling grateful to live in central Indiana and looking forward to an action-packed 2024!•
Feltman is publisher of IBJ and CEO of IBJ Media. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.