Deal reached to bring IU-Notre Dame game back to Victory Field

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Indiana University Athletic Director Fred Glass wants an IU-Notre Dame baseball game at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis to become a big annual event and that wish is now one step closer.

The two schools have reached an agreement with the Indianapolis Indians to hold a game at the home of the AAA minor league franchise April 26, 2016.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources familiar with it said there will be a ticket-revenue sharing component.

It won’t be a huge money maker for any of the three parties involved, but Glass said it gives both schools' baseball programs exposure in an important market. The Indians too will benefit from the exposure, team officials said.

“It’s always good to expose Victory Field to a new audience or have our fans see the venue in a new light,” said Indians General Manager Randy Lewandowski. “It’s also an important mission for us to bring more people downtown and be an economic driver for the city.”

IU and Notre Dame first played at Victory Field last month, and the game drew 8,728, about double what the Indians initially expected.

More than two-thirds of the venue’s 30 suites were sold for the game with the seven daily fee suites selling almost immediately after the game was announced.

“The game exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Lewandowski said. “Once we saw the response from the Indianapolis community and IU and Notre Dame alumni bases, it was really only a matter of scheduling the event.”

Glass said the business-to-business networking and socialization between IU and Notre Dame alumni bases at the game was “fantastic.”

Though it couldn’t be confirmed, officials for IU and Notre Dame think this year’s game could be the most attended college baseball game in the state’s history.

The Hoosiers and Irish are currently chasing a spot in this year’s NCAA tournament. After the two college teams’ seasons end, Indians officials hope to sit down with officials from both schools to hammer out details of the game.

Glass wants to brand the game with a name such as the Irish-Hoosier Classic or the Hoosier-Shamrock Classic.

Lewandowski said that type of branding is possible for next year as is the naming of a media partner for the game.

This year, there was no media partner and no outside advertising. Indians officials only used their ticket sales database and IU and Notre Dame alumni databases to market the tickets via social media and direct email. The Indians will likely ramp up marketing for next year's game.

So what’s the attendance goal for next year’s game?

“You never want to do worse than you did the year before,” Lewandowski said. “We’ll have a stretch goal to get to 10,000.”

With both programs gaining power, the Indians’ goal may not be such a stretch.

Indiana headed into the 2015 season fresh off back-to-back Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. The Hoosiers have established themselves as a contending baseball program on the national scene, including a trip to the 2013 College World Series, and have seen recent top level players such as catcher and outfielder Kyle Schwarber, infielder Micah Johnson and catcher Josh Phegley go on to find success in the pros.

Notre Dame has made the NCAA baseball tournament numerous times and qualified for the College World Series in 2002. This year—Notre Dame’s second in the powerful Athletic Coast Conference in baseball—the Irish have been ranked in the top 25 nationally.

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