9/6/2017 1:42:00 PM Colts announce decade-long partnership with Grand Park
Times photo by Alex Pollock
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard, speaking, was joined by Andy Cook, Mayor of Westfield (far left) and Todd Burtron, Westfield Mayor Chief of Staff, as he announced the 10 year partnership between the Indianapolis Colts and Grand Park Wednesday morning.
WESTFIELD - Only two Colts preseason practices were open to the public this year. This season was the first training camp that didn't see spectators filing into Anderson University to watch the team practice since 2010.
The little fan interaction allowed this year was one factor that went into the Colt's new 10 year partnership with Grand Park and the city of Westfield.
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard was joined by Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and his Chief of Staff Todd Burtron, as well as Carly Irsay, the daughter of Colts owner Jim Irsay, to announce the decade long partnership between the two entities.
"When Grand Park opened three years ago it was meant to be the gem of youth sports," said Cook. "To have an NFL team committed to Grand Park for a decade proves that our facility is not only a premier venue for youth sports, but also for professional athletes."
The Colts had training camp at Anderson University from 1984 through 1998, then moved to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute from 1999 through 2009. The team returned to Anderson University in 2010 and practiced there until 2016 after the city of Anderson gave AU $120,000 to renovate its facilities.
This season the Colts stayed home and held preseason workouts at the Farm Bureau Football Center. All practices at that facility were closed to the public. Two practices, one at Warren Central High School and the other at Lucas Oil Stadium, were the only practices fans were allowed to attend.
In July, shortly after his hire, Ballard said he wanted to have training camp open to fans, but didn't have the time to find a new contract this summer.
The partnership between Grand Park and the Colts developed with the help of Westfield's Redevelopment Commission and Authority, Grand Park's director William Knox, the Westfield City Council, the Mayor's office, and the Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward.
"I want people to know how important it is that we connect with our fans," said Ballard. "It had to be a world-class facility where we could prepare to win a Super Bowl. I want our fans to be able to touch our players and see it in a way other fans can't in other cities. That's what made Grand Park so attractive. We're blessed to be here."
Ballard also praised Grand Park's geographic location, the potential the facility offers for fan interaction, and the attitude of the local community.
Burtron mentioned the economic impact the Colts will bring to the city is still largely unknown, as the team has never held its camp at a facility like Grand Park, however, with the team and its personnel agreeing to stay at local hotels during camp, the hospitality business is expecting a strong economic impact.
"The economic impact of the Colts training camp and fan experience will be positive regionally," said Brenda Myers of Hamilton County Tourism. "We have looked at hotel room demand history during this period. It is up and down, with some targeted opportunities to grow sales."
Training camp at Grand Park will begin in 2018 and will bring Play 60 events, 72,000 square feet of Colts City, and "an enhanced fan experience."