Mayor Andy Cook, Grand Park Sports Campus officials along with local and state hospitality industry leaders have released glowing reviews from the Grand Park Sports Campus’ summer reactivation amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. In looking at data from mid-May through Labor Day, with more than 613-thousand visits to campus, no COVID-19 outbreaks were detected because of campus activity. Athletes participated in tournaments and leagues hosted by Bullpen Tournaments (diamond sports), the privately-owned Pacers Athletic Center (basketball) and the Grand Park Sports Campus team (field sports).
“We looked at the situation and instead of closing up and waiting until next year, our team worked with the Governor’s Office, national leaders in youth sports, local health officials, event organizers, families and athletes to figure out how to get kids active as safely as possible,” said Mayor Andy Cook. “I am happy to report that, of the young athletes competing at Grand Park, to our knowledge, there were no spikes in cases due to campus activity. We worked hard to convince the community we would not be injecting COVID-19 into our city and convince visitors they could have a safe visit.”
Grand Park closed March 16 which lead to the cancellation of more than 255 activities. The campus reactivated with a phased approach beginning May 24. Campus leadership worked closely with state and local leaders to develop guidelines to allow for young athletes to return to play. Those guidelines were updated in conjunction with the State of Indiana’s reopening plans and guidance from the Hamilton County Health Department and other national youth sports organizations.
“Safety was, and is, our priority at Grand Park,” said William Knox, Grand Park Director. “The data we collected from the summer shows that our protocols worked and that families were willing to travel and participate if it meant allowing their kids to safely play their sports. When we were developing and researching the Grand Park concept, we were told that youth sports was one of the first industries to rebound in a downturn. The information we are seeing proves that point. In fact, facility demand at the campus was at record levels this July with revenues up by 543% over that of last summer.”
"Grand Park is an internationally recognized leader in youth sports. They led the way for youth sports to operate safely during this time. In doing so, they also led the way for thousands of employees in the hospitality industry to return to work for the first time in months,” remarked Patrick Tamm, President and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Hotels welcomed teams week after week with safe and enhanced protocols. Restaurants enjoyed safely serving thousands of guests brought to Indiana solely due to Grand Park. Grand Park and youth travel sports have been more than a lifeline during these challenging times for the hospitality industry. Without Grand Park thousands would be out of work today and many more hospitality businesses would have closed."
According to Hamilton County Tourism, Grand Park activity was a critical drive of visitor spend in the county. Although July hotel room demand in Hamilton County declined 18.8% overall, due primarily to a loss of business travel during the pandemic, county hotel room demand actually increased for three July weekends compared to the previous year:
• July 10-11 – 19.5% room demand increase
• July 17-18 – 17.2% room demand increase
• July 24-25 – 11.9% room demand increase
“There is no doubt Grand Park’s ability to safely welcome tournaments was a much-needed salve to an otherwise challenging year for Hamilton County’s tourism economy,” said Brenda Myers, President/CEO, Hamilton County Tourism. “While the market is gradually showing signs of recovery, we now have amazing evidence of just how resilient the competitive youth sports industry can be.”
Grand Park continues to monitor the COVID-19 guidelines and is actively engaged with local health officials to ensure a safe environment. For more information, go to www.GrandPark.org
About Westfield and Grand Park: Westfield is located just north of Indianapolis, Indiana. It is home to almost 40,000 people and the Grand Park Sports Campus. Grand Park is a 400+ acre sports complex, with 31 outdoor fields, 26 baseball diamonds, a privately-owned basketball facility and a 370,000 sq. ft. events center. The campus boasts more than 2.5 million visits a year and has spurred more than $1 billion of economic development in Westfield since its inception. Westfield is located within one day’s drive of more than half of the United States population and within 40 minutes of the award-winning Indianapolis International Airport.