Sports make a city go. That was the philosophy Indianapolis city leaders adopted in the late 1960s, when they decided sports would define this community.
That was a moment of pure prescience. The specific goal was to host a Summer Olympics. That dream will likely never come to fruition, but the focus of sports built Market Square Arena, the Hoosier Dome, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Lucas Oil Stadium.
It allowed the Pacers to join the NBA, and brought the Colts from Baltimore. The NCAA came to Indy from Kansas City, and with it came a Final Four every five years. The Super Bowl came in 2012, and the NBA All-Star Weekend is coming in 2021.
Restaurants and hotels opened, and a downtown once derisively called “Nap-town” became vibrant and fun.
Just as important is the branding that comes with major league sports teams. What universities have discovered is that when football and basketball teams succeed, application rates explode. Indianapolis has seen intense growth in large part because of the sports culture of the city.
Now, the Pacers want some additional subsidies in an agreement with the city and state that will keep the team in Indianapolis for another 25 years.
Give it to them.
I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of guesses about specific economic impact of sporting events and franchises. Instead, I invite you to drive to Louisville – a city without a professional team, and St. Louis – a city that turned cheap and lost the NFL Rams.
In which of those three cities would you prefer to live? Fortunately for you, I have already lived in all three, and can save you the trouble of experiencing all of them. You would choose Indianapolis. Hands down.
The Indy Eleven, an entry in the United Soccer League, is asking for public funding of a 150-million, 22,000 seat stadium. We should say yes to that too.
Cities that say yes win. Cities that turn cheap and decide tax dollars should be spent elsewhere lose. It’s that simple. The tipping point for soccer’s popularity in America has finally come. Indy can embrace the bright future of soccer, or deny it.
This city has always said yes, and that’s why it has flourished. Saying yes rather than listen to doubters is the primary reason Indy is Indy. We say yes, not because it always works out, but because when it does work out – it REALLY works out.
Say yes to the Indy Eleven and the Pacers. Understand that today’s yes leads to better, happier, and more lucrative tomorrows.
it’s that simple, and we are enjoying the fruits of a half-century of knowing it.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.