Using Sports for Urban Planning? How Indianapolis, Indiana Became the ‘Amateur Sports Capital of the World’
Indianapolis, Indiana is home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association headquarters, the National Federal of State High School Associations and several NCAA athletic conferences. This hub of amateur sports associations may seem coincidental, but in fact, it was carefully planned. It is said that Indianapolis is branded as the “Amateur Sports Capital of the World.”
In the 70s and 80s, Indianapolis began updating and building sporting arenas in order to make the city more desirable for large sporting events. In 1987, the city hosted the Pan American games, where athletes from thirty-eight countries competed. It is argued that hosting the Pan American games was the turning point for Indianapolis. Since then, Indianapolis has hosted men’s college final four games, Big 10 events and even the Super Bowl.
In 1999, the NCAA narrowed the search for its national headquarters down to Kansas City, Oklahoma and Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis was declared the winner, since it is a more central location and over two thirds of NCAA members are east of the Mississippi River.
The NCAA Hall of Champions, a museum dedicated to the greatest moments in NCAA history, is just across the way from the national headquarters. The museum is situated along the Indianapolis Canal Walk with several other museums.
The NFHS serves all fifty states and the District of Columbia as a guide for rules and regulations for sports for young men and women. They focus on providing youth with interscholastic sports opportunities to improve success in everyday life and looking towards the future.
Indianapolis realized its potential early on, and utilized urban planning and economic development practices to create a mecca for amateur sports by improving facilities, which then increased their chances at hosting big events and becoming the headquarters of many sports related associations.
Does your community use sports to its advantage? How does your city incorporate sports teams into a way of branding downtown or neighborhoods?
Credits: Images by Laura Granieri. Data linked to sources.