Indianapolis Doubles Down on Sports

Inside INdiana Business is reporting pre-game festivities for Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium provide an opportunity to reflect on a more than 40-year-old strategy that continues to be a calling card for Indianapolis. This month’s (i) on Economic Development focuses on high-profile sporting events in the state capital. Indianapolis-based KSM Location Advisors Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and President Katie Culp discussed the risks and rewards that come with big ticket games. Though Culp cautions that some events could turn out to be “one-hit wonders,” Cook says the city’s sports strategy provides a global platform unlike any other.

Marquee games, Cook says, get people talking about Indianapolis “in some parts of the country or even parts of the world that aren’t even familiar with us, so I think that part is very valuable.” He continued by saying visitor spending downtown is significant, as are the various types of exposure the city will receive. “It really gives us an opportunity to showcase Indianapolis to businesses that we’re trying to attract here. It gives us almost an opportunity to talk to people who have come to visit — ‘what do you think about Indianapolis?’ It gives us that chance to assess why we’re strong and to make the city even more competitive,” he added.

For promoters and organizers, big sporting events can pose some risks, but the long track record of success with events including the 1987 Pan American Games to the many NCAA Final Fours and Sweet Sixteens to Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 help bolster the city’s case for hosting. “When people are making decisions about where to place these events, they want to eliminate risk — or at least minimize it — and we’ve proven that we can do this and do it without screwing up, so that speaks volumes,” Culp said. Indy’s reputation, she notes, pairs with assets like available hotel space, engaged volunteers and a willing corporate community to build an attractive option for big events.

Big Ten West Division champion University of Wisconsin will take on East Division winner Ohio State University at 8:17 p.m. Saturday.