I was reading this fanpost by viator, a Jags fan, and some comments reminded me of how lucky we are to be living in Indianapolis right now, and how we take for granted what our professional sports teams' success has meant to our city.
I know there are a lot of people on this blog who remember the old days. I'm not that old, but my brother and I were brought up Colts fans. I've been watching Colts football since I was a little kid. I moved here the same year the Colts did, and a few years before the Pan Am games were here. My mom describes city planners as having "all this vision of where the city was going...it was really cool." But she attributes the growth of the city almost directly to the success of its sports teams. She says "the Colts and the Pacers' success during the past decade has made us believers in the success of the city and the state. Indianapolis is absolutely a much better place to live now than when we first moved here [in 1984]."
Can you imagine where we'd be if, in 1987 Donnie Walsh had selected Steve Alford instead of Reggie Miller? With Alford, would the Pacers have gone on to make 10 playoff appearances between 93 and '05?
As for the Colts, in the early days, I remember my dad asking us after church on Sundays if we'd like to go to a Colts game. I mean, there was no need to plan ahead at all. I remember one such game against the legendary Dan Marino...this man was the football equivalent to Michael Jordan to us; he was the big ticket, and we just waltzed into the game after buying tickets at the box office 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Now, you can't even get a parking spot in the entire downtown area 30 minutes prior to the games, and if you do luck out, you're paying $25 bucks a spot. Tailgating? Had we even heard of this concept during the Trudeau, George and Harbaugh days? Now imagine what the downtown landscape, particularly on autumn Sundays, would resemble if Polian had picked Ryan Leaf instead of Manning. Would there be tailgating? Would there be Lucas Oil Stadium? Would there be the Indianapolis Colts, or would it be the L.A. Colts (or some other city's Colts...or no Colts at all)?
Think about what these teams have done for our downtown economy. If you live near downtown, or go there regularly at all, and you appreciate the cultural improvements, the nightlife and the commercial booms that tourism and population growth bring, you owe thanks to the Pacers and Colts. Do you like Circle Centre mall? The canal beautification projects? How about the renovated Murat theater? The new and improved NCAA Hall of Champions? Without people to visit our city, there'd be no reason to improve these landmarks, and who knows what our downtown would look like.
I know we've talked about this on this blog, and other blogs ad nauseam, but we need a constant reminder of what we owe to these sports teams. Yes, I know not everyone agrees. But young people who like living in a growing city with fun things to do on the weekend ought to count their lucky stars that the Pacers, and especially the Colts, have been so successful over the years. Without Manning and other great players and coaches employed by these teams, our city would be a ghost town...like Jacksonville, but smaller and without the ocean. How scary is that?