Indianapolis’ unprecedented task of hosting the entire NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament provides the opportunity to reflect on the interconnected relationship between the IUPUI campus and the City of Indianapolis in their pursuit of an economy advanced by sports and tourism.
Decades ago Indianapolis community leaders came together to develop a strategy for the future growth of the city. They identified an opportunity to spur economic growth by attracting major sporting events and conventions which led to the claim of being the ‘amateur sports capital of the world.’ The formation of the Indiana Sports Corporation supported the city’s efforts to host the National Sports Festival in 1982. In order to host the event, the city needed more facilities which resulted in the IU Natatorium and Michael A. Carroll Track and Field Stadium being built on the IUPUI campus with the support of the Lilly Endowment. These facilities have since hosted hundreds of state, regional, national and international events along with providing programming to the IUPUI and surrounding communities.
In 2003, the then School of Physical Education at IUPUI became the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management (now part of the School of Health and Human Sciences) to place a bigger emphasis on the growing tourism programs. Today’s department of Tourism, Event and Sport Management is a key partner in the city’s sports and tourism economy. Students have myriad opportunities for community-based learning such as conducting strategic planning for community organizations, managing social media for events, and assisting at sporting events and conventions.
Our talented faculty have been called upon for their knowledge and expertise when big events come to town. In 2012, when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl, faculty member Amanda Cecil created the “Super Service” program to train thousands of volunteers to provide a truly welcoming experience.
In 2016, IUPUI launched the Sports Innovation Institute (SII) to leverage the power of students and faculty from seven different schools across the university to attack today’s sports-industry problems with innovative solutions. SII has partnered with the NCAA, NBA, youth sports organizations and more.
All of this has led to research and learning opportunities for students, faculty and staff during the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Three sports management majors are interning for the Indiana Sports Corporation while they are preparing to host the NCAA. Seven student journalists will cover the entire March Madness as part of the IUPUI Capital Sports Journalism Program. A recent sports management graduate is a promotions and marketing coordinator at the Indiana Sports Corporation. The IUPUI Office of Sustainability was also a partner in making all of the venue operations and practices during the tournament carbon neutral.
Indianapolis has a history of pulling together public and private entities to achieve big things. IUPUI has been a proud partner in these efforts and together we have developed tremendous opportunities for our campus and community.