Grand plans for more sports

Grand Park in Westfield has exceeded expectations and already is expanding. Plus, on the opposite side of the county, developers in Fishers have proposed a $76 million sports complex near Saxony Village that would include 12 basketball/volleyball courts, two full-size soccer fields and a baseball training center.

Sports organizers and community leaders learned details about both projects during a sports networking event this summer hosted by the Hamilton County Sports Authority.

Val Belmonte and Barry Kiesel, developers of the proposed Fishers Sports Pavilion, shared their plans for the 4,200-square-foot arena and 245,000-square-foot fieldhouse that would become a multipurpose sports and entertainment facility. Belmonte is principal of Game 7 LLC, which would manage the arena, and Kiesel is a partner at GK Sports and Entertainment, which will own the facility and manage the fieldhouse. The project is awaiting approval from the Fishers City Council.

Former NBA star Bonzi Wells will be director of basketball operations of the new 88,000-square-foot facility at Grand Park, which broke ground earlier this month. The $8.5 million project, to be called Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse, includes eight indoor basketball and volleyball courts. It’s scheduled to open in January, but already tournaments have been scheduled through next year.

Also coming to Grand Park, is a 370,000-square-foot indoor soccer facility developed by Holladay Properties, which is expected to be completed in summer 2016. It will include three full-sized soccer fields to supplement the outdoor soccer fields. Tournaments at the fields are expected to result in more than 7,000 hotel room stays a year.

“This is an exciting time for amateur sports in Hamilton County, as we offer teams world-class facilities and amenities,” said William Knox, Hamilton County Sports Authority director. “Already the interest in these new facilities has been tremendous, and that will benefit every sports facility throughout the county, as we attract new events.”


Pedal Hamilton County

Two bike events this fall will bring more attention to bike trails and rides throughout Hamilton County. The Rollfast Gran Fondo on Sept. 13, brings an Italian-style bike event for both the amateur and long-distance riders, while Tour de Carmel on Sept. 19 encourages families to ride together.

A  Gran Fondo is a long-distance road cycling event in which a large number of cyclists ride a marked route. The Rollfast is the only Gran Fondo in Indiana, and is in just its second year in Carmel. It’s a timed event, but it’s meant to be relaxed, social and fun, as bikers ride either 25 miles, 65 miles or 100 miles, beginning at Carmel City Center. While biking is the main event, the Gran Fondo also features a family friendly festival and after-event race party with live music, food and drinks. There will be appearances the night before the race by celebrity chef Matthew Accarrino and professional cyclist and author Bob “Bobke” Roll.

Tour de Carmel is a family friendly event that takes riders of all levels through some of the city’s best parks and neighborhoods. There will be food, entertainment and celebration at each rest stop, with a grand finale party. The ride begins and ends at the Monon Community Center & Waterpark at Central Park.


Sports junkie joins Sports Authority

Rachel Warford brings her passion for sports to the Hamilton County Sports Authority where she begins July 27 as the sports assistant. She has assisted with NCAA basketball tournaments, a Big 10 Football Championship and helped plan FAM trips. She also has volunteered at numerous sporting events from swimming and diving to gymnastics.

She most recently was the external operations intern for Butler University Athletics and before that worked for Indiana Sports Corporation. Warford received a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Sport Business from the University of Iowa. During her collegiate career, she worked with the Iowa Cubs (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs), was a game-day intern for the soccer team, the Des Moines Menace, and was a summer intern for Perfect Game USA, the world’s largest baseball scouting organization.

“We’re thrilled for Rachel to join our team,” Knox said. “She not only has great experience, but a passion for sports.”

Warford will provide administrative support, help with events, communications and assist with Hamilton County Tourism activities.