Sports heat up the summer
Athletes young and old were all over Hamilton County this summer. Some come to swing bats, other club. They were here to kick and shoot, swim and run. Regardless of the sport of choice, thousands of athletes from all over the country were in Hamilton County. Here is a quick recap of some of the largest events:

Baseball and softball
More than 263 teams completed in the National Softball Association “B” North World Series in late July. The event included opening ceremonies, a parade of teams and a lot of softball games. Teams played at Olio Fields in Fishers, Grand Park and Noblesville Softball Fields.

Perfect Game USA hosted the Super 25 Midwest National Championships Qualifier for 13-and-under and 17-and-under age groups. The tournament at Grand Park qualified teams for the regional and super-regional tournaments.

Baseball players from all over the county competed in the four-day Midwest Grand Championship in July. It was one of the largest events this summer at the Westfield sports complex.

At the collegiate level, eight teams competed in the 36th annual Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Championship at Grand Park, where the No. 7 seed Drury University (Springfield, Missouri) beat the No. 1 seed Quincy University (Quincy, Illinois) to take the title.

Best Choice Fieldhouse in Fishers hosted the Adidas Hoosier Shootout hosted by the Indiana Elite. The tournament brought together the best 13-and-under and 17-and-under teams in the country for the three-day tournament.

The NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Regional was at Sagamore Golf Club. The University of Illinois won the tournament, which included 14 of the top college golfers from the region. Prairie View Golf Club hosted the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals. Westfield High School won the prestigious championship.

The World’s Largest Golf Outing in support of Wounded Warrior Project came to Purgatory Golf Course in Noblesville in August. It was one of dozens of courses across the country that participated in the third-annual event that brings together golfers to raise money for Wounded Warriors. 

Runners hit some of the best trails in central Indiana during the Prairie Trails Half Marathon at Strawtown Koteewi “Prairie” Park in northern Hamilton County for a half marathon, 10K, 3.5K, Youth Race and Family Walk.

The US Club Soccer National Premier League Finals were at Grand Park in July for Under-13 through Under-18 boys and girls teams throughout the country.

For 32 years, athletes have headed to Cicero’s Red Bridge Park for the Cicero Triathlon where they swim 500 meters, bike 10 miles and run five miles. For the second year, the Triathlon has become a two-day event with a full sprint distance race and a Strawberry Sprint 5K and the K3 Cicero Youth Triathlon. Proceeds from the weekend benefit the Hamilton North Chamber of Commerce.

Across the lake at South Harbor Clubhouse, The Friends of Central Pool hosted the US Masters Swimming 15K Open Water National Championships over Father’s Day Weekend. The event included a 15K swim, a non-championship 5K event and a 3-person relay.

Grand Park Fieldhouse booked before doors even open
The Jonathan Byrd Fieldhouse at Grand Park doesn’t open until January, but already, the eight courts are booked for 2016. The biggest fear now isn’t finding teams who want to play there, but making sure the courts aren’t overbooked, said Rod Sinn, president of operations for the newest addition to the Westfield sports complex.

Sinn has been working overtime to schedule league tournaments and camps at the fieldhouse. And, while the fieldhouse is still under construction – ground breaking was in July – it’s not been a difficult sell. Tournament organizers have heard about Grand Park, and they know Indiana and basketball go hand-in-hand. There’s a mystique about it, Sinn said.

With the recent accreditation of USA Basketball, former NBA star Bonzi Wells heading up basketball operations and John Lucas Camps committing to the Fieldhouse, players and coaches are clamoring to be among the first to play at the newest Grand Park facility.

The fieldhouse has booked tournaments sponsored by Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. Children as young as second grade up to 12th grade, both girls and boys, locally and around the country will play on the courts.

There will be plenty of comforts for players and fans. There are wi-fi hotspots and USB ports throughout the 88,000-square-foot facility so coaches, players and fans can juice up their devices. Seat cushions are available for rental. And, there will be three high-definition cameras on each court, where players can get a highlight video.

“We worked with a Division I coach on what angles they want to see,” Sinn said. “We’re trying to take the extra steps.”

Sure, there will be typical basketball fare – hot dogs, popcorn and nachos – but Jonathan Byrd also will have a 3,600-square-foot restaurant in a building attached to the fieldhouse, which will serve a variety of healthier options, such as a smoothie bar and a sandwich and wrap station.

“We want this to be the best experience they’ve ever had,” Sinn said. “We want to give these children a chance to fulfill a dream.”

Construction begins on multi-purpose arena
Ground breaking began this summer on the 370,000-square-foot indoor field facility at Grand Park, which is slated to open in July 2016. The $20 million building features three full-size synthetic fields for soccer or lacrosse, but it’s much more than a sports facility. The space can be used for conventions, events and even concerts, said Ken Alexander, director of Grand Park. The goal is to make it a year-round facility.

Jonathan Byrd will have a restaurant and bar inside the facility, as well, offering a different menu than typical sports concession fare.

Local soccer players will benefit, as the Indiana Fire (the merged club of Carmel United Soccer Club and Westfield Youth Soccer), will make Grand Park its home field.  

Save the day for the Sports Summit
Save the Date for our annual sports summit Nov. 18 at 502 East Event Centre in Carmel. Watch your inboxes for more information.