Sports campus gets Grand Opening

How do you celebrate the opening of the largest amateur sports complex in the nation? First, it’ll take about 1,000 feet of ribbon and some very large scissors. Add some live music, hot dogs and popcorn, of course, a ferris wheel and fireworks. And, that’s just the beginning of how Westfield will kick off the official opening of Grand Park June 20-22. There will be plenty of action on several of the 57 fields and diamonds, including baseball, softball and lacrosse tournaments.

Hamilton County Sports Authority has invited about 600 VIPs for the grand opening, June 21. It will be a chance to help Westfield show off the 400-acre multi-sports campus. In addition to VIPs, the Sports Authority has invited about 50 national governing bodies of sport to take site visits of Grand Park, and hopefully convince them to bring their tournaments to Hamilton County.

“Grand Park is an incredible asset to Hamilton County, and we’re already getting great feedback from sports organizations around the country that have interest in bringing new events here,” said William Knox, Hamilton County Sports Authority director. “It will create new opportunities for other sports sites in the county, for our hotels, restaurants and other attractions.”

While Hamilton County Sports Authority’s VIP party is invitation-only, the Grand Park grand opening celebration is open to the public and begins with a free concert and other activities from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 20 and continues through June 22. For a list of activities, visit GrandPark.org.

Pinny hits the road for tourism

Hamilton County Tourism’s newest marketing “move” comes with fun on four wheels and travels at speeds up to at least 35 mph. Meet “Pinny,“ the county’s first Mobile Tourism Vehicle (MTV). Pinny made her debut June 3 at the Fishers Concert Series, the first of more than 75 visits she’s scheduled to make this year at major events throughout Hamilton County. Included is the Grand Park opening June 20-22. In addition to drawing attention to Hamilton County Tourism, Pinny is a resource. Equipped with iPads, visitors and residents are encouraged to explore a new tourism app, to help people find other things to do nearby. For example, when Pinny is parked at the Battle of Billericay on June 12, baseball fans can check out nearby places to eat or visit between or after games.

“We created Pinny to be more than a mobile billboard for Hamilton County, she’s a roving visitor’s center,” said tourism deputy director Karen Radcliff. “Apps were created to make it easy for visitors to find hotels, restaurants, nearby attractions and other events.” Not only is the free app available on Pinny’s iPads, but Hamilton County Tourism will roll them out to visitors through other avenues, such as its website, to encourage visitors and prospective visitors to download on their devices.

The new app includes: “Stay, Eat (including restaurants and farmer’s markets), Discover (attractions and things to do), Events and More,” a gallery of photos that visitors are encouraged to share and access to Hamilton County Tourism’s social media.

“This is a tremendous tool for visitors – and even local residents – to use while they are in the area,” Radcliff said. “The app can live in their device while they are here, helping connect them to more attractions, events, shops, hotels and restaurants.”

Apps continue to gain popularity as people look for quick and easy ways to get information. Having a variety of apps allows visitors to quickly find what they are most interested in, and this is the first of several in planning.

Check out the new app, available from VisitHamiltonCounty.com, in iTunes or through Google Play.

Collaborating for Culture

First, it’s Grand Park. Next will come Grand Junction, and somewhere in between, Westfield will have a comprehensive strategic plan to help create a true identity for the city and bring together these two ambitious projects with others to create additional economic development opportunities.

Called the Westfield Cultural Collaborative, it’s led by Westfield native Peggy Monson, a strategic planner with Impact LLC, who is convening a group of about 40 community, government and business leaders.

“We are putting together a story about why Westfield,” Monson said. “We want to come up with the Westfield experience that will attract visitors, enhance the quality of life for residents and boost economic development.”

It’s a tall order, but one that’s already off to a good start, thanks to a diverse group of core collaborators. The team will consider Westfield’s history, its unique culture and resources and the valuable input of its residents. The Collaborative will host two public forums – June 12 and June 19 – to begin engaging the community. Those who can’t attend the forum are encouraged to take an online survey.

“The success of our community is dependent upon the input and collaboration of our businesses, nonprofits and residents,” Mayor Andy Cook said when the Collaborative was announced. “By working together, we can create a vibrant destination for both residents of Westfield and our visitors.”

Like the Culture Collaborative itself, the whole idea was a collaboration of various stakeholders, including the Downtown Westfield Association, Westfield Chamber of Commerce and City of Westfield and many others. The Culture Collaborative initiative is funded by a capacity grant from Hamilton County Tourism and the Legacy Fund.

“Big things are happening in Westfield, and together, we came up with an idea to really support leveraging the sports complex, which we know will attract tens of thousands of visitors and the downtown revitalization project, Grand Junction,” said Brenda Myers, Hamilton County Tourism executive director. “It’s an exciting time for Westfield, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the conversation.”

Some things in life are free

Who doesn’t like to win free stuff, like concert tickets and tenderloins? Just about everyone, and Hamilton County Tourism has found offering giveaways is a great way to introduce visitors – and local residents – to local venues.

This summer, Hamilton County Tourism will give away tickets to every concert at Klipsch Music Center, tickets to the Palladium, Conner Prairie, free hotel stays and gift cards to restaurants. To win, people simply need to follow Hamilton County Tourism on Twitter, @VisitHamiltonCo, sign up on the Hamilton County Tourism Facebook page or subscribe to the monthly email.

Hamilton County Tourism will promote the contests through a variety of avenues. Locally, there will be plenty of social media promotions, and in key markets - Champaign, Ill., Louisville and Fort Wayne – a radio campaign includes a chance for out of area visitors to win.

“The radio promotion really complements our advertising in those three markets,” said Ashley Ledford, HCT’s director of marketing and promotions. “We also wanted to promote the giveaways locally, to not only make local residents aware of all that we have to offer, but because they are great tourism ambassadors, encouraging their friends and family to visit and explore the county.”

The giveaways have been so successful in the past, Live Nation – the promoter of Klipsch Music Center – wanted to do even more this year, which is why some lucky locals and visitors will get a chance to win even more concert tickets.

Follow Hamilton County Tourism now on Facebook, Twitter and email.