WESTFIELD, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts will hold training camp in Westfield for years to come.
Mayor Andy Cook announced Wednesday morning that the Colts agreed to a 10-year deal to hold training camp at the city's Grand Park Sports Campus.
The team held camp this past summer at its Indianapolis team complex and held only two practices that were open to the public. In previous seasons, the Colts went to Anderson and Terre Haute for camp.
Cook said the deal with the Colts "absolutely supports" the city's vision for Grand Park, even though he admitted it wasn't something city officials originally expected.
"We are absolutely thrilled with it," Cook said during a news conference Wednesday.
"Grand Park was designed for the American family. And I say America because we have visitors here from across the country and from across the world," Cook said. "It's about having fun. It's about learning the virtues of life."
Cook said training camp will give families from across the state the chance to get up close to the team and get to know Colts players.
"Ten years together is going to be a great experience for us and for the fans," said Colts general manager Chris Ballard. "Thank you for allowing us to be here, to be a partner with you for the next 10 years."
Ballard lamented that the Colts held camp at the team's complex in 2017, limiting the ability of fans to interact with players.
"That's not something that any of us wanted to do," Ballard said of holding camp in Indianapolis. "I want you to understand how important it is that we connect with our fans in the state of Indiana. I think it's critical for our fans to be able to touch our players."
Ballard said he wanted a world-class facility where the team could get ready for the season and seek a Super Bowl championship. Grand Park fit that vision.
"I want our fans to be able to see it. I want them to be able to see and touch our players in a way that other fans can't in other cities," Ballard said.
"It's a world-classed facility. We're very blessed to be here," Ballard said, noting that Grand Park offers indoors and outdoor practice facilities that would allow fans to watch camp even in the case of inclement weather. "It's a unique facility and it's one of the best I've seen in this country."
Carlie Irsay-Gordon, vice chair and owner, said training camp would be free and open to the public.
"I'm really excited to be able to say that we're going to be able to have training camp open to the public again," she said. "And to have it be free to come and attend, it's something that's important to us."