WESTFIELD, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts' arrival to Westfield’s Grand Park for summer camp marks an extremely busy time for the city.
Nearly 50,000 fans came out to see the team practice last year, and equally large crowds are expected in 2019. But despite the popularity, the question remains: Will Westfield be able to reap the benefits?
According to a city spokesperson, each year Grand Park sees roughly 2.5 million visits. The number makes Westfield a top sports tourism destination for the entire country. However, the city faces the problem of many of those visitors spending their money not in the city, but in places like Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville. Those cities have more options to eat, sleep and play than Westfield can offer.
“Certainly, from a hospitality standpoint we would really love them to stay here and spend their money,” Vicki Duncan-Gardner, the director of communications for Westfield, said.
The city has already put a plan in motion to help solve the problem. Last year the Westfield City Council passed an ordinance creating a riverfront development area that will allow the city and businesses access to more alcohol licenses, at a cheaper rate. A process that should appeal to restaurants and bars. The city is also developing the Grand Junction Plaza, a six-acre landmark that will anchor new development in the area.
“Now we have to get the businesses built, and we will,” Duncan-Gardner said.
If successful, Duncan-Gardner says Westfield will find themselves in a much better position to compete with surrounding cities in Hamilton County. She adds that the city has already seen a spate of restaurants, and hotels built, adding that their goal is to make sure they create a family-friendly environment for visitors.