ANDERSON, Ind. — Campus is beautiful. City needs some work.
That was the unfortunate refrain of many fans visiting Anderson University Tuesday for Indianapolis Colts afternoon practice. While most of them took the day off from work to make a day trip with their children to see the team, many had no plans to stay in town after practice was over. In and out.
"You drive through town, and it's really run down. A lot of buildings are boarded up. It's pretty concerning," said Peter Rice of Indianapolis.
It was the first attended practice this year for Rice, a student at Purdue University who made one final summer road trip with close family friends the Koziols. Rice said the campus was quite impressive, and he recognizes that the city has made strides to improve its image, especially with a professional franchise as short-term tenants. Still, outside trips to see the Colts at training camp and occasional visits to friends who attend AU, Rice has little reason to spend money here.
"We didn't take any of the main roads to come here, and you can see in a lot of areas where the city is struggling," Rice said. "I just have no motivation to stay [after practice.]"
While Anderson's economic and general ills aren't news, the city fought to bring back the Colts for the economic boon it would presumably create for the surrounding communities. Rice and the Koziols said they're sure having the team in town for training camp was good for the economy, though they had no intention of contributing.
With a feverish excitement surrounding the team and a mild summer yielding beautiful weather, the Colts have reaped one of their most successful campaigns strictly by attendance, with droves of fans coming out to quench their thirst for America's new pastime. Roughly 1,000 came to see practice Tuesday. But is it really benefiting the city?