Indianapolis aims to be world sports hub

Indianapolis officials hope to attract world sports to the city.

Indianapolis has long been known as the Crossroads of America, but there's a grander vision from city officials in the form of a new sports park.

When you think Indianapolis, what usually comes to mind is the Indy 500, the Colts and the Pacers. More recently, there's the city's success in hosting the Super Bowl.

Now comes an idea to elevate the city's stature through a sport that dates back to the 16th century - the game of cricket.

"Cricket is one of the absolutely biggest sporting events in the world," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

"What Mayor Ballard's vision is, what he would like to see is, he wants this to be the 'Crossroads of the World'," said David Ladd.

Ladd has the title of ambassador for the Indianapolis World Sports Park. He gave Eyewitness News a tour of the complex, which not only has a regulation-size cricket field, but playing surfaces that will serve as a home for multiple world sports. It will also host those international championships, whether it be rugby, lacrosse, cricket, hurling, field hockey or any number of sports.

Cricket competition has already taken hold in Indianapolis.

"I have played cricket all my life, I would say since I was 10 years," said Parag Pandya, president of the Indy Legends Cricket Club.

Pandya moved to Indianapolis from Bombay, India, in 2001. He earned his MBA at Indiana University and now works for Rolls Royce. He says the competition last weekend at Chuck Klein Park is the biggest in the state.

At a tournament on the west side, there were a total of 20 teams, almost all of them are from Indiana, plus two teams from Louisville, Kentucky and one from Columbus, Ohio. At the top international level of the game, they are what's called a test match, which last five days. The games around Indianapolis last about an hour.

"The first reaction we get is, 'this game is too long'," Pandya said. "But the way we explain it to them, it's exactly like baseball. So the end vision is to promote this game and take it to the next level."

And that's the part that appeals to Mayor Ballard.

"There's a lot of sports out there international sports that we don't play too much in America, but that if you position the city well for these types of sports, you will draw talent into the city," the mayor said. "The highly-talented people, the IT folks, engineering folks, all of that, if we can have them look at Indianapolis as a place to live and thrive and grow their companies or whatever it might be, we're all gonna derive benefit out of that."

Pandya says he can't help but be excited about the possibilities.

"It definitely makes me feel proud, like I said, people need to take it like baseball, or softball, and if they can get interested in it, I'm pretty sure this can be taken to the next level," Pandya said.