Just before the Colts kicked off the final practice of training camp, the mayors of Westfield and Indianapolis huddled up on the field.
“What an honor to have Joe Hogsett here, Mayor of Indianapolis,” said Westfield Mayor Andy Cook. “We had a ball out here with your team. Thank you so much, Mayor, for letting us borrow your team for about three weeks.”
“To the Mayor of Westfield and to the residents of Westfield, thank you for providing us with this great facility for our preseason workouts,” said Hogsett. “Grand Park is a grand asset, for not just Westfield but the entire metropolitan Indianapolis area.”
With a Colts football in his hands, Cook continued.
“In my highly professional and political opinion, I think they’re ready to go back to the big top downtown where you can put them into your beautiful sports area and I think in the next few years, we’re going to see some huge success out of these people.”
With that, Cook turned the football over to Hogsett, ceremoniously returning the Colts to their Indianapolis home.
“I look forward, Mayor, to returning this ball to you next summer before next season’s preseason training with the addition of a Super Bowl championship,” Hogsett said.
For the Colts, year one of a 10-year partnership with Grand Park was an overwhelming success.
“It’s really been phenomenal,” said Stephanie Pemberton, Vice President of Marketing for the Colts. “Not only the new location, but the enhanced facilities that are here. We’ve got a lot more space than we’ve ever had, so we’ve been able to expand our fan footprint, if you will.”
With one year under their belt, the Colts plan to build on that success.
“Now, it’s about how do we continue to get better and continue to make the experience better for our fans because training camp is a critical time for the football team, but it’s also a very exciting time for our fans and we want to make sure we’re feeding off of that energy and excitement.”
But first, it’s back to Indianapolis and on to football season.
“We’re excited to get back to Lucas Oil Stadium in a couple days,” Pemberton said. “Obviously, that’s a special place for us as well.”
After hosting the Colts, Cook said he feels some ownership and some responsibility now that Westfield has some skin in the game.
Hogsett joked that he’d be keeping a close eye on him.
“Mayor Cook has done such a wonderful job in creating this sports complex,” he said. “If I see construction begin on an NFL-sized football stadium, maybe Mayor Cook and I will have a little bit more to talk about.”
“In full disclosure, I did ask if we could call them the Westfield Colts while they were here,” said Cook. “But I was declined.”
“We’re going to have two homes here in Indianapolis,” said Pemberton. “We’re going to have Lucas Oil Stadium for game days and Grand Park for training camp.”
It was a new start in a new place with new traditions.
For the Colts, the season began at Grand Park.
And they’re hoping it ends somewhere just as grand.