An Indiana sports insider says, 30 years after the Pan American Games in Indianapolis, its legacy continues with the city’s ongoing sports success. Inside INdiana Business Sports Contributor Bill Benner says the 1987 Pan American Games, which brought thousands of athletes and fans to Indianapolis, created a "can do atmosphere" in the city’s sports scene that has led to several success stories in the following decades. Benner says the Pan Am Games showed the world Indianapolis was serious about becoming a sports leader.
Benner credits many Indianapolis leaders with bringing the games to the city, including former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, who chaired the organizing committee and was the Indiana Sports Corp.’s first president and chief executive officer. He also credits Sandy Knapp, who was the Sports Corp.’s CEO at the time and Mark Miles, who helped organize the games as well. He says Indy sports successes including the 2012 Super Bowl and multiple NCAA Final Four championships owe a debt of gratitude to the Pan Am organizers.
The games were originally supposed to be in Chile, but were moved because of political and financial issues in the South American nation. Benner says, while the city had previously hosted a multi-sport event called the Olympic Sports Festival in 1982, the Pan An Games were on an "entirely different level" in welcoming international athletes and fans. He says the city embraced the games, selling out events including basketball, boxing, baseball and volleyball. "It was truly an extraordinary coming together for the people of central Indiana," says Benner.
Benner was a sports writer with The Indianapolis Star at the time.
Benner says the successful games of 1987 were the result of years of work.