The chief executive officer of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis says the $35 million Sports Legends Experience is coming together and will "get our arms around fitness" in an unprecedented way. Jeff Patchen says partnerships with major local sports teams, which he calls "content experts," are helping shape the 7.5-acre outdoor/indoor exhibit that is expected to be complete in March. The Children’s Museum is coming off record attendance in 2016 for a year without a major exhibit and near-record turnout in 2015.
During an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Patchen said the new attraction could drive hundreds of thousands of additional visitors. "We’re about 1.3 million visitors a year now. We expect that to go up to 1.5 (million) or 1.7 (million)," he said. "And an $80 million economic impact just on the current construction alone." The museum announced a study conducted by the University of Michigan suggested the Sports Legends Experience could create a $130 million overall economic impact over five years. In an interview during last September’s groundbreaking for the project, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett agreed with the potential boost the Experience could deliver, particularly for the surrounding area.
With about a year left on construction, Patchen also discussed the relocation of the National Art Museum of Sport to The Children’s Museum, which previously spent almost 20 years located on the IUPUI campus. The NAMOS board announced the search for a new site to display its hundreds of works of art in 2013. Patchen says bringing it onto Children’s Museum property turned out to be a "wonderful, last minute opportunity."
The Sports Legends Experience represents the largest investment at the attraction since it opened some 40 years ago. An unveiling of 12 featured sports legends, all with ties to Indiana, at the property is set for September 12.
Editor’s note: a previous version of the story misidentified the anticipated opening month.