By Mark Ambrogi
Although William Knox only recently began as Grand Park director Oct. 31, he has watched its growth from the start.
In his previous position of director of sports development for Hamilton County Tourism, Knox was involved in the development of Grand Park from its inception.
“We are continuing to grow,” Knox said. “We’re looking for 2017 to be a really benchmark year. We’re looking at this year to guide us to understand all the various uses of the park now that we have all our assets.”
Knox reported on the state of Grand Park at Westfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon Jan. 19 at The Bridgewater Club.
“The 400 acres houses 31 multipurpose fields and 26 diamonds,” Knox said. “There is over 4,500 parking spaces, which is hard to believe, but on many occasions that isn’t enough. We often run out of parking.”
The Grand Park Events Center, which opened last summer, is 370,000 square feet of space that is available for all types of uses.
“We’ve seen a bump in our traffic as a result of having that space,” Knox said. “I think we’ll see more in our winter months as a result of having that facility.”
Knox said visitors might come to Grand Park for a tournament, but they also are taking some vacation time around it.
“We want to make sure we can accommodate all those people,” Knox said. “We rely on our city partners to provide some of that entertainment.”
The proximity to Indianapolis is a bonus in that regard.
With the increased tourism, Knox said the top strategic goal for Grand Park is safety.
“We know we are taking young children to a campus and they are exposed to a lot of risk, whether it’s on the field or off the field,” Knox said. “We’re putting a lot of things in place that will protect the kids on the field. It’s amazing how much I’m learning about grass and synthetic turf.”
Knox said all the concession stands have Automated External Defibrillators.
“All of our staff is CPR and first aid certified, and all of our partners on campus are certified,” Knox said.
Other goals are visitor experience, innovation of use and maximizing stakeholder value.
Knox said the multi-purpose fields will be used for archery this summer.
“It’s up to us to find other uses that don’t damage our synthetic or natural grass surfaces,” Knox said.
For more, visit grandpark.org.
Grand Park hotel ‘The Haven’ put on hold
William Knox is keeping Grand Park’s opportunities open.
The Grand Park director announced at the Westfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon Jan. 19 that The Haven, a hotel proposed to be built on 191st Street adjacent to the events center, has been put on hold.
With the Hampton Inn just off Ind. 32 nearing completion and the Cambria Suites hotel on 186th Street breaking ground last year, Knox said The Haven will hold off until it is decided if it is really needed.
“I think what we’ve done in that time period is create opportunities for many other hotel properties to look at this area as a viable business model,” Knox said. “It benefits Grand Park to have (commercial) properties close to the campus and in some instances on the campus. We are going through and reevaluating the whole process as a result of several hotel properties coming out the ground.”
In addition to the two hotels currently undergoing construction, Knox said there are “three or four others speculated to start in the next year or so.”
“We are going to reevaluate once those new properties come online to determine if (a hotel) is the best use of that space for us,” Knox said. “There have been other proposals for use at that site if it’s not a hotel, so I think we will have many options to evaluate if we do determine not to move forward with the hotel property. The more we know about the hotel inventory in the area will help determine how we move forward with that project.”