Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL fans who enjoy watching live practices and interacting with players took a hit when the league instructed all 32 teams to conduct training camps at their own facilities.
As a result, the Indianapolis Colts will conduct their training camp — which begins July 28 — at their headquarters at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center at 7001 W. 56th St. in Indianapolis instead of at Grand Park in Westfield, as was originally planned.
The team held its training camp at its headquarters in 2017 before entering a 10-year contract in 2018 to conduct camp at Grand Park.
“The decision was made by the NFL, so we are not alone. They obviously made the decision based on the COVID health emergency and social distancing and whatnot, but that was made at the league level a couple weeks ago and applies to all 32 teams,” said Steve Campbell, vice president of communications for the Colts. “I think all of us would prefer to be at Grand Park, quite frankly, because the people in Westfield, Mayor Cook and William Knox and all the folks up there, they are among the best in the country at doing what they do.
“They have one of the best facilities in the entire nation for sports and athletics, so we would much prefer to be at Grand Park with the fans and with the good people of Westfield.”
Campbell said interacting with fans at Grand Park is what the team and staff will miss the most.
“Westfield provides a top-notch, professional, world-class staff who know what they’re doing, so we will certainly miss that partnership with the staff and with the people who run Westfield, but more than anything, we will miss the fan interaction,” Campbell said. “Training camp is generally a time for fans to come for free and watch practice and take part in Colts City and other Colts events and promotions and things like that.
“We are still making plans for how training camp will look at our facility, but we will miss the fan interaction so much.”
This would’ve been the third year the Colts would have conducted camp at the Westfield facility. But Grand Park Director William Knox said the city won’t suffer much of a financial impact.
“Because we were able to pull the trigger early on, we have not incurred any expenses related to training camp that we would normally incur,” Knox said. “We are still working through the minutiae of the agreements we had (with the Colts). This is mandated by the NFL, and unfortunately, the Colts did not have a choice in the matter.
“They are required to have practice at their home facilities. They were very excited and we were training up until the day before they got the information.”
Normally, the city receives revenue from concessions and parking. It won’t see that revenue this year, but Knox said the loss is balanced out by not having operating expenses.
“It’s not as much financial implications as it’s more Colts fans and the community probably loses out the most because it’s such a good event and we do it really well,” Knox said.
The Colts plan to return to Grand Park for training camp in 2021.
An investment in Grand Park
Despite not conducting its training camp at Grand Park this year, the Colts are investing in the Westfield sports campus.
The Colts have invested nearly $800,000 for an asphalt pad behind their two practice fields for Colts City and Play 60 programming. The city will be able to utilize the asphalt pad the rest of the year when it’s complete.