The Indianapolis sports scene has certainly changed dramatically, for the better, over the last few decades. As recently as 1983, there were the Pacers in the winter, the Indians in the summer, and nobody watching either team. Today, athletics thrive in the Circle City, which has since become the headquarter town for the NCAA, the proud home of the consistently great Indianapolis Colts, and, occasionally, a hotbed of NBA basketball – when the Pacers hold up their end of the bargain. While our current bell weather sports may take place primarily in the fall and winter, don’t underestimate the Indy sports landscape in the summer. The hot months bring many opportunities for sporting enjoyment. Here are a few of the best the Indianapolis has to offer during the NFL off season.
The Indianapolis 500
While not technically held during the summer, the 500 occurs during Memorial Day weekend every year, so it belongs on this list, without at doubt. The green flag dropped on “The Greatest Spectacle” in racing on May 30, 1911, and the Speedway has been churning ever since. The West side of Indianapolis becomes the focus of the racing world during the month of May every year. Even in recent years, when squabbles among the principle players in open-wheel racing have somewhat diminished the luster of the 500, the race still draws more than 300,000 people as summer dawns. Qualification days, Carb Day, and the Speedway Infield are all synonymous with the track and add to the mystique of The 500. “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!”
The Indianapolis Indians
The Indians are Indianapolis’ Triple-A baseball team, and they remain one of the hidden gems of Midwest summers. While the Tribe has changed affiliations several times since the 1980s (Reds, Expos, Reds, Brewers, Pirates), they have always provided fans with a great family environment and exciting baseball action featuring players just a blink away from the majors. The completion of Victory Field in the 1990s bestowed upon Indy one of the more beautiful and intimate parks in all of the minor leagues.
The Indiana Fever
The Fever, Indianapolis’ entry into the WNBA, are the summer-time inhabitants of Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Pacers play during the colder months (whither the playoffs? 1994?).
The Fever has evolved over the last couple of years to become one of the most competitive in the league, and fell just short of a world championship in 2009.
The Brickyard 400
The Brickyard 400 (now the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard) was NASCAR’s big-splash entry into the home of Indy Car racing, and it really hasn’t disappointed since the inaugural race in 1994. Indeed, the Brickyard has become one of the most prestigious events in the stock-car world. Held in late July most years, it’s the perfect lead-in for late summer activities as Hoosiers prepare for County and State fairs.
As you can see, Indiana residents don’t have to go far to find great sporting events, and they don’t have to wait for the weather to turn cold, either. Check out Indy’s summer sports venues, and you’re sure to have a great time!