The field of “Sports” has had a significant influence on Indianapolis, Indiana, during the eighty-plus years that I have lived in the Capital City. From the outset, over one hundred years ago, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the famous “500 Mile Race” to the present day NFL Indianapolis Colts, NBA Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Indians Baseball Team and The Fuel Hockey Team, all have contributed to the luster and glory that sports have brought to the “Circle City.” Once again, “sports” are making a major contribution to the future success of a major entity in Indiana’s Capital.
It was a personal pleasure this past Spring to have a preview visit to “The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at The Children’s Museum.” If the title doesn’t take your breath away, the “experience” will.
The 7.5 acre, $38.5 million project is by far the most exciting and worthwhile addition to the local sports scene in decades. It encompasses both opportunities for sports participation and fitness while encouraging learning, fun and entertainment through sports memorabilia and challenges for all ages. The emphasis is on family participation.
The challenge is where to begin enjoying the various “Sports Legends Experiences.” There is so much to see and do that it is difficult to determine a starting point. I was initially shown some of the displays in the “Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions.” Various sports “Legends” who have inspiring stories with strong Indiana connections are featured. The names are familiar to all who have ever resided within the boundaries of the Hoosier State: Oscar Robertson; Larry Bird; Tamika Catchings; DaMarcus Beasely and A.J. Foyt, to name just a few. Add to those illustrious individuals Wayne Gretzky; Bobby “Slick: Leonard; Reggie Miller; Wilma Rudolph; Reggie Wayne and Barbara Wynne. Hopefully, you are beginning to understand my challenge in trying to cover all there is to know about the many “legends” presented.
Moving along as quickly as my legs and mind would allow, displays covering the accomplishments of the before mentioned legends as well as the various collegiate and pro athletes and teams that have performed so admirably within our State were presented. Best of all, there was the opportunity to practice my sports technique, such as it is, against the legends while shooting hoops against a time clock; agility and balance through rowing; blocking and kicking football and soccer goals and even becoming a broadcaster announcing my personal great moments in sports.
All that was covered before I had the opportunity to see the greatest challenges of them all – outside The World’s Largest Children’s Museum. That’s right…as the saying goes, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!” Within easy walking or running distance, depending upon your agility, are a dozen experiences on paths made of soft, spongy material to prevent injury should you stumble or fall. You can test your various mental and physical skills against time clocks, hoops and goals. Your personal “bests” will come together to create your own legendary family moments.
Try a hand at shooting baskets geared toward various age and size requirements; kick field goals and participate in soccer games; play golf on special links designed by Pete and Alice Dye; race along on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pedal Car Racetrack; Church Brothers Collision Repair Drag Strip or the Barbara Wynne Tennis Challenge. Are you getting the picture? There is far too much to see and do in one trip to the Museum. The “Legends” will take more time and trips to accomplish all there is to do.
Before we go, however, you will want to experience the “Fantasy Tree House of Sports” which dominates one end of the sports field. This sixty-foot tree was inspired by Disney’s “Tree of Life” letting visitors climb among giant pieces of sports equipment and provides a platform overlooking all the outside sports venues. The view is breath-taking and can only begin to make you appreciate the many sports experiences in which you have participated.
The Museum located at 3000 North Illinois Street is open Sunday thru Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday thru Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The doors are closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mondays. after Labor Day through February. For pricing of the “Legends” consult the Museum’s e-mail address: www.childrenmuseum.org/sport-experience.