Indianapolis sports-medicine developer says he’ll build 20,000-seat something for somebody

File this under “probably just trying to get publicity, but”: A developer who wants to build a $500 million (!) sports medical complex (!!) on the site of Indianapolis’s old airport terminal says he’s looking to build a 20,000-seat arena or stadium (!!!) as part of the plan. And Athletes Business Network Holdings co-founder Craig Sanders says he’s “having very active discussions with sports organizations outside of Indiana, professional and amateur,” though he wouldn’t say which ones.

Which ones is a huge question, since the Pacers and minor-league baseball Indians already have their own venues, and Sanders says he hasn’t had any talks with the owners of Indy Eleven, who want a new stadium but prefer it to be downtown. That leaves the NHL, maybe, but there’s been no talk of interest in Indianapolis by that league. The WNBA Fever are owned by the Pacers, so now we’re down to things like arena football and futsal, neither of which is going to be enough to anchor an arena. Nor are concerts, frankly, considering the venue would be competing with the Pacers’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse for events.

Still, as someone always on the lookout for outside-the-box ways to finance sports facilities that don’t involve massive public subsidies, “build it as a loss leader for a for-profit medical center” isn’t the craziest idea, quite. The airport board is expected to approve ABN tomorrow as the winning bidder to develop the site, so ball (or puck) is in their court now. They already have renderings!

5 comments on “Indianapolis sports-medicine developer says he’ll build 20,000-seat something for somebody

  1. This appears to be a pipe dream based on the CEO’s track record. The Indianapolis Business Journal published a detailed report on his background today.

    “The top executive at an Indianapolis start-up that wants to build a $500 million medical complex at the Indianapolis International Airport describes himself as an expert in investments, financial planning and wealth management.

    “But Craig Sanders, co-founder and CEO of Athlete’s Business Network, has a mixed track record. He built a massive network of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, opening more than 200 locations in six cities nearly a decade ago. But the business struggled, lost millions of dollars and went bankrupt in 2009, and the chief financial officer went to prison for stealing $429,000.

    Sanders also filed for personal bankruptcy in 2013.”

  2. The snazzy half minute slideshow with “excitement” music points out that the medical center would specialize in head trauma, concussion treatment, and sports performance, so maybe this is being positioned as the place players demand playing at as the concussion research rolls in.

  3. Indy provides operating subsidies to most of their teams. Just can’t see Bettman not kicking the tires on this one.

  4. @Indy Guy:

    Oh-oh! Looks like someone ( Craig Sanders) forgot to grease the editors and reporters at IBJ!

    This “news” outlet ( the IBJ) NEVER has anything critical to say about the horrendous financial deals between the city and the Colts, Pacers, the Indians and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, regardless of how many millions of dollars get funneled to the wealthy team owners at the expense of the citizens there. In fact, the IBJ ran a fawning story of how Jim Irsay spent 1.75 million dollars on Ringo’s old drum kit. Not a peep on the millions he gets from Indy.

    And this was after Irsay and the Colts hit up Indy for more upgrades and renovations to Lucas Oil Stadium ( none of which he’ll be kicking in for.

    But suddenly the IBJ goes all “investigative”? Please. The IBJ is a joke. There hasn’t been a stadium/arena deal they’ve ever criticized, no matter how ridiculous it was/is.

  5. I would like to announce that I am interested in developing a sports facility in my city. I already have a portion of the land (1/16th an acre) needed, and private capital (say $50,000!), so if some league or government entity just wants to put up the rest I can bring major league something to our town!

    Think of all the economic activity my spending of these subsidies will create!