1987: Indianapolis hosts 10th Pan American Games

Posted at 5:33 AM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 05:33:38-04

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 6,000 athletes, coaches and trainers from 38 nations traveled to Indianapolis for the 10th edition of the Pan American Games in 1987. The games ran from August 7-23.

Held every four years, the Pan Am Games preceded the Summer Olympic Games. They featured athletes from around the Americas.

Indianapolis was picked as the host of the games on November 9, 1984 thanks in large part to the success of the 1982 National Sports Festival.

A sellout crowd of 70,000 attended the opening ceremonies at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 8, 1987. Some 6,500 performers filled the front stretch of the Speedway, which served as the stage of the festivities. It spanned the length of six football fields. Eight central Indiana high school bands combined to form a 1,000 member marching band.

The theme of the ceremony was “The Magic that is America” and it was produced by Walt Disney Productions. Vice President George Bush was on hand as Wilma Rudolph lit the torch.

According to a 1987 WRTV report, 947,469 fans attended the games, spending about $9 million on tickets alone. A whopping 38,000 volunteers, 4,000 of which came from out of state, helped facilitate the games.

At the conclusion of the Pan American Games, the executive director of the Indiana Sports Corporation said, “I think the old saying is that it’s not over until the fat lady sings and we’re not inviting any fat lady to sing at Indianapolis for a long time.”