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Indians celebrate 20 years at Victory Field

Posted at 11:55 PM, Apr 14, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Indians fans made their way downtown Thursday to celebrate the season opener, along with the 20th anniversary of Victory Field.

Bush Stadium was 65 years old and crumbling when Victory Field was rolled out to replace it.

The Indianapolis Indians had seven employees before the move. Now they have 45.

Democratic Governor Evan Bayh and Republican Mayor Stephen Goldsmith collaborated to make the $18 million structure possible. The Indians came up with $9 million, and the Capital Improvement Board financed the rest.

Despite that, a downtown ballpark was not universally embraced at the time.

"A lot of people weren't really for it," said Indians Board Chairman Max Schumacher. "Because they didn't understand what a new park could do for a city. We had studied ballparks that had been recently built, and knew it could work very, very well here."

And it has worked. Attendance figures are in excess of 600,000 every year.

"It's affordable family fun," said General Manager Randy Lewandowski. "That's really what we are about, and what our mission is. To see that come to fruition with people in the stands – that's really satisfying and fulfilling."

The Indians recently signed a new, 20-year lease, meaning they'll be in Indianapolis for at least two more decades. That's good news to Visit Indy.

"Inevitably, the landscape of downtown Indianapolis will change," said Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl. "But one thing that's remained, and we feel is necessary to remain, is that ballpark. That iconic ballpark that year in and year out welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors."

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