INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Sports Corp and its partners are preparing to host an unprecedented lineup of events in Indianapolis over the next four years headlined by the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four and 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship. Initial planning is underway as community leaders citywide are coming together to make these events an unparalleled success.
In late 2017, the Indy Championships Fund, Inc. (ICF) was formed to lead the fundraising efforts that will financially support the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four, CFP National Championship and other premier sports events. Melissa Caito, formerly the Vice President of Corporate and Executive Affairs at Indiana Sports Corp, has taken on the role of Chief Administrative Officer for ICF. Caito is the lone full-time employee for ICF and is responsible for the organizational marketing initiatives, execution of strategic planning and partner events and fulfillment.
ICF is led by a group of volunteer community leaders including co-chairs Colts Vice Chair/Owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon and newly added former Eli Lilly CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors John Lechleiter, ICF President David P. Lewis and Vice President Cathy Langham. ICF will push to raise $25 million to support a four-year stretch of major events.
“The Indy Championships Fund presents our community with a unique and unprecedented opportunity to host multiple major sporting events while showcasing our city for the betterment of all our citizens,” said Lechleiter. “I look forward to the opportunity to serve with other local leaders in this effort.”
Following the announcement of the 2022 CFP National Championship last November, the non-profit organization 2022 Indy College Football Playoff, Inc. was created. Indiana Sports Corp Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Susan Baughman, will transition mid-summer to serve as the president of 2022 Indy College Football Playoff, Inc. As president, Baughman will organize and execute the planning of the National Championship with the Indianapolis Host Committee.
In an effort to address future staffing needs, Indiana Sports Corp has reorganized its staff creating three key positions. Samantha Cross, formerly the Vice President of Events at Indiana Sports Corp, is now the Chief Operations Officer and will oversee the strategic direction of four departments: events, business development, marketing and public relations and youth initiatives.
Indiana Sports Corp has also hired Melissa Thompson, formerly with Hathaway Strategies, as Chief Community Officer. Thompson will be responsible for board affairs, community initiatives, event bids, serve as Indiana Sports Corp’s board appointment to Sports Indiana as well as handle government relations.
As Project Manager at Hathaway Strategies, Thompson offered extensive experience in event and logistics planning as well as public space management. Prior to joining Hathaway Strategies, Thompson served as the first-ever venue manager for Georgia Street, one of downtown Indianapolis’ premier outdoor event spaces. She handled day-to-day operations and maintenance of the venue as well as event coordination and planning.
Finally, Indiana Sports Corp is posting a position for a Chief Talent Officer. The Chief Talent Officer will be responsible for developing and implementing programs designed to attract and develop the highest caliber of talent to meet the needs of the organization and that of our partners and to extend our company culture and provide organizational assistance to our local organizing committees and volunteer efforts.
“Indy is poised for an incredible run and I couldn’t be happier that we have two experienced senior leaders in Susan and Melissa willing to step up and assume new roles in our community to help ensure these events are a great success,” said Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn. “In that same spirit I’m thrilled to welcome Melissa Thompson to our team. We’ve worked together in the past and I know she’ll be a tremendous asset. The future for Indy and the Indiana Sports Corp is bright and we’re excited to get started on the next chapter of success.”
Information about the upcoming event schedule in Indianapolis, future volunteer opportunities and job postings can be found at www.IndianaSportsCorp.org.
Founded in 1979 as the nation’s first sports commission, Indiana Sports Corp is a not-for-profit organization focused on bringing premier sporting events to Indiana to drive economic vitality, facilitate a vibrant community with civic pride and garner positive media attention. Because of this, Indiana Sports Corp is able to provide positive, sports-related opportunities for youth in the community. For more information, please visit IndianaSportsCorp.org.