For immediate release:
Jan. 15, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - Dreams of bringing a professional sports franchise to Northwest Indiana have led State Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago) to author a bill (House Bill 1376) that aims to establish a professional sports development commission.
Combined desires for aggressive regional growth and development have led Rep. Harris to partner with co-authors Rep. Chuck Moseley (D-Portage) and Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) on this legislation.
[Rep. Harris (right) is joined by by his wife, Donna, and bill co-author Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) as he files HB 1376 with the Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives.]
“Scoring an NFL team would offer virtually unlimited economic development opportunities for Northwest Indiana, possibly the entire state,” said Harris. [In the photo at right, Rep. Harris (right) is joined by by his wife, Donna, and HB 1376 co-author Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) as he files HB 1376 with the Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives.]
“Formation of this commission will be the starting point of those efforts,” he added. “Its duties would include studying various plans and recommendations to attract one or more professional sports franchises to Northwest Indiana and preparing, implementing, and monitoring the progress of a comprehensive master plan for building the facilities to house teams and other infrastructure.”
Increasing numbers of Northwest Indiana residents are packing up and leaving, without new residents taking their place. Rep. Harris believes now is the time to reach out to lawmakers and brand Northwest Indiana as a legitimate destination point. Teams reportedly considering relocation include the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and San Diego Chargers.
Rep. Harris shrugged off the suggestion that a Northwest Indiana NFL team wouldn’t survive being located in such close proximity to the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
“We’ve got to go for it. Chicago once had two NFL teams, and New York still does,” remarked Harris. “The Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens play in stadiums that are 32 miles apart, about the distance from downtown Chicago to central Lake County. After all, Indianapolis only got the Colts by literally carrying the team’s equipment from Baltimore in 1984.”
The proposed commission’s membership would include regional mayors from (1) East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Michigan City, LaPorte, Portage, and South Bend and (2) one appointed member of the board of county commissioners and city council from each of the following counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph.
A professional Sports Development Fund comprised of appropriations made by the General Assembly, grants, donations, and accrued interest would be created under the proposed legislation.