The announcement took place at noon on Wednesday on May 20, 2009, in what is described as a "one-of-a-kind type of sponsorship" by the IHSAA. What this announcement does is relieve a multitude of Indiana high school football purist's minds as to the next 3 years as to the location of the state finals. But more that that, as in the words of associate commissioner of the IHSAA in charge of football, Bobby Cox, "The biggest winners are the 160,000 athletes who play Indiana H.S. sports."
There was more at stake than just staying warm and comfortable in Lucas Oil Stadium for the state football championships. It can be argued that the IHSAA has the best venue in America for its state football finals. But when the adults who make these decisions for high school kids get it right, the decision should be celebrated. The IHSAA let it slip after the 2008 playoffs that the expenses at Lucas oil were putting its future playoff consideration in a cash flow problem for the IHSAA.
The IHSAA awards cash to its playoff participants (the participating schools) as they climb toward a state championship. According to Bobby Cox, the IHSAA paid out over two million dollars to all playoff participants for their success. "We are one of the few states who do this at this level. The extra expense of the football playoffs was going to bite into that quite heavily," Cox told Scout.com.
Enter the NFL Colts, who have been promoting themselves as "Indiana's Football Team" with multiple promotions from pre-school through high school with their philosophy of developing "Colts fans for life." Former Colt and Green Bay player, Mike Prior, has been Youth Coordinator for several years and oversees Colts Youth Football activities. "This was a natural for us," Tom Zupancic told Scout.com. Zupancic is the Vice President of Colts Promotion and Marketing. "We have been talking about this for about a year," He said.
Zupancic went on to state, "The Colts and the IHSAA share the same values toward youth sports." The Colts' sponsorship of the complete IHSAA football series will insure that the IHSAA will continue to reward those teams who excel through the playoffs. It also continues the foundation the Colts are trying to lay in becoming Indiana's NFL football team. Commissioner Cox stated that the Colts liked the strong corporate opportunity to support high school football. With 40 football sectionals, 20 regionals, 10 semi-states and the 5 state championships, the blue horse-shoe will insure that football will continue to have its unprecedented growth in Indiana.
Both entities mentioned that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard had significant input with all these possibilities. Mayor Ballad, the Colts and the IHSAA all worked together to bring about the best result for the kids. The mayor said, "Lucas Oil Stadium is a community gathering place for our entire state and I am pleased that we will continue to call it the home of the IHSAA Football State Finals." Associate Commissioner Bobby Cox said it best and said it right, "The biggest winners are the kids who play."