Saturday, March 17, will be a game-changing day for the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which will unveil its new, expansive Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience – with a dozen outdoor sports and health and fitness areas. The areas sit north of the museum along the Old National Bank Avenue of Champions, which dramatically expands the museum’s campus with a dozen bronze sculptures representing 16 sports legends.
Museum officials said the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience combines rich sports history, physical fitness, and health education in a variety of family-fun, indoor and outdoor experiences.
Youths can run, drive, jump, putt, and play while learning how to stay happy, healthy, and safe. They will be able to meet a legendary sports character every visit, hear their story of greatness, and get coached in the drills and skills that helped them succeed.
Here is just a small sampling of opportunities that will await visitors:
Auto racing is the theme of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pedal Car Racetrack Experience and Church Brothers Collision Repair Drag Strip, featuring both an oval track and a drag strip with pedal cars.
Visitors can stop by the pagoda to learn some auto history and watch a safety video before taking to the pedals in a stock car, IndyCar, funny car or Top Fuel dragster. (There is a height requirement for this experience. Closed-toed shoes are required.)
In the Subway Soccer Experience, visitors can be a playmaker or a goalie, learn some soccer fundamentals or show off fancy footwork in front of one of the bigger goals, or kick through the goalie’s gaps on one of the smaller goals.
Visitors can climb in and out of their favorite sports on the Tree of Sports, which reaches an interior height of 25 feet with even taller branches outside. Climbers can communicate with friends or family from the ground up with a talk tube, or climb high then take a ride on one of three tree slides. The tree features several viewing platforms with unique views of the Sports Legends Experience.
Modeled after U.S. Tennis Association’s “10 and Under Tennis” program, the Seymour and Rheta Holt Tennis Center courts are the perfect stop for youngsters to ace their serves and returns. Visitors can use one of the museum’s Net-Generation racquet and low-compression balls to hit back and forth with their family, or perhaps challenge their forehands and backhands at the practice wall.
In the Indy Fuel Hockey Experience, youngsters can imagine themselves in the rink with the Fuel team or celebrating the Stanley Cup with Wayne Gretzky. They can also grab a stick and street-hockey ball and play on a street hockey rink, or learn how to puck handle, pass, and shoot.
Four nine-hole courses comprise the Pete and Alice Dye Golf Experience presented by Henry and Christine Camferdam, with two of those putting courses designed by the legendary course designers and Hoosier natives Pete and Alice Dye. All the holes on those two courses are replicas of their most-famous designs from around the world. New golfers can try the introductory course inspired by the Dyes, and there’s also a toddler course for the littlest golfers.
Baseball is represented by Wiese Field donated by Elizabeth Bracken Wiese and J. Frederic Wiese Jr. Visitors can hit a home run, hang out in the dugout, use a tee (or not) to hit a pitch, or learn about the Indianapolis Clowns Negro League baseball team.
In the Indiana Pacers and Fever Basketball Experience, activities include learning the moves of Tamika Catchings and Reggie Miller with a few fundamentals, perfecting passes at different speeds and angles to Pacers/Fever player targets, or challenging the whole family at a shot-clock hoop.
On the Cory SerVaas Fitness Path and Jane and Steve Marmon Run-Walk Experience, visitors can get in the recommended daily cardio on the track, which also features training stations along the way to keep muscles healthy and strong. Take a stroll or sprint on a track measuring two-fifths of a mile, or learn about running legend Wilma Rudolph.
Players of all sizes can prepare for an epic touchdown celebration on the Indianapolis Colts Football Experience, where visitors can brace themselves for the defense by learning how to properly grip a football and dodge the opponent. Or, be the ultimate kicker by practicing on one of two field goals (one for little kickers and one for big kickers), or practice the height and angle of a throw to a family-member receiver over opponent cut-outs.
Sports legends with ties to Indiana are represented on the Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions, which features statues and histories of such stars as Larry Bird, Tamika Catchings, A.J. Foyt, Bobby “Slick” Leonard, Reggie Miller, Oscar Robertson and Reggie Wayne.
In the Efroymson Pavilion…
There is indoor action as well. Three new indoor exhibits will be located in the new Efromyson Pavilion and Plaza – two of them permanent and a third changing themes every year. The permanent exhibits are The World of Sport and National Art Museum of Sport; the opening temporary exhibit is titled History of Hoops.
In The World of Sport, play the role of an athlete, announcer or sportscaster, learning about iconic moments and the hard work it takes to achieve such goals, sports and otherwise. The exhibit has three other areas – Pro Sports Legends (play a role with a jersey from a favorite sport); NCAA Sports Legends Training Facility (stick the landing from a floor beam, work as a crew in a rowing challenge or be the best hockey teammate in a goal-blocker challenge); and the Church Brothers Collision Repair Motorsports Garage (test speed and safety in a pit-stop challenge or see a car raced by Indy 500 driver Willy T. Ribbs).
The National Art Museum of Sport is dedicated to celebrating sport through art. Select pieces will be on display from the collection’s nearly 1,000 works. On display will be works such as Cobb Slide by Ray Ellis; French Connection by LeRoy Neiman and Jackie Robinson by Barney Stein. The museum will also have a space to encourage children and families to create their own sport-inspired masterpieces.
The first temporary exhibit in the Efroymson Pavilion will be History of Hoops, which seeks to convey excitement of basketball and its importance in Hoosier communities throughout history. Featuring Indiana’s professional teams, the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, visitors will be introduced to the skills and talents needed for the highest levels of play, and how those skills are applied even in the most basic game of street basketball. Activities include footwork tips from Tamika Catchings; a chance to compare height, shoe size, and hand size to two of Indiana’s greats; perfecting a shot with arcade basketball; and keeping up with Reggie Miller’s speed from his most-famous play.