Indianapolis Colts move training camp to Anderson
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Kris Ockomon was a police officer in 1998, the last year the Indianapolis Colts held training camp at Anderson University.
He vividly recalls the rookie quarterback.
"I remember the face of Peyton Manning being a babyface," he said. "Brand new."
Officer Ockomon, now Mayor Ockomon, will welcome Manning and the Colts back to Anderson for camp this year after an 11-year run in Terre Haute. Since the last camp in Anderson, Manning has become a Super Bowl champion and four-time MVP.
"If we would have known then what we know now about him -- it's amazing," Ockomon said.
Colts president Bill Polian made the official announcement Thursday the Kardatzke Wellness Center on campus. He remembers driving Manning to that last camp in Anderson.
"I brought along someone who was attending his first training camp, No. 18, Peyton Manning," he said to loud applause. "As we drove up in the car, we discussed our hopes and dreams for the future of the Colts, and obviously, lots of them came true."
The Colts chose Anderson as their original training camp site when they moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis before the 1984 season. They remained there before moving to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute before the 1999 season.
"We enjoyed our time at Rose-Hulman greatly," Polian said. "The people who work there are family. There was nothing lacking at Rose-Hulman. I think both parties thought it was time for a change."
Polian said it's a one-year deal because of uncertainty about the NFL's labor issues, but the goal is to have a long-term deal in Anderson. Art Pepelea, a city councilman, created a group that had been trying to draw the Colts back since he took office in 2003.
"Anything great is not going to happen overnight," he said. "We just felt that they are the premiere franchise, and we just thought if they were ever unhappy or everything wasn't working out right, we wanted to be first in line, and that's why we kept pursuing the situation."
The school added synthetic turf and lights to Macholtz Stadium in 2008.
"We're excited about the facility, we're excited to be back in Anderson, we're excited that many of our fans who live nearby can come and watch the team," Polian said.
Polian and Ockomon agreed that the location, 45 miles from downtown Indianapolis, helped. They also cited the population base surrounding Anderson and the upgraded facilities were factors that made Anderson a prime location.
"We're glad to take the reins from Terre Haute," Ockomon said. "We hope to have the same success that they enjoyed over the past several years."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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