Circle City Classic

The Circle City Classic, sponsored by the Indiana Sports Corporation and the Indiana Black Expo Inc., is held every year in downtown Indianapolis. Based on the inspiration of one man, the Rev. Charles Williams, this unique event focuses on African American economic status, growth, and achievement through the years. Today, it is a major attraction, and one that brings over 175,000 people to the city for a fun-filled weekend of sports and entertainment. With support from the Lilly Endowment Fund and numerous volunteers, the Classic has been held every year since its opening game on October 13, 1984, between Jerry Rice’s Mississippi State Delta Devils and Eddie Robinson’s Grambling State Tigers of Louisiana. The Coca Cola Circle City Classic football game features the two best NCAA teams from historically black schools in an exciting game of college football in the RCA Dome, the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Schools such as Howard University, Prairie A & M, Spelman College, Tuskegee, and Hampton University were established when segregation was still in practice, but they now welcome all college bound students.

Circle City Classic highlights African American culture, celebrating the achievements of students, national leaders, and the quality of education that is available, as well as paying tribute to past and present sports heroes. The Classic opens on game day with a parade, sponsored by American Family Insurance, of marching bands and drill teams from across the country, star performers, celebrities, and dignitaries. A free Fall Festival begins on the same day and lasts until 11 p.m. at the Pan Am Plaza across from the Dome. Other entertainment leading up to and following the game includes casino and cabaret nights, a pep rally with free tours of the NCAA Hall of Champions, a golf tournament, and the coronation of Miss Circle City Classic.

The Circle City Classic is much more than a football game and a weekend of fun, however. It sponsors a year-round program designed to develop the mental and physical potential of the youth of Indianapolis. Through the efforts of the sponsors of this event, several million dollars in scholarships have been awarded to deserving young men and women at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. In addition, the Indianapolis Black Alumni Council holds a college fair at Crispus Attucks Middle School, where parents and prospective students can visit with officials from over 50 schools across the nation. Other programs offered by the Circle City Classic include college readiness workshops and scholarship awards for students entering their senior year in high school, youth football and cheerleading clinics, high school basketball recruitment and networking, and sports journalism.

The Indianapolis Colts Classic Coaches Luncheon is a main attraction that features the Major Taylor award and student athlete awards. Marshall “Major” Taylor was the remarkable world cycling champion in the late 1800’s who grew up poor, delivering newspapers in Indianapolis to become a professional racer, setting records when blacks were seldom acknowledged in the sports world or elsewhere for their abilities. Although Taylor died penniless and was buried in a pauper’s grave, he was honored posthumously and reburied in Chicago with a memorial service in 1948. This award pays tribute to the Major and his achievements, and is given to a black athlete, coach, or administrative official for their contributions to sports. Previous Major Taylor award winners have included Muhammad Ali, and Olympic gold medallists Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Dominique Dawes, and Shani Davis.

October 6, 2007: Winston Salem State vs. Florida A & M, RCA Dome, kickoff 4 p.m.
Circle City Classic Office — Ph: 317-237-5222
RCA Dome Box Office: 317-262-3389

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