'Quarterback' of city’s sports image: Executive helped engineer Indy's growth into host of national, international events


Mark Miles in his Indianapolis office Friday Oct, 26 2012. STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON/sroberson@dailyjournal.net

One has to travel back to a time of short shorts and feathered bangs to unearth the origins of Mark Miles’ contributions to Indianapolis’ growth as a sports center both nationally and globally.

Pinched between the city’s first Final Four in men’s college basketball and opening ceremonies of the National Sports Festival is the year 1981. Exciting times. Uncertain, too, for a region unafraid to dream bigger than its heartland reputation claimed it should.

It’s here Mark, the second of Jim and Eileen Miles’ five children and Indianapolis born and bred, began doing volunteer work as the city braced itself for the 1982 Sports Festival. Seven years earlier, Miles had sat out a year of college to work on Mayor Richard Lugar’s run for the U.S. Senate.

Lugar narrowly lost to incumbent Birch Bayh. In a sense, though, Indianapolis had triumphed for reasons entirely unrelated.

“Staying out of school in 1974 and working for a political campaign was the most impact thing I had done,” Miles said.

“That was eye-opening. It made a huge impact on me in terms of my motivation level. It meant exposure to high achievers. Exposure to deadlines. The ability to compartmentalize.”

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