- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A $35 million project will transform a parking lot at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis into an outdoor activity zone that organizers hope will encourage healthy lifestyles.

Museum officials announced project details Wednesday for the 7.5-acre Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience. The exhibit will have spaces for football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey and tennis activities, along with a mini golf course and two pedal car racetracks.

“Our hope from the Sports Legend Experience is that all Hoosiers will gain a better understanding of the importance of health and wellness and to leave inspired to put into practice what they learned during their visit,” said Matt Cook, the president of Riley Hospital for Children.

The museum expects the activity zone to be ready for visitors in spring 2018. Plans call for the outdoor areas to be open between March and November, depending on the weather.

Sponsors for sports areas within the new zone include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and U.S. Tennis Association.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck joined Wednesday’s announcement, saying he believed the sports zone will encourage youths to be more active.

“This sports utopia is everything a kid could ever want,” he said.

The museum is among the city’s top attractions, drawing more than 1 million people a year.

The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission approved the expansion plans this month, finding the museum’s parking garage and other parking lots are adequate to make up for the some 330 parking spaces to be lost by the project.

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