Sports in Evansville, Indiana

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Evansville, Indiana, USA is the home of three minor league professional, two semi-professional, and one amateur sports team. The city is also the home to two NCAA collegiate teams, and nine high schools that participate in the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Evansville is also the annual host to the Hoosier Nationals, a BMX National Series race sanctioned by the National Bicycle League. The Hoosier Nationals take place on the BMX course at Evansville's Burdette Park.

Professional teams in Evansville[edit]

Evansville is currently the home of two minor league professional sports teams.

Club League Sport Venue Established Affiliation Championships
Evansville Thunderbolts SPHL Ice hockey Ford Center 2016 None 0
Evansville Otters Frontier League Baseball Bosse Field 1995 None 2 League titles; 5 Division titles

Evansville Otters[edit]

The Evansville Otters are a professional minor league baseball team based in Evansville. The team is part of the West Division of the Frontier League. The Otters have won two league titles (2006, 2016) and five division titles (1997, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006) since their inception in 1995. The team plays at Bosse Field, which has been used for minor league baseball since it opened in 1915 and is the third oldest ballpark used for professional baseball on a regular basis in the United States. The Otters were previously known as the Lancaster Scouts (1993–1994).

Evansville Thunderbolts[edit]

The Evansville Thunderbolts are a professional minor league hockey team based in Evansville. The team is part of the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Thunderbolts' home arena is the Ford Center where they play all 28 of their home games. The Thunderbolts replaced the ECHL's Evansville IceMen after the IceMen's owner, Ron Geary, and the City of Evansville failed to coma to an agreement for a new lease at the Ford Center during the 2015–16 season.[1]

Semi-Professional teams in Evansville[edit]

Evansville is the home of two semi-professional sports teams.

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Evansville Crush Premier Arena Soccer League Indoor soccer Metro Sports Center 2010
Evansville Enforcers Minor League Football Alliance American football Romain Stadium 2011

Evansville Crush[edit]

The Evansville Crush are a semi-professional football team based in Evansville. The team is part of the Premier Arena Soccer League. The Crush's home field is the Metro Sports Center.

Evansville Enforcers[edit]

The Evansville Enforcers are a semi-professional football team based in Evansville. The team is part of the Minor League Football Alliance and their season runs from Mid-May to Late September. The Evansville Enforcers' home field is Romain Stadium.

Amateur teams in Evansville[edit]

Evansville is home to one traveling Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) teams: the Dynamite Dolls.

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Demolition City Roller Derby WFTDA Flat Track Roller Derby Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum 2007 None
Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts NA3HL Ice Hockey Swonder Ice Arena 2015 None

Dynamite Dolls[edit]

The Dynamite Dolls are the A-team for Demolition City Roller Derby, a roller derby league in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) league. The team plays their home bouts at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum in downtown Evansville, Indiana.

Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts[edit]

The Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts are a junior ice hockey team in the North American 3 Hockey League. The junior Thunderbolt's home arena is at Swonder Ice Arena.

College teams in Evansville[edit]

Evansville has two universities that field teams for the NCAA: the University of Evansville (Purple Aces) and University of Southern Indiana (Screaming Eagles). These schools have a combined 8 team national championships.

School Established Division Conference National Titles Championship Sport/Years
University of Evansville Purple Aces 1854 Div I MVC 5  • Men's Basketball: (5) 1959*, 1960*, 1964*, 1965* and 1971*
University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles 1965 Div II GLVC 3  • Men's Basketball: (1) 1995
 • Men's Baseball: (2) 2010, 2014

* NCAA College Division (now Division II) national championships

Evansville Purple Aces[edit]

The memorial display case at the Ford Center honoring UE's championship tradition

The University of Evansville (UE) is a member of the NCAA Division I and the Missouri Valley Conference. UE has 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports, eight for women and six for men.

The University of Evansville athletics department was built upon a foundation of success in men's basketball, including NCAA College Division (now Division II) national championships in 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1971. The team was led by legendary coach Arad McCutchan from 1946 to 1977 who led the Purple Aces to a 515–313 record. In 1977 UE began playing in NCAA Division I athletics.

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles[edit]

The University of Southern Indiana (USI) Athletic Department is a member of the NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Valley Conference. USI sponsors 15 varsity intercollegiate sports.

Since 1990, all 15 Screaming Eagles teams have participated in their respective national tournaments and/or were ranked at the national level. USI has claimed three national championships (men's basketball, 1995; men's baseball, 2010 and 2014), finished three times as the national finalist (men's basketball, 1994 and 2004; women's basketball, 1997), and earned one third-place finish (men's cross country, 1982).

Defunct professional teams in Evansville[edit]

Evansville has had a long history with professional sports teams. Past professional organizations have included the NFL, Triple-A minor league baseball, arena football, minor league ice hockey, and professional basketball. Past Evansville major league, minor league, and semi professional teams have won a combined 17 championships.

Former professional baseball teams[edit]

Team Sport League Played Venue Class Affiliation Championships
Evansville Baseball Northwestern League 1884
Evansville Hoosiers Baseball Central Interstate League 1889
Evansville Baseball Illinois–Indiana League (Two-I League) 1892
Evansville Blackbirds Baseball Southern League 1895
Evansville River Rats Baseball Three-I League 1901– 1902 B None
Evansville River Rats Baseball Central League 1903– 1910 B Central League Title 1908
Evansville Strikers Baseball Central League 1911 B None
Evansville Yankees Baseball KITTY League 1912 D None
Evansville River Rats Baseball Central League 1914– 1915 Bosse Field B Central League Title 1915
Evansville Evas Baseball Central League 1916– 1917 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Black Sox Baseball Three-I League 1919 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Evas Baseball Three-I League 1920– 1923 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Little Evas Baseball Three-I League 1924 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Pocketeers Baseball Three-I League 1925 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Hubs Baseball Three-I League 1926– 1931 Bosse Field B None
Evansville Bees Baseball Three-I League 1938–1942 Bosse Field B Boston Bees, 1938–1940
Boston Braves, 1940–1942
Evansville Braves Baseball Three-I League 1946– 1957 Bosse Field B Boston Braves, 1946–1953
Milwaukee Braves, 1953–1957
Three-I League Title 1946, 1948, 1956, 1957
Evansville White Sox Baseball Southern League 1966– 1968 Bosse Field AA Chicago White Sox, 1966–1968 None
Evansville Triplets Baseball American Association 1970– 1984 Bosse Field AAA Minnesota Twins, 1970
Milwaukee Brewers, 1971–1973
Detroit Tigers, 1974–1984
American Association Title 1972, 1975, 1979
Evansville Outlaws Baseball National Semi-Pro Baseball Association 1990– 2007 Various Semi-Pro N.A. US Baseball Congress Semi-Pro World Series Champions 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007

Former professional football teams[edit]

Team Sport League Played Venue Championships
Evansville Crimson Giants Football National Football League 1921– 1922 Bosse Field None
Evansville Vipers Football Ohio Valley Football League, 2000–2006
Mid Continental Football League, 2006–2007
2000– 2007 Goebel Soccer Complex None
Evansville BlueCats Football National Indoor Football League, 2003–2005
United Indoor Football, 2005–2007
2003– 2007 Roberts Municipal Stadium None
Evansville Express Football National Women's Football Association 2004– 2005 Goebel Soccer Complex None
Tri-State Titans Football Mid Ohio Football League 2008– 2009 Goebel Soccer Complex None
Ohio River Bearcats Football Great Midwest Football League 2008–2010 Reitz Bowl GMFL Title 2008

Former professional basketball teams[edit]

Team Sport League Played Venue Championships
Evansville Agogans Basketball National Professional Basketball League 1950–1951 Old Evansville Central High School Stadium (Current Downtown Evansville YMCA Stadium) None
Evansville Thunder Basketball Continental Basketball Association 1984–1986 Roberts Municipal Stadium None

Former professional ice hockey teams[edit]

Team Sport League Played Venue Championships
Evansville IceMen (2008–2010) Ice hockey All American Hockey League 2008–2010 Swonder Ice Arena Rod Davidson Cup Title: 2010
Evansville IceMen Ice hockey Central Hockey League
2010–2016 Swonder Ice Arena
Ford Center

Evansville events hosted[edit]

NCAA events[edit]

From 1957 to 1975 Evansville hosted the NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship (Elite Eight) at Roberts Municipal Stadium, and then again in 2002. The city is also slated to host the event at the Ford Center in 2014. From 1999 to 2007 Roberts Stadium hosted the Great Lakes Valley Conference basketball tournaments, and in 2013 and 2014 the same event was held at the Ford Center.

A number of Division I NCAA events have been hosted by the city as well. In 1983 Roberts Stadium hosted the first round of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, and in 1980 and 1983 it hosted the Midwestern City Conference (now Horizon League) men's basketball conference tournament.

Thunder on the Ohio[edit]

From 1938 to 1940 and 1979 to 2009, Evansville hosted Thunder on the Ohio, a hydroplane boat race in the H1 Unlimited season. The race was held on the Ohio River in downtown Evansville. The winner of Thunder on the Ohio received the Four Freedoms Trophy, which was named after the nearby Four Freedoms Monument which rests along the Ohio River. The race had frequently been broadcast on ESPN and the SPEED television network.

Thunder on the Ohio had been an Unlimited hydroplane mainstay for 30 consecutive years. "Ideal Evansville" replaced Owensboro, Kentucky, on the unlimited calendar in 1979. Evansville was the world headquarters of Atlas Van Lines, Inc., which sponsored Bill Muncey's race team. Muncey played a major role in Evansville being awarded its first sanction.

Prior to Thunder on the Ohio, the 725 Cubic Inch Class boats, the forerunners of the modern unlimiteds, raced at Evansville from 1938 through 1940. Dave Villwock had won more Evansville races than anyone else, including seven with Miss Budweiser.

The Refrigerator Bowl[edit]

From 1948 to 1956, Evanville hosted the annual college football Refrigerator Bowl. Currently, Evansville is the only city in Indiana to have hosted a college football bowl game.

Date played Winning team Losing team Notes
December 4, 1948 Evansville College 13 Missouri Valley College 7 [2][3]
December 3, 1949 Evansville College 22 Hillsdale College 7 [4][5]
December 2, 1950 Abilene Christian College 14 Gustavus Adolphus College 7 [6]
December 2, 1951 Arkansas State College 46 Camp Breckinridge 12 [7]
December 7, 1952 Western Kentucky State College 34 Arkansas State College 19 [8][9]
December 6, 1953 Sam Houston State Teachers College 14 College of Idaho 12 [10]
December 5, 1954 Delaware 19 Kent State 7 [11][12]
December 4, 1955 Jacksonville State Teachers College 12 Rhode Island 10 [13]
December 1, 1956 Sam Houston State Teachers College 27 Middle Tennessee State College 13 [14]

Evansville high school state championships[edit]

Evansville has a proud high school sport heritage, including 72 team championships. Evansville has 9 active city high schools that participate in the Indiana High School Athletic Association. The 72 team titles won by Evansville city high schools includes 17 soccer titles, 14 football titles, 12 wrestling titles, 9 basketball titles, 6 tennis titles, 6 golf titles, 5 baseball titles, 2 softball titles, and 1 bowling title. Defunct IHSAA high schools from Evansville that are no longer active include Evansville Rex Mundi and Evansville Lincoln.

School Established Conference State Team Titles Championship Sport/Years
Evansville Bosse 1924 SIAC 3  • Boys Basketball: (3) 1943–44, 1944–45, 1961–62
Evansville Central 1854 SIAC 0
Evansville Day School 1946 IHSAA Independent 0
Evansville Harrison 1962 SIAC 2  • Girls Golf: (1) 1988–89  • Boys Golf: (1) 2011–12
Evansville Mater Dei 1949 SIAC 18  • Baseball: (1) 1998–99  • Softball: (1) 2015-16  • Boys Basketball: (1) 2003–04  • Girls Basketball: (2) 2011–12, 2012-13  • Football:(1) 2000–01  • Wrestling: (12) 1985–86, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2005–06, 2006–07
Evansville Memorial 1922 SIAC 30  • Baseball: (3) 1977–79, 1988–89, 1992–93  • Football: (2) 1937–38*, 1958–59*  • Boys Soccer: (13) 1979–80*, 1980–81*, 1981–82*, 1983–84*, 1984–85*, 1986–87*, 1988–89*, 1989–90*, 1990–91*, 1992–93*, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2016-17  • Girls Soccer: (4) 1988-89*, 1996–97, 2008–09, 2012-13  • Softball: (1) 2001–02  • Girls Tennis: (6) 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 2011-12  • Girls Basketball: (1) 2010-11
Evansville North 1956 SIAC 6  • Baseball: (1) 1961–62*  • Boys Basketball: (1) 1966–67  • Boys Golf: (1) 1999-00  • Girls Golf: (3) 2014-15, 2015–16, 2016-17
Evansville Reitz 1918 SIAC 13  • Girls Basketball: (1) 1980–81  • Football: (11) 1933–34*, 1940–41*, 1948–49*, 1953–54*, 1956–57*, 1957–58*, 1960–61*, 1961–62*, 1971–72*, 2007–08, 2009–10  • Bowling: (1) 2011-12+
Evansville Signature 2002 IHSAA Independent 0

* = indicates title won before IHSAA State Tournament was initiated
+ = indicates sanctioned by the Indiana High School Bowling Association

Notable Evansville athletes[edit]




  • Frank Kramer, 18-time national sprint bicycling champion, 2-time Grand Prix de Paris Champion, first American to win the World Professional Sprint Championship, US Bicycling Hall of Famer



Ice hockey[edit]

Horse Racing[edit]

  • Chic Anderson, sportscaster
  • Hillsdale ((Thoroughbred)), one of only 5 horses in history to sweep the prestigious Santa Anita's Strub Stakes Series




  • Byron "Buddy" Buckley, Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Famer
  • Louise Owen, tennis player
  • Sara Turber, formerly ranked second in the world in Lawn Tennis
  • Woodie Sublette-Walker, Chief of tennis officials for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

Track & Field[edit]

  • Charles Hornbostel, United States Olympic Track & Field team member in 1932 and 1936
  • Roger Brown, Evansville, Indiana (United States), 1984 Big Ten Outdoor champion for Indiana University, high jump 7-0.25" (2.14)

1986 Billy Hayes Inv. Outdoor Record, Jumped 7-1.75 (2.18)Champion



  1. ^ "Evansville will be home to Southern Professional Hockey League franchise". Evansville Courier & Press. February 8, 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Missouri Valley's Streak Of 41 Grid Wins Snapped". The Hartford Courant. December 5, 1948. 
  4. ^ Evansville Athletics – Football
  5. ^ "EVANSVILLE ON TOP, 22–7; Pins First Defeat on Hillsdale in Refrigerator Bowl". The New York Times. December 4, 1949. 
  6. ^ Athletic Hall of Fame – Gustavus Adolphus College
  7. ^ "Arkansas State Wins Refrigerator Bowl". The Washington Post. December 3, 1951. 
  8. ^ Western Kentucky University Official Sports Site
  9. ^ "REFRIGERATOR BOWL GAME WON BY W. KENTUCKY". Chicago Daily Tribune. December 8, 1952. 
  10. ^ ‘Yote Notes – Aug
  11. ^ BuckeyeXtra – The Columbus Dispatch : Former Buckeye helped rebuild Kent State program
  12. ^ "DELAWARE BEATS KENT STATE, 19–7; Wins in Refrigerator Bowl as Zaiser Scores Twice in Fourth Period". The New York Times. December 6, 1954. 
  13. ^ "Rhode Island Loses Refrigerator Bowl Duel To Jacksonville, Ala., State, 12–10". The Hartford Courant. December 5, 1955. 
  14. ^ ESPN – Middle Tennessee bowl history – College Football