AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) — The Auburn Auction Park, which has hosted classic automobile auctions that drew tens of thousands of car enthusiasts and bidders for decades, has been sold.
J.T. Fisher Properties LLC has purchased the sprawling property off of C.R. 11-A, just off Interstate 69, from RM Sotheby’s auction company. The sale was finalized Friday.
The sale makes way for the long-anticipated Auburn Sports Group’s youth sports complex called Auburn Sports Park, a $42 million development on the 168-acre site of the auction park that will aim to draw in regional and national tournaments, sports camps and local sports teams. Developers also plan to build on 70 acres on the south side of C.R. 11-A.
On Wednesday, RM Sotheby’s told WANE 15 it would not be holding an auction in Auburn over the Labor Day weekend. The spokesperson didn’t provide any other details. The announcement means the end of an auction that first took place in 1971. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021.
John Kruse, co-owner of with WorldWide Auctioneers, said his auction company might expand to fill the void if there’s no other Labor Day auction. Worldwide Auctioneers operates across I-69 highway from the auction park.
Plans call for:
- 16 basketball/volleyball courts
- 4 soccer/lacrosse fields
- 8 baseball/softball fields
- 1 four-season dome
- 25 7-on-7 football fields
- 2,000 car parking
- concessions, amenities
- walking path
On the south side of C.R. 11-A, developers plan for:
- 4 hotels
- restaurants, bars and pubs
- gas/convenience store
- weight training facility
- retail strip center
- manicure and barber
- coffee shop
- recreational facilities
- other retail and commercial
The Auburn Sports Group said an additional $100 million could be put into the project.
The project will be considered by the Auburn Plan Commission in March. If the project stays on schedule, play could begin at the complex this summer. Auburn Sports Group’s president of operations Rod Sinn said they’d like to have part of the complex open by June.
Sinn said they plan to renovate the existing buildings and also build a four-season dome for additional space.
Sinn said they plan to keep some mementos that honor the history of it being an auction park.
“We want to keep that, you know, the memory of that here, and we’re not going to ever get rid of that, but we are transitioning to all youth sports. So, that’s what it will end up being,” Sinn said.
Of course, a huge change like this has Auburn residents feeling mixed emotions about the project.
“I think it’s crazy. I think it needed to stay the way it was,” Auburn resident Penny Davidson said. “When the auctions were out there, I thought it was really cool. It’s just sad that it’s no longer an auction place.”
“That’s a good thing. It’ll bring more people to the town, and it is a great town,” Auburn resident Tina Baughman said.
The potential economic impact of the project is massive, according to the Dekalb County Economic Development Partnership’s executive director Anton King. He said that having the complex in use year-round rather than just a few weekends a year, plus all the commercial and retail developments that would come with it, will have a huge impact on the community.
“Once this project can come to fruition, it’s bringing traffic in that we may not have seen otherwise, not to mention the commercial-type development that can come with it,” King said. “[It brings] Youth sports, which is a growing market across the U.S. no doubt. So, one, it provides a venue here locally for parents to tap into, but then also it makes Auburn, Indiana and Northeast Indiana a destination for youth sports.”
While the auction park is changing, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival and all of the festivities related to it will not be going away.