INDIANAPOLIS -- In order for Indy Eleven to join the MLS, the team needs a new stadium.
To get that stadium, it needs some help.
Right now, the team plays at Michael A. Carroll stadium on IUPUI’s campus. But MLS requires the team to get a new stadium before getting an invite to play in the United States’ premiere soccer league.
Indy Eleven President Jeff Belskus’ stadium idea is a 20,000-seat venue near “stadium village” southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium. It would be south of McCarty Street, east of Kentucky Avenue and west of West Street (see map below.
The stadium would cost between $100 million and $120 million. By comparison, Lucas Oil Stadium cost about $720 million to build in 2008.
“It would be paid for by user taxes -- people who attend events at the stadium,” Belskus said last month. “Those taxes would be captured to help fund a portion of the stadium. It would be a private-public partnership.”
The money would be raised through tickets and merchandise bought from people who use the stadium.
“We’re continuing to work with state and local officials on how we can structure this in a way that is beneficial for everybody,” Belskus said. “It for works for us, it works for this community. Those are ongoing conversations.”
That’s the plan, anyway. It requires cooperation from state legislature.
The team was close two years ago when the Indiana House approved a plan to authorize more than $80 million for a new stadium. The Senate approved a version of that bill that authorized about $20 million in improvements to Michael Carroll Stadium. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on the actual bill, and it died.
“Because we've previously gotten some yes's, we're optimistic that we can continue to work with everyone to make this happen,” Belskus said.
A spokesperson for the Capital Improvement Board, which owns other sports facilities in Indianapolis, said the CIB is not currently engaged in conversations about the stadium, but is “generally supportive” of a Major League Soccer team in Indianapolis.
MLS officials said they will announce two cities to join the league sometime during the summer, so the clock is ticking for Indy Eleven to get its stadium plans nailed down. On Wednesday afternoon, an Indy Eleven spokesperson said the club had “no new statements” to make on proposed legislation, but it’s still discussing it with different parties.
Two more cities will be named sometime after the first two.
Despite the challenges, Belskus still thinks it “makes a lot of sense” for Indy to have an MLS team.
“We've proven with the Indy Eleven averaging almost 10,000 [people] per game over three seasons that we'll support soccer in this market,” he said. “You combine that with the fact that Indianapolis is a great sports market.”
Some MLS teams share their stadiums with other sports, like Gillette Stadium or Yankee Stadium. But a few teams have their own stadiums.