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Indy Eleven enters bid for to become Major League Soccer member in 2020

Indy Eleven applies for MLS expansion
Posted at 11:11 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 23:09:40-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis' professional soccer team, Indy Eleven, wants to become a member of soccer's top league in 2020. 

Indy Eleven Founder and Owner Ersal Ozdemir delivered the club's official application book to Major League Soccer President Mark Abbot on Tuesday. 

“Indy Eleven has permanently established professional soccer in America’s premier sports city, and now is the time to show that Indianapolis is the next great MLS city,” said Ozdemir. “We are excited to make the case for our tremendous fan base, dedicated partners, visionary civic leaders and all Hoosiers who embrace the sport.”

The MLS is looking to grow from 24 teams to 28 teams with the current expansion plans. The expansion fee for teams 25 and 26 is $150 million, a record-high fee. That cost doesn't include building a stadium. 

“The expansion fee really is the start of a huge investment in MLS from each group," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in December. "As every potential market will be building a stadium, that leads to an investment that will go well north of $300 million.”

The deadline for cities to submit applications for the expansion is Tuesday. 

The MLS requires the following information from cities: 

  • A description of ownership structure and financial information.
  • Details on the proposed stadium, including a financial plan, governmental approvals, and public official support.
  • Financial projections and commitment letters to stadium naming rights and jersey sponsors

Two expansion teams will be named in the second or third quarter of 2017, with two more to be named later.

Indy Eleven currently plays in the North American Soccer League, one level below major league.

Major League Soccer currently has 22 teams, 19 of them in the U.S.A. and three in Canada. The Los Angeles Football Club will join the league in 2018. A team from Miami will soon join the league.

Indy Eleven’s expansion bid is built upon four strengths the club has exhibited since its founding in January 2013:

  • Fan Support: With just under 10,000 fans per game across its first three seasons, Indy Eleven has proven it has the fan base to support Major League Soccer. The addition of MLS, as it has in other markets, will cause these attendance numbers to grow dramatically. 
  • Stadium Project: A downtown location with convenient access for motorists and pedestrians has been identified for a 20,000-seat stadium built with soccer as the focal point. As with the city’s other world-class sporting venues, the new stadium will be within walking distance of all the tremendous shopping, dining and activities that downtown Indianapolis has to offer.
  • Local Ownership: The club has commitments from a great group of owners who live and work in Central Indiana - and know what Indianapolis is about. This growing group is ready to lend their successful business backgrounds, strategic values, and financial resources to help make Indy Eleven’s expansion bid a winner. The list of prospective investors, which is expected to grow in the coming days, currently includes:
    • Ersal Ozdemir - Founder & CEO, Keystone Realty Group
    • Mickey Maurer - Chairman of the Board, National Bank of Indianapolis and IBJ Corp
    • Jeff Laborsky - President & CEO of Heritage
    • Mark Elwood - CEO of Elwood Staffing
    • Andy Mohr - Founder & Owner of Mohr Auto Group 
  • Corporate Community Support: Indy Eleven has cultivated relationships with a tremendous group of sponsors, companies with strong global, national and local recognition like Honda (the team’s first Corporate Partner and primary jersey sponsor), McDonald’s, Finish Line, Anthem, Allegion and Community Health Network, counting amongst the dozens of current partners. This is a list that will grow exponentially to meet the exposure opportunities that participation in Major League Soccer will provide.

Other teams that have submitted bids for expansion into the MLS include Detroit, Phoenix, St. Louis, Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, Tampa Bay and San Diego.