Sports Xtra: Indy Eleven to host fans Saturday

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jul 09, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — This weekend, soccer returns. And so does the Brickyard Batallion and more. But none of it comes easy.

There was a laundry list of items that Greg Stremlaw, CEO and president of Indy Eleven, had to go through before Indy Eleven's first game back on the field.

"Right at the top of it was health and safety," Stremlaw said.

As the Indy Eleven become among the first to return, with fans, the team's president finds himself in the middle of it. Both locally and as one of only five serving on a national "COVID-19 Task Force for Pro Sports."

"Our ticketing manifest has been built around social distancing. When you go to buy a ticket, you have to indicate if you're a group of two or a family of four. And you can only buy in those pods," Stremlaw said. "So, you know, you're fully insulated to the best protocol out there not only by the state but federally and certainly the CDC. We've superseded all of those."

There will be a temperature check at the door. Mandatory masks. Several seats and rows are separating groups. Not to mention, changes at Lucas Oil Stadium, like touchless restrooms and grab-and-go concessions.

Ryan Vaughn, the president of Indiana Sports Corp., has worked with the Indy Eleven. As well as other major sports commissions around the country.

"And I think the plan that the Indy Eleven have, and have built-in, (coincide) with Lucas Pile Stadium and the Capital Improvement Boards, and approved by the health department is a fantastic road map and leading the way in reopening the city for sports."

"And I'm really proud of this city. We're in it together. We absolutely are," Stremlaw said. "No one wants the Indy Eleven to fail this weekend. Nobody wants the Indy 500 to fail next month. Nobody wants these events to not go well."

Ultimately, it's a pitch to get back to the pitch, as the Eleven is among the first to put out a full safety plan. One, they say, exceeds all CDC guidelines.

"I do believe that Lucas Oil Stadium - when we resume play - will be the safest location. The safest venue in the country. Bar none," Vaughn said.

And as long as there are no storms Saturday night, the plan is to open the roof and window. A little fresh air adding to the safety.

It's about a win even before the match begins.