New Indy Eleven stadium plans were unveiled today, as the NASL franchise revealed a very unique look for an 18,500-seat facility in downtown Indianapolis.
That pro soccer has been a hit in Indianapolis is clear: last season Indy Eleven sold out all 14 home matches at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, averaging 10,450 fans per game. With prospects for continued success clearly present, team ownership is asking the state to finance the $82-million facility, which would be repaid from ticket revenues.
And while the final design of the proposed facility is still not finalized, the current plan calls for a birds-nest-style canopy covering the grandstands — a design that should diffuse light at night and be a signature feature. (The designer: Populous.) Besides hosting soccer, the facility could also host football and concerts.
The issue: whether the Indiana legislature will finance part or all of the cost. Last year the team pitched lawmakers on an $87-million facility; this year the price tag is $5 million less and is structured differently, providing what team officials say provides more protection to taxpayers. From the Indianapolis Star:
[Team president Peter] Wilt said he is “cautiously optimistic” that lawmakers can be persuaded to have taxpayers help build the stadium…..
Wilt said lawmakers are taking a different approach to the stadium proposal this year.
“The big difference between this year and last year — probably because there wasn’t much time and we hadn’t proven ourselves — is the legislators didn’t really engage us in discussion as much. This year, they seem to be trying to find solutions and trying to come up with better ways to get it done.”
The renderings are the first step in the process. A bill outlining the financing plan is expected to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee, but in the meantime Wilt and crew will continue to make the case for public financing. A core part of the argument: with Indianapolis’s strong identity as an amateur-sports mecca, the new stadium can be used for a variety of sports besides professional soccer: football, lacrosse, amateur soccer, field hockey and concerts. The other core part of the argument: a feasibility study that will lay out the economic benefits of a new stadium.
The team has set up a site to push the project: stadiumforindiana.com.