Indy Eleven stadium funding passes first hurdle

New Indy Eleven stadium

State Indy Eleven stadium funding received initial approval from the Indiana House, as Gov. Mike Pence expressed a fair look at the NASL project.

The Indy Eleven funding, which would put $5 million in tax revenues derived from new-stadium revenues back into the $82-million downtown stadium project, now goes to the state Senate after passing the House by a 73-21 margin. However, Pence — a noted fiscal conservative — did say he could support the stadium funding provided it would protect taxpayers:

“I want to make sure that anytime we see a public facility that has public support, that the public that will enjoy the facility will be the ones we look to for that financial support,” Pence said.

The proposal did change before the vote: the team agreed to put up half the money for the stadium, backed by other investments from team owner Ersal Ozdemir in downtown Indy. Still, there’s the chance the state Senate will pass on consideration: it was deemed not to be a priority by Senate President Pro Tem David Long, and it doesn’t have the full support of the Indianapolis Senate delegation.

In response, Indy Eleven President and General Manager Peter Wilt issued an open letter to legislators, arguing that the stadium money would be an investment in downtown Indianapolis. You can find it here, and here’s the gist:

We appreciate those who ask the question, “Why now?” for such a stadium. The answer is simple. Our attendance projections for a new stadium are based on the assumption of a downtown location, one that is centrally located for all audiences and preferred by our fans. Yet, the downtown properties Indy Eleven is considering for the stadium may not be available years from now. A number of factors could drive up the costs of building the stadium, and therefore, make it far more difficult for the financials to work.

The fans are here now, and so are the Hoosiers who need jobs. The stadium and hotel development combined would create thousands of jobs in construction and hundreds of permanent jobs once completed. The sooner the stadium is built, the sooner our City and State can benefit from its very real and immediate economic impact.

Believe me, Indy Eleven has evaluated many different options for a permanent home. Lucas Oil Stadium simply cannot serve as a viable home for the club due to scheduling conflicts, facility rental costs and control of various revenue streams.  From a business standpoint, Lucas Oil Stadium is simply not a short- or long-term possibility for Indy Eleven.

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