If Indianapolis soccer fans want to see MLS expansion, a high-quality soccer stadium — and not necessarily a renovated Carroll Stadium — is essential to capture the attention of league officials.
A day after an influential state Senate committee rejected $82 million in state funding for a new Indy Eleven stadium and instead authorized $20 million for Carroll Stadium upgrades, team president Peter Wilt was answering questions from the media about what it would take for Indianapolis to land an MLS expansion team — in the context of Minneapolis landing the 23rd MLS squad, of course. Wilt’s answer, per WISH, was pretty simple — a 20,00o-capacity facility that would meet MLS standards:
“Certainly it’s a step in the right direction,” said Wilt. “We haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk with the architects and the construction folks yet but we’re very hopeful that with that money and additional funds from the city and other sources that we’ll be able to develop a stadium that’s suitable for first division standards.”
MLS President and Major Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott echoed the sentiment:
“It’s absolutely critical. We set out as a requirement for expansion that we have a new facility in the markets that we select,” Abbott said. “It’s important for our fans. They want to be able to watch games in the sort of professional facilities, same sort of amenities that they see for all the other professional sports. It’s critical from a business perspective and it’s a strict requirement for the league when we’re evaluating expansion opportunities.”
With MLS Commissioner Don Garber saying that 24 teams is not an absolute ceiling on league membership, he’s opened the door to Sacramento, Miami, San Antonio, El Paso and Indianapolis for future expansion. When Indy Eleven was first launched, owners were pretty clear that MLS expansion was their goal down the road.