With a proposal to renovate IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium dying when the Indiana General Assembly adjourned for the 2015 session, Indy Eleven GM Peter Wilt says the team will be back in 2016 to once again seek state funds.
By all accounts, a conference committee was close to passing a bill dedicating $20 million in hotel and property taxes to the renovation; put simply, all sides ran out of time before adjournment. Literally: most of the big issues had been agreed upon, but a furious attempt to craft a final bill came short. From the Indianapolis Star:
“We just couldn’t get all the parties on the same page,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers. “Everybody was acting in good faith, willing to get something done. But it wasn’t going to work out this session.
“We were defining contributions and getting the right language with the state, IU, the team, the city. There were too many details from a financial standpoint for each of the parties. Honestly, we just ran out of time to nail everything down.”…
Huston said the complications included how hotel tax money would be used compared with tax money captured from the team and stadium. He noted that the Capital Improvement Board, which operates Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center, receives hotel tax money for its work.
Yesterday Wilt issued an open letter to the Indy Eleven community, expressing his disappointment with the legislative outcome but pledging to return in 2016:
Dear Indy Eleven Supporter,
By now you’ve read the headlines that the effort to secure a multipurpose stadium to house Indy Eleven games in downtown Indianapolis stalled during the last hurdle in the legislative process in the Indiana General Assembly. Although we are disappointed that time simply ran out at the Statehouse, we continue to be inspired by the remarkable support shown by fans, sports enthusiasts and everyday Hoosiers for a stadium built to showcase not just soccer, but other events that would be a tremendous economic driver for both the City and the State.
Because of that passion you displayed in recent months, Indy Eleven will continue to pursue the first-division-quality stadium that you deserve and will showcase Indiana’s fastest growing sport.
The Indy Eleven organization prides itself in using grass roots approaches to build our fan base and community support. Your efforts – from sending letters to legislators and newspaper editors to participating in a fantastic rally at the Statehouse — created a wave of momentum to build upon. Bottom line, you helped Indy Eleven score major victories by converting Hoosiers, including legislators, into supporters for the “Stadium for Indiana.”
While conferees from the Senate and House were unable to reconcile the differences between their two unique bills before the end of the 2015 session, we sincerely appreciate the careful consideration HB 1273 was given.
It’s important to stress that lawmakers came very close to making this into a reality. Since its introduction in January the stadium bill received overwhelming bipartisan backing from legislators. If the final tabulations of the votes in various committees and full floor votes were equated to the field, this would have been considered a blowout victory. That just goes to show that many lawmakers understand what you already know — passion for soccer runs deep throughout Indiana and a stadium for the sport in downtown Indianapolis would serve as an asset for all Hoosiers. Armed with your support, we will continue to focus on a new stadium initiative to give the beautiful game a beautiful home in Indiana.
We urge you to continue what you have been doing since the club’s launch – help Indy Eleven establish itself in the community and in the stands passionately cheer the team on to victory on the field. Special things are afoot during this second season, and we hope you will keep on supporting your Boys in Blue with the intensity and loyalty that has caught the attention of the soccer community across North America and beyond.
Peter J. Wilt
President and General Manager
Indy Eleven Professional Soccer
He may have some additional ammunition: with Don Garber saying MLS will probably expand past 24 teams, Indy may have a real shot at moving up the ladder.
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