Indy Eleven will need state support for the construction of a downtown MLS stadium, but it is uncertain whether legislation can be finalized in the coming weeks.
At the end of January, Indy Eleven announced its intent to join the mix of MLS expansion candidates. The organization, which is one of 12 entities in the mix, discussed the possibility of constructing a new downtown Indianapolis soccer-specific stadium that would be partially paid for by state funding.
While some officials have expressed support for the concept, it has not yet translated into concrete legislation. For Indy Eleven and owner Ersal Ozdemir, the question will be whether a proposal to fund the facility will emerge before state passes its biennial budget by April 29, as lawmakers are saying that the plan is not part of active legislation. More from The Indy Star:
“It’s in the background, but I have not heard any specific proposal,” said state Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis. “There’s been no active consideration.”
Sen. Luke Kenley, the Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which controls the budget process, could not be reached for comment.
Elected officials generally like the idea of having an MLS team in Indianapolis. Mayor Joe Hogsett was among dozens of influential people who signed letters of support that were included in Indy Eleven’s MLS bid package. Thomas Cook, Hogsett’s chief of staff, said the mayor has met with team officials and legislative leaders and is “very interested in talking about what bringing a new professional sports team to the city could mean.”
But here comes the cold water.
“We’re going to be looking to see what state legislative leaders have to say about that, and that will probably set the tone for what the city’s involvement, if any, is going to be,” Cook said.
Though acknowledging that there is not active legislation in place, officials from Indy Eleven are stressing that the proposal cannot be completely ruled out at this point. More from The Indy Star:
“We continue to have conversations with the Statehouse and mayor’s office,” Indy Eleven president Jeff Belskus said. “We don’t have any active legislation at the moment, but I think to call it dead would be premature.”
Indy Eleven has made a run at state funding for MLS stadium before, as the organization sought to finalize a plan in 2015, only for the proposal to stall. The NASL franchise currently plays its games at Carroll Stadium, which is not up to MLS standards.
The MLS is expected to select at least four clubs from this round of expansion. Two will join the league by 2020, with the remaining pair entering at a later date.
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