To push the plan forward, Indy Eleven is proposing that financing for its Eleven Park stadium be rolled into legislation that includes arena upgrades for the Indiana Pacers.
Last month, Indy Eleven of Division II USL Championship unveiled a proposed new stadium that would be constructed as part of the larger Eleven Park development. Though a site has not been announced, Eleven’s vision calls for a new stadium for an MLS expansion club to be surrounded by amenities such as office and retail space, apartment units, and a hotel. Associated development would be privately financed at $400 million, but the club is seeking public backing for a $150 million stadium.
Standalone legislation was proposed to address the stadium, as Indiana senator Jack Sandlin introduced a bill last month that would designate Eleven Park as a professional sports development area, meaning that tax revenue generated within the area would go toward paying off debt from public funding sources. However, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ryan Mishler previously indicated he will not give that bill a hearing.
As an alternative, Indy Eleven is lobbying that its proposal be rolled into Mishler’s separate legislation that could provide funding for Bankers Life Fieldhouse renovations and secure a lease extension with the Pacers. On Thursday, Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir met with lawmakers to make his case for including Indy Eleven’s plans in that legislation, noting that it is a crucial part of the MLS expansion effort. More from the Indianapolis Star:
Ozdemir has pledged that his six-year-old franchise would pay for any shortfalls if the development does not generate enough taxes to cover the cost of the stadium.
The reality, though, is the stadium would be publicly owned. If Ozdemir is for some reason unable to cover debt service as he pledges, the city or state might feel obliged to bail him out.
Still, Ozdemir insisted there is no risk of exposure to the city or the state.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a permanent home for soccer in Indiana,” he said. “We simply cannot continue this positive momentum without a world-class facility in Indiana.”
The Pacers-related legislation is set for a Senate Appropriations Committee vote next Thursday, and it could be decided then whether or not to include the Eleven Park stadium proposal.
Under the vision unveiled by Indy Eleven in January, Eleven Park would be anchored by a new 22,000-seat, multi-purpose stadium. The facility would be surrounded by private development, including roughly 150,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail, 600 apartment units, and a 200-room boutique hotel.
Image courtesy Indy Eleven.