A request for Indy Eleven stadium funding is moving forward, but is doing with several contingencies after being rolled into other legislation.
USL Championship‘s Indy Eleven has proposed new stadiums at a few points in the past as part of MLS expansion pitches, and its latest plan calls for a new facility as part of the proposed Eleven Park development. Eleven Park would feature mixed-use amenities that are privately financed at a cost of $400 million, but the club is seeking public financing for the $150 million stadium.
After standalone legislation to designate Eleven Park a professional sports development area (PSDA) failed to gain traction, proponents of the project pushed to have it rolled into a separate bill that could provide funding for Bankers Life Fieldhouse renovations and secure a lease extension with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. The Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee voted on Thursday to add authorization for Indy Eleven stadium funding to the Pacers-related legislation, but several contingencies were tacked on in the process.
Technically, the bill is not worded in a way that requires Indy Eleven to be the MLS expansion team that uses the stadium, though it lays out requirements the club would have to fulfill as it tries to move forward. As part of those requirements, Eleven would have to complete a successful MLS expansion bid and sign a 25-year lease with the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), the proposed stadium owner. It also requires the club to fund at least 20% of the stadium’s construction costs, and gives it two years to gain MLS entry. More from the Indianapolis Business Journal:
On Thursday, the committee added language that would allow the creation of a new PSDA and capture of up to $8 million in tax dollars that would be used to construct the proposed $150 million stadium for the Indy Eleven. The location of the PSDA and the stadium are not specified in the legislation and would require multiple state approvals before it would be finalized.
And the state funding only becomes available if the team becomes part of the MLS and signs a 25-year deal with the CIB. The legislation gives the team just two years to join MLS.
Mishler said he did not confer with Indy Eleven on whether the two-year time frame was realistic, because the stadium would not necessarily have to be for Indy Eleven. The language only specifies that funding would be for a Major League Soccer team.
“It’s not an Indy Eleven bill. It’s a soccer stadium bill,” [Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan] Mishler said. “Proponents of soccer wanted a soccer stadium, so we devised a plan very similar to that of the other stadiums.”
The bill cleared committee on Thursday, allowing it to proceed to the full state senate for consideration. That means there will be plenty more discussion about this proposal among state lawmakers, and whether it fits into their priorities.
“Today was a step forward for professional soccer in Indiana,” read a statement issued by Indy Eleven after Thursday’s vote. “Thank you to our fans for your outreach and the amazing support for soccer around the state. We will continue to work toward a soccer-specific experience for the world’s game in the Hoosier state. This gives fans another reason to be excited for this 2019 season and the momentum we are collectively creating.”
Image courtesy Indy Eleven.