The Indiana House of Representatives has approved a bill that includes funding for a new Indy Eleven stadium, and stripped a requirement that it house an MLS team in the process.
During the ongoing Indiana legislative session, lawmakers have been debating a proposal for a new Indy Eleven stadium as part of a larger development named Eleven Park. Eleven Park would include $400 million in privately financed mixed-use development, with the club–which currently competes in USL Championship, but has had MLS ambitions for years–has been seeking public funding for a new stadium estimated at $150 million.
In February, the state senate approved Senate Bill 7, which would also provide a funding mechanism for projects at other facilities, including renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the NBA’s Pacers. As it relates to Indy Eleven, the legislation would allow revenue from a special taxing district around the facility to go toward paying off debt from the stadium. It contained several contingencies, however, including one that called for Indy Eleven to join MLS by 2022.
That would have prevented Indy Eleven from moving forward with the stadium project until an MLS expansion bid was approved, but the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee voted on Monday to eliminate that provision. That led to the House of Representatives approving the bill on Thursday, sending it to the state senate for consideration. More from the Indianapolis Business Journal:
As for the soccer stadium, the bill would allow up to $9.5 million annually in certain tax revenues to be captured for up to 32 years. And unlike earlier versions of the legislation, Indy Eleven would not be required to join Major League Soccer. The Eleven currently plays in the second-tier United Soccer League.
As proposed by Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir, the $150 million, 20,000-seat soccer stadium would be part of a $550 million, mixed-use project called Eleven Park. The residential and commercial parts of the project would be privately funded, but Ozdemir proposed that the stadium be funded with tax revenue generated by the larger Eleven Park.
Indy Eleven would have to sign a long-term agreement with the CIB and pay for 20 percent of the stadium construction costs.
While the Indy Eleven stadium legislation is by no means final, the removal of the MLS requirement could give the club a few advantages if it is finalized. Indianapolis is not in the running for MLS’s 28th team, so immediate expansion is highly unlikely and the timing of if/when the league will seek to grow beyond 28 teams remains to be seen. In theory, this could also allow Indy Eleven to plan on initially building the stadium for USL Championship action and leave the door open for future MLS expansion (as Louisville City FC is doing with its new stadium that will open in 2020.) Indy Eleven is currently playing home matches at downtown Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, which is primarily the home of the NFL’s Colts.