Potential Indy NWSL Club a Possibility–Eventually

Eleven Park stadium rendering

Indy Eleven officials are interested in possibly adding an NWSL club to the organization down the road, but their more immediate focus is on a proposed stadium project.

USL Championship’s Indy Eleven, a club that has long held MLS expansion ambitions, has made progress this year in its effort to build a new stadium as part of a larger mixed-use development dubbed Eleven Park. Indiana lawmakers have approved a funding mechanism for a proposed new 20,000-seat stadium that would anchor Eleven Park, with the legislation allowing tax revenue collected within the development to cover the public’s 80% share of the stadium project’s $150 million cost. The facility would be surrounded by $400 million in privately financed mixed-use development that includes a hotel, residential units, and office and retail space.

As it plots its long-term future, Indy Eleven is acknowledging that adding a professional women’s club in the NWSL is of interest, though the possibility is not imminent. In the more immediate future, Indy Eleven has plenty to outstanding tasks to accomplish in order to make the proposed stadium a reality, but the organization could take a closer look at adding an NWSL team once a new facility is in place. More from the Indianapolis Business Journal:

Once a stadium is constructed, [Indy Eleven CEO Greg] Stremlaw said, the team expects to move forward with bringing a women’s team to central Indiana.

But a new franchise also depends on the long-term viability of the NWSL itself. The league has hemorrhaged money since its founding in 2013 and receives about $8.5 million in annual subsidies from the U.S. Soccer Federation, which manages the league.

“It’s really important that any professional team has the ability to be successful,” Stremlaw said. “We also want to ensure that the league is also successful.”

The national team’s success has spurred some companies to sign on as sponsors for the league, offering a marketing and revenue boost for the NWSL in recent days. This includes Budweiser, which gained naming rights to the league’s playoffs and most valuable player trophy through a multi-year deal.

The NWSL is currently competing at nine teams, and has not announced firm plans for future expansion. Should it get to the point where future expansion moves forward, perhaps Indy becomes an intriguing candidate, especially if Eleven can finalize plans for a new stadium. The club currently plays home matches at downtown Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, which is primarily the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Rendering courtesy Indy Eleven.

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