Indianapolis eyes MLS expansion team


Indianapolis to pursue a new stadium Image: Indianapolis, Carol M. Highsmith, Public Domain

The US city of Indianapolis has put in a bid to host a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team.

The IndyStar said the move could harm plans that are already underway to develop Eleven Park, a more than $1 billion mixed-use development anchored by an Indy Eleven soccer stadium.

The $1.5 billion Eleven Park project as proposed includes the 20,000-seat stadium, 600 apartments, 205,000 square feet of office space, 197,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a 4,000-seat indoor music venue.

It also would include extensive green space and an amphitheater. The stadium is expected to cost anywhere from $200 million to $250 million.

The development by the Indianapolis-based Keystone Group would occupy about 20 acres currently under construction at the former Diamond Chain Co. site downtown near the White River. Keystone head Ersal Ozdemir, also owns the Indy Eleven.

But Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told reporters that his staff has now submitted to the Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC) a proposal for the creation of a new professional sports development area to bring a soccer stadium to Downtown Indianapolis near the Downtown Transit Center.

Hogsett said, “Indianapolis has long been a marquee destination for professional and amateur sports.

“A significant part of this collective success stems from our history of local and state collaboration, the ability to articulate a common vision and a corporate and community commitment to seeing the city’s teams succeed.”

An ownership group is forming to help pay the club’s franchise fee. The San Diego Football Club, which will become the 30th MLS team when it debuts in 2025, paid a $500 million expansion fee.

The new Professional Sports Development Area would be an alternative to the one already established for Eleven Park and Indy Eleven.

City officials said 355 E. Pearl St. has been identified as the alternative site for the soccer stadium. The one-mile radius around the stadium will comprise the new PDSA.

The MDC will discuss the resolution at its next meeting and then it will go to the Indianapolis City-Council for approval.

Keystone Group issued a statement in which it criticized Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration for trying to walk away from the Eleven Park project.

City officials say there was never a deal with Keystone and Indy Eleven, just negotiations. When they analyzed the numbers, it was determined the existing professional sports development area would not generate enough revenue to cover the funding gap for the Eleven Park stadium, they say.

Keystone said in a statement, “This is more than disappointing – it’s a shocking reversal of Mayor Hogsett’s public support for this project at the 2023 ground-breaking, for the dozens of local investors in this team, the thousands of Marion County jobs committed by Indiana companies who have been working on this project, and the tens of thousands of Indy Eleven fans in Indiana and across the country.”

Current plans call for Eleven Park to be financed through a public-private partnership. The Indiana General Assembly approved legislation to help fund the stadium in 2019.

Keystone broke ground on Eleven Park in May 2023. The company called the planned stadium is MLS eligible.

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