Indy Eleven unveils sketches of proposed stadium

A sketch of the proposed stadium.

After one year of playing at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium, Indy Eleven wants a home of its own.

Wednesday, it shared new images of an $82 million multi-use venue it's proposing for downtown.

While team president Peter Wilt stressed the design by Kansas City-based Populous is still in the "concept" stages, it does reflect the modern, state-of-the-art venue they're seeking. Images show a bird nest-like canopy covering three-quarters of the stadium, similar to the bird nest-looking venue built for the Beijing Olympics.

The stadium would seat 18,500, with standing room areas bringing total capacity to 20,000 people. Besides soccer, it could host other sports including football, lacrosse and field hockey along with marching band competitions and concerts.

"The site lines are made for field sports. There's not a bad seat in the house," Wilt said.

The plans call for at least 10 acres of property. While the exact location is still to be determined, he said the team was committed to staying downtown.

"A downtown location is important because it serves as an economic generator, so people can spend money before and after the games shopping, going to bars and restaurants," he said.

The push comes on the heels of the Indy Eleven's debut season, in which it played to sell-out crowds at Carroll stadium, which was expanded to 10,500 seats.

"Selling out every game in an inaugural season is something no American team has ever done," Wilt said.

At Chatham Tap, a British-style pub where soccer is always playing on TV, patrons shown images of the proposed stadium liked what they saw.

Anne Marie Chambers said, "It looks really cool, it's modern. It would definitely be an exciting place to watch a game."

Vesone Dean offered, "I'm not a huge soccer fan but it looks pretty cool, looks nice. I'd give it a shot."

But there were also concerns raised about who'd be picking up the tab for the stadium.

Todd Kern said, "I still question the viability of soccer, and right now our product isn't a winning product."

Marcus Billings said, "As long as they're not dipping into my pockets for extra money to support it, that's okay. I live in Morgan County. We're the only ones that kind of eighty-sixed the Colts tax, so we're kind of rebels I guess. I just think businesses need to stand on their own two feet."

Wilt said while the team is counting on the General Assembly to help, "The good thing is if you don't go, you don't pay."

He means that the plan the team is proposing would not include any increase in city or state taxes. Instead, the stadium would impose an in-house fee or "tax" on ticket sales on the more than 50 events they anticipate hosting annually.

While no city or state taxes would be involved, the plan still calls for the venue to be owned and operated by Indianapolis' Capitol Improvement Board, which oversees Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Victory Field.

That concerns Kern, who wasn't crazy about the CIB agreeing last year to spend $160 million to operate and upgrade the Fieldhouse over the next ten years.

"It's been kind of a fiasco the last few items they've taken care of, so I'm not sure adding more to the plate is the thing to do," he said.

Wilt acknowledged, "There are costs in running a stadium and those discussions with legislators and others will take place...but it's important the public owns the asset the community is helping finance and at the end of the day, this is a stadium for the people of Indiana. It is their stadium."

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to hear the bill next month. In a statement, CIB President Ann Lathrop said, "The success of Indy Eleven last year was a wonderful development for our local businesses and soccer fans throughout Indiana. We anticipate meeting with its leadership and discussing their financial reports and projections."

Wilt said if the legislation goes through and the CIB signs off, the team would break ground this year with the new stadium open for the start of the 2017 season. Until then, they will continue to play at Carroll Stadium.