Ersal Ozdemir, Indy Eleven Owner Proposes New Stadium

Image The owner of the Indy Eleven says his new pro soccer team could build an 18,500-seat multipurpose stadium for $87 million, benefit from local tax revenue and not take money from the city’s budget. Ersal Ozdemir said Friday night that he understands why Indianapolis taxpayers wouldn’t want to pay for yet another sports venue. “I totally get that. People are just tired of that,” said Ozdemir, a local real estate developer. “Because of that, really, we were being very thoughtful of that.”
The Eleven will play their first game April 12 in the North American Soccer League, a second division league in the sport and one notch below Major League Soccer.

For Indy ever to become an MLS franchise, it would have to have a bigger stadium. IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium will accommodate about 11,000 fans for the Eleven’s first season.

If a new stadium seems too much, too soon, Ozdemir defended the proposal in two ways: 1) outpouring of support has been “just tremendous” for the franchise, and 2) it takes such a long time to find a location, raise the funds and construct a stadium that he did not want to delay.

“I’m a local guy. I’m not going anywhere,” Ozdemir said. “I want to make sure this is a long-term team that is successful.”

He said debt for stadium construction could be paid off by accruing taxes from the downtown Professional Sports Development Area. That would resemble deals that the Indianapolis Colts get for Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Pacers for Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Eleven intend to build a stadium in or near downtown. Among the potential sites is a former General Motors metal-stamping plant west of the White River.

The Eleven have sent letters to season ticket-holders with a plea to ask their representatives in the Indiana General Assembly to support a stadium initiative. The team has also done so on its website and posted a FAQ elaborating on its position.

The team is asking for $5 million of the annual $8.8 million that would be generated in tax revenue, Ozdemir said. The team is “not asking for one dollar” that is currently in the city budget, he said.

The team underscored its theme with a Twitter post: “No handouts wanted! Project would be paid for by the club and other users of the building through revenue generated by its use.”

The proposed stadium wouldn’t have all the “bells and whistles” of recently constructed stadiums in Kansas City, Mo., and Harrison, N.J., according to Ozdemir. He said the Eleven’s proposed stadium could also hold concerts and NCAA championships, notably in soccer and lacrosse.

The owner said the Eleven have been so strong in social media – 10,500 Twitter followers and 27,600 Facebook likes – that the team is second in the NASL only to the New York Cosmos. The Eleven stopped taking deposits for season tickets after 7,000 were reached. (David Woods,
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07