Indy Eleven not giving up on stadium hopes

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — INDY ElevenLeaders of the Indy Eleven soccer team aren’t giving up on their hopes of a new stadium, saying it is needed for the long-term success of a franchise that just completed its second season.

The team saw its attendance drop about 6 percent this year after selling out all of the nearly 10,500 seats for each game during its 2014 season at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, which was built in 1982 for track and field events.

The current stadium lacks modern amenities that sports fans have come to expect and doesn’t have concourses where people can take shelter during storms, team President Peter Wilt told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

“It doesn’t give you long-term hope or opportunities for large success,” Wilt said. “We’re open to all thoughts, but renovation of Carroll Stadium doesn’t seem to be a workable solution for the team.”

A proposal seeking state support for an $82 million, 18,500-seat stadium in downtown Indianapolis failed in the General Assembly this year, as did a scaled-back plan for a $20 million renovation and expansion of Carroll Stadium.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he didn’t expect legislators would advance a stadium funding plan during the 2016 session since that would fall in the middle of the state’s two-year budget cycle.

“The concern all along is, there needs to be a substantial investment made by the team’s owner, and so far that hasn’t been done,” Kenley said.

Businessman Ersal Ozdemir owns the Indy Eleven, which plays in the North American Soccer League — a step below Major League Soccer. Despite this year’s attendance decline to an average of about 9,800, Wilt is confident the team could fill an 18,500-seat venue for its 15 regular-season home games.

“You can’t even compare what the experience — with better sight lines and seating and other amenities — would be in a new stadium compared to where we play now,” Wilt said. “Absolutely a new stadium would help us draw more people.”

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