Indy Eleven, a franchise in the North American Soccer League, this week caused a stir in the local—and regional—soccer community by announcing an exhibition match against Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire on April 1 on the Purdue University campus.
The game at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex in West Lafayette (1350 McCormick Road) is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Given the relatively small size of the venue and its proximity to central Indiana and Chicago, I'm guessing the game will be a sellout. When I first tweeted this news late Wednesday, the re-tweets came in fast and furious. So I know the local fan base is fired up about the match.
Tickets for the exhibition are currently available at IndyEleven.com and cost $15 for preferred seating and $11 for general admission. Online ticket sales will end on March 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Fans that choose the e-ticket option of delivery should receive the e-ticket in their inbox on March 24, team officials said.
Separate sections at the Boilermaker Soccer Complex will be made available for members of the two clubs’ respective independent supporters groups. Those tickets are $11. The Indy Eleven’s support club is called the Brickyard Battalion and helped rally support to start the team.
“A match against the Chicago Fire has been high on Indy Eleven fans' wish list since day one, and we're glad to give them the chance to create what will be an outstanding atmosphere up in West Lafayette,” said Indy Eleven President/General Manager Peter Wilt. “Most importantly, this game offers one more chance to take on quality opposition as we get ready for the opening of our season 11 days later.”
Wilt was no doubt instrumental in putting together the exhibition with the Fire. He was the Fire's founding president. Chicago Fire officials are no doubt eager to tap into the excitement building for soccer in central Indiana. Much of that excitement these days revolves around the Indy Eleven.
The exhibition could be a shrewd move by Indy Eleven officials to establish a rivalry early with the Fire. It could be a helpful stepping stone to the local team one day in moving up to the MLS. It's also a good move by the team in terms of regional marketing.
The match against the Fire will mark Indy Eleven's sixth exhibition game against an MLS side this preseason. With its April 12 inaugural game against the Carolina RailHawks quickly approaching, the match will provide Indy Eleven another tough test in preparation for its first season of play in the NASL.
The Indy Eleven will play its first season at the IUPUI track and soccer stadium, but have already begun lobbying local officials to help it build an $87 million 18,500-seat downtown stadium.