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Indy scores pro soccer team

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soccer2-15col.jpg Brickyard Battalion members celebrated in January when plans for the new team were announced at a press conference at the JW Marriott. (IBJ file photo)

Fueled by enthusiasm from a boisterous group of central Indiana soccer fanatics calling themselves the Brickyard Battalion, local real estate executive Ersal Ozdemir in late 2012 and early 2013 began laying ground work to launch a North American Soccer League franchise in Indianapolis.

By April, Ozdemir had hired Peter Wilt, a former president for Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, and named the team the Indy Eleven. The numerical name references the number of players soccer teams place on the field, but also recalls Indiana’s 11th Regiment in the Civil War, which posted significant contributions under the command of Hoosier-born Col. Lew Wallace.

Ozdemir, president of Keystone Realty Group, secured a deal to play the first couple of seasons at the track and soccer stadium at IUPUI, but said he hoped to build an 8,000- to 10,000-seat soccer stadium downtown within the next four years.

Ozdemir raised eyebrows in November when his company became one of four finalists to develop the former General Motors Stamping Plant on the southwest edge of downtown. A city official said an element of Ozdemir’s plan could accommodate a soccer stadium.

Enthusiasm for the team, which will begin play in April, remained strong through 2013, with the club selling out its supply of 7,000 season tickets and then starting a waiting list. The Eleven also signed big sponsors, including a three-year deal with Honda Manufacturing of Indiana and Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

As the year closed, Eleven officials announced their first player signings and a deal to have home and select away games televised on WNDY-TV Channel 23, the sister station of WISH-TV Channel 8.

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  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

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