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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. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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