Soccer team owner concedes battle for stadium funds this year

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The owner of the Indy Eleven soccer franchise has conceded that his push for state financing help for a proposed 18,500-seat, $87 million stadium in Indianapolis will have to wait on the bench at least a year for another legislative session.

“We remain committed to working with legislators with an eye toward coming back next session and continuing the discussion about Indy Eleven's successful launch and its economic impact on our community and state,” team owner Ersal Ozdemir said in a statement released early Thursday afternoon.

Ozdemir made the statement soon after Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said at a Thursday press briefing that the proposal "doesn't seem like it's completely worked through yet. I think it would be wise for everyone to take a deep breath, step back and look at it."

Indiana legislators had been considering a proposal from Ozdemir that would add a 10-percent tax to tickets for the team’s games and other events at the proposed venue. The tax would be able to generate as much as $5 million in revenue annually to make payments on 30-year construction bonds that would be sold to finance the project, Ozdemir said.

However, an independent analysis by the Legislative Services Agency recently found that the venue would generate a tiny fraction of the revenue that Ozdemir projected. The bottom line for the state would be $218,000 to $445,000 a year, according to the analysis.

One critic of publicly financed stadiums described Ozdemir’s figure as “completely insane.”

“There’s no way on earth you could get $5 million a year in ticket taxes from a minor-league soccer franchise even with concerts and other events,” said Neil deMause, the Brooklyn-based author behind the Field of Schemes book and blog.

After initially receiving Ozdemir with little skepticism, Indiana legislators recently had begun expressing doubts about the plan.

"I have the sense that people in both parties share my fears we’re taking on a high-risk proposition,” said Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis.

Long also said in his press briefing that it probably wasn't a good idea to address stadium funding in a non-budget year for the legislature.

The team plans to play its first two seasons in Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI campus. Its inaugural season kicks off in April.


  • Soccer Stadium
    The only place a soccer stadium makes sense with enough area draw to fill the stadium is the International Market Place (formerly Lafayette Square).
  • Bad Math
    If Ersal is this bad at math, wonder how good he is at math on his other subsidized projects?
  • Doesn't make sense
    In my city of Seattle, the Sounders (MLS) team play games at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks (NFL) also play games at the same venue. CenturyLink Field holds tons of other events all the time. Actually the stadium is one of the most successful in all of MLS based on the amount of tickets it sells and often a sell out crowd. Why this guy can't play at LOS, and work with Ursay and the city to figure this out, doesn't make sense. To me, using LOS will make this not only better, but also adds more value to LOS.
  • Do The Tax, But Give It To The Arts.
    If there's going to be some kind of tax on sporting/venue event tickets, the proceeds need to go to something more meaningful than a stadium we don't need. Rather than using public money to bolster private ventures like sports teams, take that tax money (a % or flat amount from every Pacers, Fever, Indians, Colts, Indy Eleven, IMS, SuperFun Cricket time, etc.) and earmark it specifically for arts and other not-for-profits that are so important to the culture and fabric of our community. The city spent more to bid for the SuperBowl than it gives to the Indianapolis Symphony in support in 10 years (give or take). That's a real shame.
  • Just Say No
    This clown is the proverbial last straw. Indiana's entire marketing pitch is that we're better than Illinois. Not really and not all that much. Is there anyone in this state with the courage to say no to a millionaire? Buehler? Buehler?
  • The Indians
    That is why my favorite sports team in Indy is the Indianapolis Indians. They pull their own weight. It is run by good people who define the word class. They just do what they do, day in and day out. This is a team that should sell out every game.
  • Sad.
    It's sad that the legislature spent any time on this unproven soccer team/business. I don't believe his donations to campaigns affect they're votes. He obviously know the system since his company reaps $$$ from state contracts...
  • Insulting Basic Intelligence
    Here's what really ticks me off about Eleven owner Ersal and this whole proposal: 1) By floating his RIDICULOUS projections for revenues and tax benefits, he assumes that EVERYONE is too stupid to call him out on it; 2) He was able to convince a committee of fools in our state government to give his lie a preliminary pass (by overwhelming count) and waste time (and our money) on it; (it pays to contribute); 3) He refuses to address the reality that he has been exposed on these CRAZY projections, and won't give ANY details on where he came up with his projections. This crap affects both the CITY and the STATE, and if you reside in either, you should be offended by the Eleven's assumption that you are too stupid to call them out. BTW, I am a soccer fan and look forward to seeing them play in CARROLL STADIUM. Will there be some Sun King brew available??
  • too soon
    I look forward to supporting the team but I am surprised that the owner would have the gall to push for a publicly financed stadium before a single game has been played. If the team proves that they exceed the capacity of Carroll Stadium for a couple of years then we can have a realistic conversation about upgrading their facilities. At this point the Indy 11 should be thankful that they have a place to play at all.
  • Hope Live Nation Deal Is Better Than This Flawed Deal
    Live Nation & the White River State Park Commission better finalize that $10 million x 5 upgrade deal on a permanent outdoor stadium on "The Lawn" before these folks come back with a restructured deal that works.
  • Plat it again Sam
    Ozdemir sold the city a "pig in the poke" on the Broad Ripple parking. He OWNED the poke(ground). Now Ballard's buddy want more tax dollars. IUPUI stadium needs help so kill two birds.
  • Stadium
    I am a huge soccer fan and have Eleven season tickets, but this whole episode with the stadium has really turned me off on the team. The more I read about the owner, the more I dislike him. Even the Colts and Pacers had to prove their viability prior to getting their stadium deals.
  • More Analysis Needed
    Perhaps a centrally located multi-use stadium would be a better solution. However, an objective analysis needs to be made first regarding potential locations, types of activities (other than soccer) that could use the stadium, facility costs, and projected revenues based on experiences of other MLS soccer teams. If the city funds such a stadium, it should avoid another give-away arrangement like the one it has with the Colts. As a taxpayer, I no longer want to help fund the interests of private sector businesses. BTW, was this stadium ever part of an Indianapolis strategic plan or just another knee-jerk reaction to a sports facility?
  • Mostly BS
    Yeah, Most of this guys statements were pie in the sky forecasts. Simple math shows that revenue can't be generated. The thing he isn't lying about is the state of Carroll Stadium. Most of you saying CArroll is just fine. Will be using Port-o-potties. The locker rooms don't have functioning heat/AC and some of them don't have running water or toilets. Seat benches are rusting and crumbling. No ticket or concession stands area, large amount of seating to be added. Electrical outlets are sparse and electrical rework will need to be done for the equipment that needs to be used. The list goes on....However, I'm still a fan of using State Funds and his funds of EXPANDING and UPGRADING Carroll stadium to meet the future needs of this and other events for IUPUI. This makes the most sense. He just can't build his village he wants around it with a new stadium.
  • Whew
    Score one for the taxpayers
  • FINALLY!! Some truth and sanity...
    I agree that it's a joke that this proposal got this much run. Indy Eleven should be required to put up a 5-year track record at Carroll Stadium, and then if the owner wants a new stadium, he can put up personal guarantees for the financing!! Carroll Stadium will work just fine, the Eleven can make improvements there.....
    Redevelop the IUPUI stadium which needs help OR let Carmel taxpayers pay for a stadium in their county.
  • Embarrassing it got this far
    Portland spent $31M to retro fit a baseball stadium for an MLS team (not low level like Eleven) and the team owner was on the hook for overages (and he wasn't the builder). The analaogy ownership used of having an NBA team play in a High School arena was laughable as well. Eleven is far from NBA level and last I saw, IUPUI facility is better than HS stadiums. Everything this guy said was full of it. I thought I was watching a real life version of the Simpsons episode about monorails for a bit.....be careful...
  • Carmel Lol
    Yeah, Carmel is the best place for it. No one without a car would be able to attend, it would take over an hour for people on the Southside to get to a game, and there are few hotels in the area for the other proposed events in the stadium. Carmel wouldn't even want this stadium anyway. They enjoy the stadiums being Downtown because they have the most buying power to attend professional sporting events and still get away with providing minimal tax contributions to the stadiums themselves.
  • Ersal Ozdemir
    Does this man have no shame?? He continues to stand behind his fraudulent revenue numbers even though they have been shown to be flat out lies by multiple sources. Not very many business people disgust me. The way this man has used the Indianapolis treasury as his own disgusts me.
  • Soccer Stadium Should Wait
    I think the Indy Eleven Team Owner should wait another year to try and sell the stadium in any event, as the first year will give an significant indication of the fan support. Then, assuming that the fans do turn out, I'm sure that the legislature will be an easier sell.
  • Indy Star
    The Indianapolis Star has decided to stop reprinting Indy Eleven press releases and nicely added this passage to their story on the same topic: "Ozdemir and his company, Keystone Construction, frequently win public contracts, which have included road projects and renovations at the Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. He, his company, and its executives are also frequent donors to Republican candidates and causes. Ozdemir, the company, and its executives have contributed more than $100,000 over the past 10 years."
  • No way!
    Build it in Carmel? No way! Carmel cops are the worst in the world. If you're not blonde or blue eyes, forget it. You're sunked!
  • built in carmel
    Build it in Carmel, this would be a major boon for the North side, sponsorship by companies on the North side and access would be great, attendance would be a sellout. Downtown Indinapolis is not the place for it, how about off Keystonein Carmel or in Fishers area. Build it in spite of Indianapolis and the fans will be in the Northside area.
    • Build it in Carmel
      Best bet
    • Good
      As our roads are crumbling from the weather. The schools are short money for buses for the kids. It seems a good idea to wait on the soccer stadium. Let's get what need before what we want. Let's see if the market is big enough to bring the people to the stadium. I love soccer but not at the price of my childs schooling or getting the basic road fixed.

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