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Well-known Indianapolis developer launching pro soccer team

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A prominent local developer has big plans to bring professional soccer to Indianapolis.

Keystone Group President Ersal Ozdemir is expected to unveil a big part of his plan at a press conference at the JW Marriott Wednesday. He's scheduled to be joined by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Indianapolis Deputy Mayor Deron Kintner.
 
Ozdemir said he will reveal plans to launch a team in the North American Soccer League—the top feeder league to Major League Soccer—in 2014.
 
He has hired the former founding general manager of the MLS’s Chicago Fire, Peter Wilt, to lead the initiative and is looking for investors to defray start-up and operational costs. IBJ first reported on the effort in November.

Ozdemir is looking for patient investors.

“The people that get in have to realize they’re going to lose money for some time,” he said. “We want to build this franchise the right way. This is a long-term investment, a community investment.”

Ozdemir also wants investors to be actively involved in the franchise.

“We’re looking for more than investors to just write a check,” he said.

Ozdemir, 38, is asking local residents via the website indyprosoccer.com to suggest colors and a name for the fledgling franchise. The contest to name the team will run through mid-March, and the team’s name will be announced during the third week of March.

Though several professional soccer teams here have failed, the local developer thinks the time is right for professional soccer to prosper in central Indiana.

“I thought with the evolution of soccer here, this would be a good time to have a professional team,” Ozdemir said. “The popularity of the sport is really growing in Indiana and the recent [2018 and 2022] World Cup bid got us more engaged.

“Soccer is an international sport, and Indianapolis is an increasingly international city. So I think the time could be right,” he added.

Ozdemir, a Turkish native who came to Indiana in 1993 to attend Purdue University, said he started meeting three years ago with local officials, soccer supporters and executives from the NASL to gauge the feasibility of launching an Indianapolis team. To see his vision through, he hired Wilt Oct. 1.

“The depth of the [central Indiana] soccer community has exceeded my expectations,” said Wilt, a Milwaukee resident. “I have every reason to believe a team will succeed here.”

Ozdemir declined to divulge start-up costs, but those familiar with the NASL said it would cost about $2 million to launch the team, and $2 million to $4 million annually to operate the franchise.

Each NASL team has about 25 players, with 18 in uniform on game day. While Ozdemir said the team’s roster would have an international makeup, he expects to find many of the team’s players from the area. An additional eight to 12 people will be needed to run the team’s front office, Wilt said, with the size of that staff growing to 50 when the operation matures.

The team would have 15 home games a year with individual tickets ranging from $10 to $30. Season tickets would be $135 to $390. Club seats and suites would be an additional charge.

“As we build this, it’s really important that we don’t price anyone out,” Wilt said. “But this will be a quality product and we don’t want to cheapen it or give it away.”

The NASL season runs from March to November, with most games played on Saturday nights.

The team would play at least its first two seasons at the IUPUI track and soccer stadium. By 2017, Ozdemir hopes to have an 8,000- to 10,000-seat soccer stadium built. His ideal location would be downtown, and he said the stadium could be part of a larger development.

Ozdemir, who is known for developing Sophia Square in Carmel and renovating the Majestic Building downtown as well as the ongoing parking garage project in Broad Ripple, said it’s too early to say what might be in the development.

It’s important that the open-air stadium be expandable up to 22,000 seats to accommodate the growth of the team's fan base, Ozdemir said.

The franchise, which would be the 12th in the NASL, could have started play this year, but Ozdemir said he wanted to spend a full year “building the infrastructure and building the outreach of the team.”

Fielding an NASL team is just the first part of a multi-phase business plan that could include graduating the team to the MLS.

“Having an MLS team in Indianapolis is not beyond reason,” Wilt said. “There’s an appetite for soccer in Indianapolis that wasn’t there 10 or even five years ago.”

Ozdemir’s effort follows others that were led by groups with a passion for the sport, but little financial backing. Some previous soccer team owners also had big ideas and even a modicum of short-term success before fizzling out.

Most notably, owners of the Indianapolis-based Indiana Blast—which competed in the United Soccer League’s D-3 Pro League, A-League and USL Premier Development League from 1997-2004—had grand plans of opening a 10,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Lawrence. They even had an option on land near Fort Benjamin Harrison.

For a time, the team had a solid following, attracting more than 3,000 fans to some games. But eventually, the team ran out of momentum and the family ownership ran out of cash.

But a deep-pocketed businessman like Ozdemir, who has become a powerhouse developer in Indianapoils, is the type of investor that could give the effort instant credibility, sports marketers said.
 

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  • Real Football in the states!
    Sign me up for this team! I'm more than happy to ensure championships for Indy! I'm a goalkeeper looking for a club, I want to bring the gold to Indy and be rated top club in the USA, lets make this happen!
  • Two Things
    #1 - I am shocked there is money in politics. #2 - There is a reasonably good chance that in the next 100-150 years, Soccer will become one of the most popular sports in the country. If you personally find it boring, that's fine, but it doesn't mean you are part of the future either.
  • Great piece from Advance Indiana - Keep the IBJ honest
    More Pieces Of Ozdemir's Publicly-Financed Soccer Stadium Falling Into Place Make no mistake about it, folks. With this past week's announcement by Ersal Ozdemir that he has landed a North American Soccer League franchise for Indianapolis that will commence with the 2014 season, there is another publicly-financed stadium on the horizon for Indianapolis taxpayers. Sure, the Mayor and the CIB are all denying it, but we've become all too accustomed to their Texas two-stepping ways when it comes to their endless and creative ways of finding reasons to continue pouring billions of dollars into the public support of professional sports teams as the end-all, be-all when it comes to the the economic development future of Indianapolis. For the public though, there's much more to worry about than just another publicly-financed stadium. We're going to start with the Indianapolis Business Journal's publisher, Mickey Maurer, who lives next door to Ozdemir in a gated Carmel community and has decided to throw his weight behind the project. A little more than a year ago, Maurer began using his publication to bolster Ozdemir's image as a highly successful construction and real estate developer. The average person knew little about Ozdemir other than he was one of many persons Maurer's IBJ had previously anointed under its annual ritual of naming "40 under 40" persons to be watched in Indianapolis until Maurer launched this public relations campaign on his behalf . The introductory story emphasized Ozdemir's political influence and noted that he met regularly with Mayor Greg Ballard and his top staffers to discuss ideas. At one point in the story, the reporter described Ozdemir as a financially-sound "rising star" and "powerhouse developer" who has "never missed a loan payment." That claim seemed a bit odd coming from a publication owned by a mega-millionaire banker/businessman who seems to make it his business to know everyone else' personal business matters, particularly people who he considers competitors. I noted at the time a 2010 court decision, which could not have gone unnoticed by Maurer, finding that a company owned by Ozdemir was liable for $1.2 million it failed to pay to subcontractors for work they performed on several public library construction projects awarded to his company. Court records in Hamilton County also revealed that Ozdemir was sued for foreclosure by two different mortgage lenders in the past, and that he was a defendant in several other debt collection matters. Last November, the IBJ began laying the groundwork for a public relations campaign to sell the City on a professional soccer team. In an article titled, "Executive backing push to launch pro soccer team," the IBJ revealed that Ozdemir was quietly putting together an investment group to launch a professional soccer team in Indianapolis. "A deep-pocketed businessman like Ozdemir is the type of investor that could give the effort instant credibility," the IBJ informed us. The IBJ wanted us to know that Mayor Greg Ballard, who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Ozdemir, was fully supportive of the push. "Mayor Greg Ballard has made it a high priority to expand our presence in international sports, and soccer is one of the most popular sports in the worlds," Marc Lotter, the mayor's communications director told the IBJ. Ballard has been very generous in helping out Ozdemir with city taxpayer dollars. He gave his Keystone Construction nearly $6.5 million to build a new mixed use parking garage project in Broad Ripple, awarded his company the role of construction manager for the ambitious city-financed City Way project and has awarded him other public contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. Ozdemir has also accompanied Ballard on at least one of many overseas junkets he's taken since becoming mayor. In 2009, Ozdemir traveled with Ballard and a small delegation on a 9-day junket to the U.K and Germany. This past week, the IBJ would be the first to break the story on Ozdemir acquiring his professional soccer team franchise and tell us that he planned to officially launch the yet-to-be named soccer team at IUPUI's track and field facility until a permanent stadium could be built at another location downtown. The IBJ continued with its meme that Ozdemir was a "deep-pocketed investor" with the gravitas to pull off such a deal. In the latest edition of the IBJ, we learn that Ozdemir is eying two potential downtown locations. The prime location for Ozdemir's 8,000-10,000-seat soccer stadium the IBJ tells us is the 8-acre site of the former Market Square Arena, one of the most valuable vacant downtown real estate parcels. The IBJ informs us that the Market Street site would prove to be the "more costly" of two potential sites Ozdemir may be considering, as if it believes the City would not simply give the land to him to develop a soccer stadium as we've seen happen time and time again in recent years with respect to private real estate development city officials deemed worthy of a public investment. A politically-connected developer, Mike Wells, tells the IBJ the deal would likely "be done in conjunction with other developments to make it sustainable." Wells notes the difficulty Ozdemir would find in getting a bank to loan him money. "A soccer stadium isn't worth much to a bank," Wells said. "The bank would value the land as if the soccer stadium weren't there." (emphasis added) So if a bank won't loan him the money, who will? And if he has such deep pockets, why does he need a loan? Deputy Mayor Deron Kitner and Gov. Mike Pence showed up at a public announcement this week to laud Ozdemir for landing the new soccer franchise. Mayor Ballard was on another out-of-town junket in Detroit to push the use of electric automobiles. Kintner told the IBJ a soccer team was needed if Indianapolis wanted to be a "world class city." City officials claim Mayor Ballard has not yet been approached by Ozdemir about public financial support for a new stadium, but that's a bit hard to swallow. There is a key link between Ozdemir and Ballard that cannot be overlooked. Ozdemir hired Ballard's first chief of staff, Paul Okeson, to work for his construction company. Okeson quickly helped Ozdemir land the $6.5 million for the Broad Ripple parking garage project and control of the purse strings for the City Way project. Ballard appointed Okeson to serve on the Capital Improvement Board right after he left the administration to work for Ozdemir. During Okeson's term on the board, the CIB briefly entertained proposals from private companies to manage the CIB's facilities, including the convention center, Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse. Ozdemir's Keystone Construction partnered with CB Richard Ellis and John Bales' Venture Real Estate in submitting a proposal to manage the facilities. After the CIB made the list of respondents to its privatization effort public, this blog immediately demanded Okeson's resignation from the CIB, noting his obvious conflict of interest. One of the partners in the proposal submitted by Keystone Construction, John Bales, was later indicted along with two other business associates, for defrauding the state of Indiana while acting as its exclusive real estate leasing agent regarding the purchase of a building in Elkhart, Indiana in which he held a blind interest that was subsequently leased to the Department of Child Services. One of the indicted, Paul Page, recently agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in the government's prosecution of Bales and one of Page's other business partners. Former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, another partner in the Elkhart real estate deal, is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's office in Indianapolis as part of that investigation according to local news reports. The CIB quietly dropped the privatization move without much public explanation, although the CIB has recently discussed the possibility of hiring a private operator to run Banker's Life Fieldhouse instead of paying tens of millions of dollars to the Pacers to manage it. As a CIB board member, Okeson played a key role in negotiating a bail-out deal for the CIB, which resulted in a higher hotel tax, additional subsidies from the state of Indiana and a short-term loan from the state. Soon after the deal was inked, the CIB announced it was awarding $33.5 million to the Pacers in additional subsidies as part of a 3-year deal. More recently, the CIB provided the Pacers another $10 million as part of a one-year extension of its earlier deal. Despite claims by CIB officials it desperately needed the state bailout money to avoid defaulting on its long-term debt obligations, the CIB is now sitting on a $65 million cash balance, even after giving $43.5 million to Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers. Yet it's seeking permission from the Indianapolis City-County Council to enact two new tax increases on admissions and car rentals that will generate a combined $6.7 million annually, money it claims it needs for operations, not debt service. CIB President Ann Lathrop tells the IBJ that while she is aware of the planned soccer franchise, she has not pondered CIB involvement in it. I can assure you that she has indeed been involved in private discussions on this matter, along with other CIB board members and officials. I would remind people that the CIB began acquiring land for the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium many years before it announced plans to build a new stadium. Whenever officials were asked why they were buying parcels at the site of the current stadium, it would always claim the CIB was positioning itself for future expansion of the convention center. While it was true the land acquisition was part of a plan to expand the convention center, the public was left in the dark about the plan to tear down the RCA Dome for the convention center and use the newly-acquired land for construction of a new $750 million stadium financed by a new regional tax on food and beverages. Things are never as they appear when it comes to the CIB. Interestingly, the Indiana Pacers are very supportive of the prospective addition of yet another professional sports team despite the potential competition it poses for ticket sales to its games. "Drawing another 150,000 to 200,000 people downtown in the summer time would be fantastic for our hospitality industry, downtown retailers and restaurants and for the overall strength of downtown," said Pacers President Jim Morris. Of course, billionaire Herb Simon's Simon Property Group operates Circle Centre Mall downtown and controls parking garages that could benefit from the added revenues from attendance at more sporting events downtown. The Indianapolis Indians, whose games would overlap with the soccer team's season, while not expressing an official opinion on the matter, is less than enthusiastic about the competition from a professional soccer team. The Indians' Chairman Max Schumacher has expressed concern in the past that the local sports market is being stretched too thin. If anyone has any more information on any financial ties between Maurer and Ozdemir, I would appreciate hearing from you. In addition to being his next door neighbor and his number one fan, a company controlled by Maurer's son, Todd Maurer, Halakar Properties, contracted with Ozdemir's Keystone Construction to build a 10-story luxury condominium building at 3 Mass Ave. You can bet Maurer's National Bank of Indianapolis won't be risking any of its money on the construction of Ozdemir's soccer stadium. We're curious to know why Maurer continues to insist on representing Ozdemir as someone with deep pockets. When I think of people locally with deep pockets, I think of business people like Maurer, the Simons, the Eugene Glick family, Forest Lucas, Bloomington's Cook family or Merrillville's Dean White. Ozdemir is a relatively new immigrant to the U.S. from Turkey in an industry that has seen its share of ups and downs over the past decade during which he's even been a factor. He could not be rolling in money from profits he's made from his known business activities, even with all the generous public subsidies he's received from the palms of the politicians he's greased, and if he is, inquiring minds want to know from where the money came. As a cautionary note to the leery, Chicago's Tony Rezko, an immigrant from Syria, popped up on the scene in Chicago in the 1990s and quickly emerged as a "deep-pocketed" real estate developer, who had all kinds of money to throw around to the politicians. He's now completely broke and sitting in a federal prison cell for the next decade after he was convicted on various public corruption charges, taking down a sitting governor with him. We learn from John Shaw, a former senior official in the Defense and State Departments, that Nadhmi Auchi, a billionaire former arms merchant for Iraq's Saddam Hussein, funneled more than $200 million through businesses operated by Rezko to spread around on business deals with political insiders in Chicago and to pander influence with Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, Illinois' former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and future president and then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, among others. Rezko was even seeking support from those same Illinois officials on the construction of a training facility that he planned to build in Illinois to train Iraqi security officials after winning a $50 million contract from the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity at the time he was indicted by federal prosecutors. Against the Rezko backdrop, who did Ozdemir tell the IBJ was his mentor when he first got his start in business in Indianapolis a little more than a decade ago? That would be Beurt SerVaas, wealthy businessman, former City-County Council President and an ex-OSS officer with strong ties to the CIA. SerVaas' Bridgeport Brass Co. in the late 1980s contracted with Hussein's government to build a $40 million factory for the Iraqi government that it said was to be used for metal recycling but instead was used to produce artillery shells and gun cartridges. After the first Gulf War following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, SerVaas testified before Congress that he had no knowledge the factory would be used to produce ammunition, believing it was going to be used for non-military purposes. And who can forget the most infamous person to whom SerVaas served as a mentor? I'm talking about his former son-in-law, convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham, who spread over $1 million around to Indiana politicians before he was finally nailed for defrauding more than $200 million out of small Ohio investors through his Fair Finance company. Always follow the money, folks. It almost always provides the answers for which you are looking and often confirms your worst suspicions.
  • Taxpayers WILL lose
    Government never makes a profit on anything. This has already been decided only formalities remain. Pence is not stupid which means he is in "the game" or he would be nowhere near this project. Here is how it will go down: - in 3-4 years public funding will be secured - Keystone Corp will be general contractor - Ozdemir and his backers will make $75 million on the project - like Kuntz Stadium, Toyota Park and Westfield Park this venture will never make money - taxpayers will be stuck
  • Investor=Taxpayer
    I'm all for bringing the beautiful game to Indianapolis, but whenever Mr. Ozdemir speaks of "patient investors" he is always, always, ALWAYS, referring to taxpayers.
    • This is rich
      The moment Ersal asks for public money I will protest forever. Go use Westfield's facility.
    • Hockey, Anyone?
      If a third rate sport is to come to town and have 'professional' aspirations, please God do not let it be soccer. Yes its the 'beautiful' (and boring) sport that is adorned by billions across the globe but just not here in America, not in Indiana, and surely not in Indianapolis. Just because our kids like to get out on the field and kick each other's shins for a couple of years does not make soccer a successful trend in this region. They grow up and enjoy real sports and physical domination over an opponent, not a bunch of grown men lightly jogging for 90 minutes. IF (with a capital I and a capital F) any more sports with professional aspirations come to town, at least make it hockey. Despite the labor issues they had this season and the lack of northern exposure following in Indiana, hockey is at least partly entertaining with the fast pace play, brutal hits, and Russian player names that no one can pronounce. Most likely, the taxpayers will be on the receiving end of this deal in order to finance, maintain, sustain, and subsidize this dream to bring the sport to Indianapolis. If we are having to be stuck with our pockets turned out, at least bring a physical, brutal, nasty sport like hockey to town over soccer. At least we can get drunk, bang on the plexi glass, and scream while imagining the next person who gets leveled on the ice is a soccer fan.
    • Has anyone asked the MLS
      Before jumping to the conclusion that Indy is on its way to an MLS team, perhaps someone should check with the MLS to see what their plans are. Right now Queens, NY is on tap as the next expansion team, Then, Atlanta, Carolina, Orlando, Tampa, San Diego, Minneapolis & Miami all have expressed interest. But the league is moving slowly with expansion. Could be more than 12 years for Indy to come up. And they stadium that holds at least 20,000 and will have to average minimum 15,000 per game. Good luck with that.
    • just the facts
      All of the cities you mention are larger than Indy except Salt Lake City.
      • Do the GB Packers model
        If Ozdemir is as altruistic as he is claiming to be about his desire to bring the beautiful game to Indy he should be willing to follow the same model as the Green Bay Packers: non-profit, community-owned professional sports team. We soccer fans invest directly and share in its ownership, decision-making and glory. Taxpayers risk nothing.
      • Um, has anyone checked Ersal's bonding history?
        How does someone come to Indianapolis and get major contracts after allegedlyhaving his bonding pulled? Feel free to pull his alleged list of lawsuits and victims as recently as when? Case Number Style Filed/Location Type/Status 29C01-0211-MF-001303 Mortgage Electronic vs. Ersal Ozdemir 11/08/2002 Hamilton Circuit Courts MF - Mortgage Foreclosure Decided 29C01-0301-CB-000446 01/30/2003 Hamilton Circuit Courts CB - Foreign Judgment Decided 29C01-0405-CB-002036 05/14/2004 Hamilton Circuit Courts CB - Foreign Judgment Decided 29D05-0405-CC-000822 City Of Carmel vs. Ersal Ozdemir 05/17/2004 Hamilton Superior Court 5 CC - Civil Collection Decided 29D02-0406-MF-000549 Success Enterprises Llc vs. Ersal Ozdemir 06/22/2004 Hamilton Superior Court 2 MF - Mortgage Foreclosure Decided 29D04-0408-SC-001235 Providian National Bank vs. Huseyin Ozdemir 08/19/2004 Hamilton Superior Court 4 SC - Small Claims Decided 29C01-0409-CC-001089 National Check Bureau Inc vs. Ersal Ozdemir 09/07/2004 Hamilton Circuit Courts CC - Civil Collection Decided 29C01-0501-CC-000070 Forward Properties vs. Huseyin Ozdemir 01/14/2005 Hamilton Circuit Courts CC - Civil Collection Decided 49K03-0806-SC-003606 Cemal Ozdemir vs. Lasonda Carter 06/13/2008 Marion County - Lawrence Township SC - Small Claims Decided 49K03-1009-SC-004873 Cemal Ozdemir vs. Tawana Williams 09/13/2010 Marion County - Lawrence Township SC - Small Claims Decided 49K09-1110-SC-005277 THOMAS WISLER,STACY WISLER vs. CEMAL OZDEMIR 10/18/2011 Marion County - Franklin Township SC - Small Claims Decided
      • ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
        Ummmmm. Soccer is not popular anywhere in the U.S. Might as well donate that money to United Way or something
        • Entertainment Is Not Education Or Infrastructure
          Marshall, your glib comments overlook a major difference between taxpayer supported schools and roads and taxpayer supported entertainment. Mindless entertainment (and even though I like soccer, it is exactly just that) is not necessary to maintain a functioning society. Paved roads and public education; however, are found in just about any functioning and civilized society. Also, even if you believe government should fund stupid entertainment for the dumb masses; hopefully, you also believe there should be funding priorities, and that when a government cannot properly fund its parks, schools, and roads, then it should not be taking tax money away from these basic services and amenities to fund entertainment. If you want to see a soccer game, pay for it yourself, or if you want to push government funding of a soccer, then get the city to impose yet another tax increase increase of the admission tax imposed on ticket buyers (one above and beyond the one currently planned), and then that tax money, and ONLY that tax money, may go to help fund a city soccer team. Perhaps, if more people moaned a little louder, we would not have federal and local government finances in such an abysmal state, and we would also have adequately funded vital public services.
        • Taxpayers will pay
          1. Needs investors, 2. Will lose money, 3. Ballard contributor, This can only mean that Indianapolis taxpayers will losing money.
        • Yes!
          I'm glad to see that positive, supportive comments on here outweigh the negative and conspiracy theorists that are always griping about tax investment. I like the idea of pro soccer in Indianapolis and an eventual new stadium in Indianapolis. I don't even care if there is an investment on the part of the city / state involved. I don't own a car or have children but I'm not moaning that my taxes are used to build and maintain roads for your vehicles or helping to finance the schools you send your children to.
          • Yes
            I think this would be a great move forward for Indianapolis. I also agree with Joe's comment that using an existing stadium in the start-up phase of the team makes sense. When the support has reached a critical mass, then build a new stadium. A progressive stadium with an efficient modern design like many European stadiums. Not another fieldhouse, please!
          • Be Careful
            Micah, when has Ozdemir ever pursued anything in this city without getting public dollars? I can't recall it ever happening. I have no problem with professional soccer being here, but the problem is you can bet your bottom dollar that we taxpayers will be footing the bill just like we do on all professional sports. I totally agree with Pete that Pence needs to be very careful about doing a press conference with this gentlemen.
          • Oh No! Soccer in 'mericuh?
            Such pessimism! Nowhere does the man say anything about asking for tax dollars; like many other pro soccer clubs, he's looking to set up an investor team (usually with a celebrity or two) rather than go the sole-owner route. And who cares if you will watch soccer or not; I don't care much for NASCAR, but we keep having those races around here too. The point is that Indy is known for being a sports city, and there's plenty of room for more. If you don't want to watch, go somewhere else. But for those of us who do love soccer, let us enjoy the attention of the press that we so rarely get to enjoy.
          • The joke...
            will be on all of us when this guy convinces City and/or State leaders to subsidize this venture. I really doubt that he's willing to lose money for several years. The most likely of those "patient investors" will likely be the CIB, i.e. the taxpayers.
          • re: Won't Work in Indy
            I think you should look at some of the other cities with successful MLS teams. Many are not as large as Indianapolis and they have a great following. Denver Kansas City Columbus Salt Lake City Portland Not only that, but soccer stadiums are not nearly as expensive as NFL and NBA venues (at least, not in America). A $20M stadium would be plenty for this team and would allow room for growth in the MLS.
            • Won't Work in Indy
              I hope Pence has done his homework on this guy. A press conference this early in his administration touting some pie in the sky dream is probably not a great idea. I like Ozdemir's comment that he is looking for "patient investors". Translation, we are going to lose money for 5-7 years and then fold like our predecessors. I don't know much about this guy but if he is willing to lose $2 million a year he better have about $50 million in cash laying around. My guess is he is no Mark Cuban. I don't think there is room for a professional soccer team in a town the size of Indy. I have heard for years (like 30) that soccer will take over as the biggest sport in America. That hasn't happened, in fact it is no where close. I compare it to the metric system that I had to learn in 5th grade, which was about 35 years ago, they said it was coming and I am still waiting. Soccer is boring to watch compared to any other major sport. You hear basically nothing about college soccer and we have one of the best teams in the country in Bloomington. I know I won't go. A fool and their money soon part.
              • Stadium
                Why not just use the IU football stadium in Bloomington...not like they need it anyways.
              • No need for a new stadium!
                I love the idea of a pro soccer team here. I think it is truly a missing link in our collections of entertainment, but we dont need another stadium. If you truly want a fan base and want to keep prices "affordable", use an existing venue. Rework Carroll Stadium, figure a layout in LOS, collaborate with the Pepsi Collesium.......WE DONT NEED ANOTHER STADIUM!
              • More Money From Taxpayers?
                Folks Ozdemir is the same gentlemen who has been contributing large amounts of money to the Ballard campaign and getting scores of handouts including the Broad Ripple Parking Garage. Keystone isn't paying a dime for the garage, but the company gets all the revenue and full ownership. We taxpayers get nothing. Anyone who thinks Ozdemir isn't going to demand that we taxpayers build him this downtown soccer stadium, well think again. Once again it will be taxpayers getting the short end of the stick.
              • Upside?
                Investor=Taxpayer "The people are going to lose money for a long time" Pretty much what the CIB has done to taxpayers with Lucas...
              • why mls
                This is great news and I'll definitely be singing with the Brickyard Balaton, but I tire of the puffery about one day jumping to the MLS. The MLS and its single entity structure and layer upon layer of parity-inducing regulations is an abomination. Sure there is competition between players, but the clubs are a single entity; thus, there is no competition in the back offices; the competition is illusory. MLS should be capped at 20 so that a proper Div. II can grow. That'll never happen so long as successful teams keep jumping ship. And NASL will always feel like a "tryout" league and it'll never be a stable, strong Div. II.
              • Outstanding!
                This is so great. Can't wait to have pro soccer in Indy/Indiana. This is exactly the sport we need and to start with NASL and build to MLS one day - I'm OVER THE MOON!
              • Great Timing
                I believe the timing is right. Without question, my family and our limited resources will do all we can to support pro soccer in Indianapolis. One key is to reach out to all the great rec leagues and clubs in central indiana. Sign me up to help with that.
              • Good Luck!
                As the last general manager of the pro team the Indianapolis Daredevils, I wish him the best of luck. Pro soccer in the US is always a steep challenge.
              • Racing Indy please
                Racing Indy, if Carlos Bocanegra is going to play for a second division club he might as well come to Indianapolis!
              • Investors?
                I am confused this deep pocketed guy needs investors? Sounds like the slant is to get something from the taxpayers via-a-vie the CIB? He can contribute the $6.5 mill parking garage put up by the taxpayers he skillfully received from Mayor Marine. This will be a BUMPY ride for taxpayers.
              • This is
                Indy will be a great place to showcase a truly international sport - and what a great asset for the City, and for youth. Soccer in Indy will make a positive bold statement about our values. Whether you like Ersal Ozdemir's politics or not, this is the type of visionary civic engagement and investment that we need more of. Best wishes.
              • BYB
                The Brickyard Battalion is firmly behind the vision of the investors and welcome the challenge of building the finest supporters group in the United States. Proud to be associated with this group of leadership. 'Mon the Brickers.

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              1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

              2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

              3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

              4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

              5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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