Former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Jeff Belskus is the new president of the Indy Eleven professional soccer team.
Ersal Ozdemir, owner of the North American Soccer League team, made the announcement Monday afternoon.
Founding Indy Eleven president Peter Wilt will continue as general manager with the club on a consultant basis into the 2016 NASL spring season.
Wilt will be transitioning into a role with sports consulting firm Club 9 Sports to pursue the creation of an NASL team in Chicago.
“We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen the organization while continuing to make strides towards gaining a new home for Indy Eleven and winning championships,” Ozdemir said in a statement. “The addition of someone with Jeff Belskus’ background into our front office is an important part of that continued progress, and I am excited to welcome him on behalf of the Indy Eleven family.”
The Indy Eleven led the NASL in attendance during its first two seasons playing at IUPUI’s track and soccer stadium. The Eleven’s attendance dipped 6.3 percent from its first to its second season, averaging about 9,800 per game last season.
Since the Eleven’s inception, team officials have lobbied for a new downtown stadium but have yet to secure state or local funding for the project.
Wilt told the IBJ late last fall that Eleven officials would continue to pursue a new stadium in the city’s center.
Belskus began his 27-year career with Hulman & Co. and its affiliate, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in 1987. Belskus has served in various roles with Hulman, IMS and other affiliates during his career. A certified CPA, Belskus primarily worked in accounting roles and later as chief financial officer.
He is perhaps best known for his four years as president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He succeeded Tony George in that position.
George was removed from the Speedway’s top job after the Hulman board—which consisted of his three sisters and mother—became upset over continued financial losses at the track and IndyCar Series, which George started in 1996 to compete with the Champ Car series.
In addition to heading up the Speedway, Belskus in late 2012 was also interim chief of the IndyCar Series after the board fired Randy Bernard from that post.
In late 2012, when Mark Miles was named CEO of Hulman & Co.—a position which included overseeing the Speedway and IndyCar Series—Belskus was reassigned to a less public role within the company.
Belskus was born and raised in Terre Haute and attended Indiana State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1981. Jeff and his wife, Debbie, live in Zionsville and have two grown children, John and Kristen.