Indy Eleven downplays Broad Ripple High School as potential stadium site

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Broad Ripple high School (IBJ file photo)

The Indy Eleven has expressed interest in the former Broad Ripple High School site as a potential location for its proposed stadium development, but the team tapped the brakes on that possibility Friday, noting it is continuing to evaluate multiple options.

The professional soccer team on Nov. 13 sent a letter to Indianapolis Public Schools to share its interest in the 16.5-acre property, which has been vacant since the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

However, a project representative called a Friday report by The Indianapolis Star on the Broad Ripple site “premature,” and said it had not zeroed in on any location for its proposed $550 million Eleven Park venture. The project, which includes a 20,000-seat stadium, apartments, office and retail buildings and a hotel, was first reported Thursday by IBJ.

"Despite premature media reports, Keystone Group remains in the evaluation phase with regards to the eventual site of Eleven Park …,” Tim Phelps, a spokesman for the developer, said in a written statement. “We are evaluating multiple sites in Indianapolis and have no further comment on any site that has previously been or is currently under consideration for Eleven Park."

The letter, sent by Ersal Ozdemir, owner of the Indy Eleven and the Indianapolis development and construction firm Keystone Group, outlines the team’s interest in replacing the school with Eleven Park, either through a purchase of the site or a long-term lease.

The Broad Ripple Village Association approached the Indy Eleven about building the project on the school site, Ozdemir's one-page letter said. 

In the letter, Ozdemir expressed interest in moving forward with the project on the site while retaining the 1,000-seat performing arts center formerly used by the school, as well as bringing in a public school adjacent to the auditorium.

The stadium, per Ozdemir’s proposal, would be owned by the Capital Improvement Board while the rest of the development would be owned by the development and investment group involved in the project. Members of that development group (other than Keystone) have not been announced.

He said that two schools had expressed interest in being near the development, but did not share their identities in the letter.

In a written statement, IPS said no offer was made for the building, and that any purchase would go through a public process after the completion of a market analysis, which is ongoing.

"While we can confirm that Keystone Construction sent a letter of interest to Indianapolis Public Schools, we can also confirm no offer was made,” the district said. “All dispositions of IPS properties are determined by a public and transparent process.”

Ozdemir said this week that multiple sites, including several in the downtown area, are under consideration for the stadium, but he repeatedly declined to share where those might be. He said a site is expected to be announced in the coming weeks or months.

Site selection is expected to play a significant role in determining whether the project, designed as a public-private partnership, ultimately receives approval from city officials.

Leaders in Broad Ripple have expressed a willingness to hear more about the proposal.

The Broad Ripple Village Association, in a statement, said it would like to see a continued use of the site for public education and gathering areas.

“If IPS and Indy Eleven indicate a willingness to move forward on a Broad Ripple stadium proposal, BRVA would advocate strongly for a commitment to scholastic and civic-minded components and would re-engage citizens to seek the best possible outcome for our community,” the statement said.

City-County Councilor Colleen Fanning, who represents Dictrict 2, which includes Broad Ripple, said in a separate statement that Eleven Park would present “an opportunity to do something very special with the redevelopment” of the high school that could have a long-term impact.

Fanning, who also is executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association, encouraged the involvement of the community—something Ozdemir said he was committed to, regardless of location—if the project were to move forward in the Broad Ripple area.

“Community awareness and discussion must be part of any process to redevelop BRHS, and if the idea progresses, I will work to ensure the community is involved,” she said. “In the meantime, I will continue to reference interested parties to IPS in the hope they will proceed with greater urgency.”

If the project were to locate in Broad Ripple, existing infrastructure could prove troublesome. The area isn’t near a major highway, and residents have previously expressed concerns about traffic congestion at certain times of day.

It is unclear how much property would be needed for the entire Eleven Park development. The team has declined to share that information.

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