UPDATE: Health officials reduce Indy Eleven capacity to 2,500 following IBJ story

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Fans in face masks celebrated the return of the Indy Eleven at Lucas Oil Stadium earlier this year. (Image courtesy of the Indy Eleven.)

The Marion County Public Health Department is limiting capacity for Indy Eleven’s remaining home games to 2,500 people, following an IBJ report Tuesday about the inconsistent attendance limits for sporting events at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Indy Eleven, which have not had a hard capacity limit yet this season, have averaged nearly 5,500 fans per game since kicking off at home in July. The Colts announced Sept. 4 an agreement with the health department that limits attendance for at least the first home game—on Sunday—to no more than 2,500 ticketholders.

In a statement to IBJ, the health department said since the Colts are required to have a capacity limit, so too are the Indy Eleven.

“MCPHD recently asked the Indianapolis Colts to limit attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium to 2,500 people, and is extending this same limit of 2,500 spectators to Indy Eleven, who play home games at the same facility,” the statement said. “The trends in COVID-19 data continue to be monitored and may allow changes in the number of spectators that can attend in the future.”

The health department did not say specifically why or how it reached its decision to limit the Eleven’s seating capacity, rather than increase the limit for Colts games.

Unlike the Colts, the Eleven generally have crowds of far below 15,000 people. In fact, its record attendance is 20,251, set last March. In 2019, the Colts drew more than 61,000 fans per game, compared to the Eleven which drew an average of 10,734.

The Eleven’s announced attendance is also often higher than the total number of people who actually attend games, but by how much is not entirely clear. For example, a broadcast of the team’s first game this season appeared to show fewer than half of the nearly 4,800 people who had tickets for the event. (The team and the CIB have declined to share turnstile counts for games since early 2019, despite multiple requests from IBJ.)

In a statement, the Indy Eleven said the reduction to capacity is effective immediately, beginning with Wednesday night’s home game against Louisville City FC. Those two teams played at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 5 and drew more than 6,700 people. The winner of Wednesday’s match would stand alone at first in their group.

This collaborative effort (with the health department) has always included having the flexibility to increase or decrease attendance capacity for our events as warranted by real time data and in concert with guidance from local health officials, the statement said. “Based on local COVID-19 data trends, the Marion County Public Health Department has asked Indy Eleven to not exceed 2,500 spectators at its matches, effective immediately.”

The team has touted its health and safety plan as going “above and beyond” CDC and local health guidelines, and as one of the best in the USL Championship league. In fact, the Indy Eleven franchise was one of the first organizations in Marion County to work with the health department to allow fans at games.

While seating has been limited to the lower bowl—in a socially-distanced configuration—there was never a specific cutoff figure. Practically speaking, the lower bowl with distancing precautions would be able to seat up to 10,000 people.

“We look forward to continuing to work with health officials in the hopes that trends will allow more spectators to attend our remaining games this season,” the statement said.

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34 thoughts on “UPDATE: Health officials reduce Indy Eleven capacity to 2,500 following IBJ story

  1. I don’t think IBJ was advocating harsher restrictions on the Eleven, just pointing out the disparity in the guidelines between the two events and MCPHD’s clueless rationale and decision making. Bottom line, knee jerk, horse s*%t decision by MCPHD. Was this in response to a problem or outbreak from Eleven games? Hell no.

    In the minds of MCPHD and the Mayor, we should consider ourselves “lucky” that there’s going to be a game and hopefully the minions act responsible so they don’t have to go “Full Footloose” on you.

  2. IBJ Thanks for becoming the story and patting yourselves on the back! Way to go you have now become the problem instead of solving anything just try and create more division. You are now officially part of the Media and have your own agenda.

  3. What this shows is a failure to follow the scientific method. If 5500 fans (average) have been attending sports events at Lucas since July and our numbers are currently low in Marion County (they are), then this is relevant (scientific) data that shows that 5500 or MORE should be allowed in Lucas. What we need are public health officials who actually follow the scientific method rather than simply make things up and then bully people.

    1. Patrick O, great point, unfortunately politics has now taken over for science in the Democrat party. Remember, back when President Trump was talking about opening the economy back up (I admit, too aggressively at the time) and the Democrat/shut-downer mantra was “Follow the Science!”? Now, it has been 60-90 days since we have heard that being preached. Why? Because the science, and the Marion County numbers say open back up. IPS has even had to cave and go back to school next month.

  4. Out of the 5,500 fans that have been attending Indy 11 events, how many have had or have COVID19 and if any at all how many admitted to a hospital? Those are the numbers I want to see.
    I do not care about sports at all, I care about the economy and our city/country getting back on it’s feet.

    1. The story says, and reports have said for years, that Indy 11 “attendance” is actually “tickets issued” and far fewer people actually go through the turnstiles…so few that the CIB and team won’t release the actual numbers.


      What’s likely true is that only about 2,500 people have attended the soccer matches. So this is a non-issue.

  5. Scientific method=”a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.” The essence of the scientific method is TESTING your hypotheses. No one in government is following the scientific method. And, please don’t pretend to wring your hands and argue about the “ethics” of exposing people to covid. It’s already out there, and we’re already exposed. Use some science. Get volunteers. Ask one set to attend a movie a day for a week without masks but using social distancing; have another set of volunteers attend a movie a day for a week with masks with no social distancing (e.g., a fairly full theater); have another set of volunteers attend a movie a day for a week with masks and social distancing. Test the volunteers before and every day after for 2 weeks and collect the data. That science would benefit the entire world’s population going forward.

    1. The most logical comment/recommendation I have seen. So logical, in fact, you can guarantee no politician, ever, will employ such a common sense, results-oriented approach. Our loss. Their gain?

  6. Definitely an incorrect response by the Marion County Health Dept. Colts allowable attendance should have been upped to what was permitted for the Indy Eleven. There is no logical basis for a limit of 2,500 in a 67,000 capacity stadium.