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.