A state lawmaker wants to give the Indy Eleven professional soccer team more time to finalize its plans for a dedicated soccer stadium—even as an announcement regarding the planned location for the venue appears imminent.
Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, on Friday filed Senate Bill 385, which would add two years to a 2019 bill that called for a new special tax district—known as a professional sports development area—to be established in Marion County by mid-2022. The bill extends that date to July 1, 2024.
The PSDA would capture taxes spent in a certain geographical area surrounding the stadium to help finance the project. Indy Eleven is required to sign a long-term agreement with the city’s Capital Improvement Board (which also owns and operates the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium) and pay for 20 percent of the stadium construction costs.
The new PSDA would have to be enacted by the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission, but Sandlin’s bill allows the commission additional time—once a deal is struck between the city and the team.
Indy Eleven officials said last week that they plan to announce a location for the proposed $550 million Eleven Park development, which would include a stadium, by the end of March. Team officials have declined to elaborate on the plans.
“Indy Eleven is excited to welcome 2021 and after delays caused by the pandemic we are pushing ahead with plans for Eleven Park,” the team said in a statement. “We plan to announce the location of the new stadium by the end of March. Stay tuned!”
In a statement, CIB Executive Director Andy Mallon said Sandlin’s bill extending the timeline is “ultimately good for the integrity of the project and the economic development it can bring.”
“Large multi-use projects like what Indy Eleven has proposed are complex, even without the added burden created by a pandemic,” Mallon said. “The CIB is looking forward to working with Indy Eleven as plans move forward and is excited about the possibility of a permanent home for soccer in Indianapolis.”
Passed in 2019, Senate Bill 7 included language approving the creation of an additional PSDA in the county, as well as other measures, such as $270 million for renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and an expansion of existing PSDAs.
SB 7 allows up to $9.5 million annually in tax revenues to be captured for up to 32 years to pay off bonds for an outdoor soccer stadium. Sandlin’s bill would mean collections could start either once all requirements are met as part of a deal, or on June 30, 2023—whichever is sooner.
It’s not clear if there are ongoing talks between the city and the franchise. The team is not required to join Major League Soccer for a deal to move forward, as was originally proposed.
For years, the team has eyed various sites in the downtown area, including the former Valspar site west of Lucas Oil Stadium, but it’s not entirely clear where the team now plans to build its development or if that site remains in contention.
IBJ reported last January that the team scaled back its initial plans of a 20,000-seat stadium, and instead is pursuing a development that has at least 12,000 seats and can be expanded as the fanbase grows. At the same time, the team confirmed it was still considering three sites in Marion County, but declined to identify them.
Wherever the project goes, taxpayers are only expected to be on the hook for the stadium portion. The remainder of Eleven Park—including apartments, retail, office and parking—would be privately funded.
Neither Sandlin nor Indy Eleven immediately returned requests for comment.