Senate committee advances bill to give Indy Eleven more time on stadium project

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The Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the bill that would give the Indy Eleven more time to finalize plans for a dedicated soccer stadium.

Senate Bill 385, authored by Republican Sen. Jack Sandlin of Indianapolis, would add two years to a 2019 bill that had called for a new special tax district—known as a professional sports development area, or PSDA—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 designated geographical area surrounding the stadium to help finance the project. Indy Eleven would be 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% of the stadium construction costs.

The new PSDA would have to be enacted by the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission once a deal is struck between the city and the team.

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 allowed 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.

Sandlin said the unexpected pandemic caused the need for the extended timeline for the soccer stadium.

Indy Eleven officials have said they plan to announce a location for the proposed $550 million Eleven Park development, which would include a stadium, by the end of March.

Lobbyist Matt Bell, who is representing Indy Eleven at the Statehouse, spoke in favor of the bill but did not share any new details about the project during Thursday’s hearing.

“We are excited to bring a permanent home for professional soccer to the city of Indianapolis,” Bell said.

CIB Executive Director Andy Mallon also voiced support for the legislation.

“The CIB is looking forward to working with the Indy Eleven,” Mallon said. “We are excited about a permanent home for soccer in Indianapolis.”

For years, Indy Eleven 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 in January 2020 that the team had scaled back its initial plans for a 20,000-seat stadium. Instead, the team is pursuing a venue that has at least 12,000 seats and could be expanded as the fan base grows.

Wherever the project goes, tax dollars would be used to help fund only the stadium portion. The remainder of Eleven Park—including apartments, retail, office and parking—would be privately funded.

SB 385 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

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17 thoughts on “Senate committee advances bill to give Indy Eleven more time on stadium project

  1. This is reasonable considering the challenges this past year. I certainly hope they choose a location other than downtown, maybe Northside Indy? A while back they seemed to be considering the old Broad Ripple High School – which would be a great location!!

    1. So a soccer team gets extra time to meet an artificial government deadline, but not the municipal bus system. It needs to be punished for not meeting its artificial government deadline. Long as we are consistent…

  2. downtown is the obvious and more desirable location. broad ripple is mainly a residential neighborhood thats already extremely congested. putting a staduim at the board ripple high school area would be terrible logistics.downtown is already geared and set up for this and its what city planners have invisioned for years on how the make up downtown would look like. its the mecca center for conventions and sporting events,why change that now?i think if Endy Eleven is serious about joining major league soccer they need to stick to the original 20k seat plan.

  3. The obvious choice is to not let them construct an unnecessary sports facility. Especially for such an insignificant team in an insignificant league.

    1. Murray, I encourage you to look at the big picture: keeping even a (currently) Division Two professional club in Indianapolis allows the city to tap into world soccer/football, which is enormously lucrative. Soccer dwarfs gridiron football, baseball, basketball, and hockey combined. A regular-season English Premier League match gets more worldwide TV coverage and viewers than the so-called Super Bowl. Our city should get into that money while building the sport.

    2. Stephen – You are correct that soccer/football dwarfs the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL internationally, but virtually no one outside the U.S. gives a flying fig about the United Soccer League. And unfortunately, I think the ship has sailed on the MLS coming to Indy with teams in Cincy, Columbus, Chicago and (soon) St. Louis.

  4. Stephen, I think it’s a little naive to insinuate that this league and this team is an avenue to international soccer and all that comes with it. Quite frankly, a significant chunk of the world looks at MLS as more in line with Pee Wee football then it does as AAA baseball.

    Even in the best of scenarios, as Brian pointed out, even the MLS is unlikely to come to Indy. Therefore, I stand by my previous statement

    1. Leagues change… Pacers started in the ABA… and joined the NBA at a time the NBA finals were on tape delay until the 80s. Now basketball is the #3 most popular sport worldwide. Soccer is already #1 globally and can support MANY leagues. MLS already generates 30% more revenue than NASCAR – should we go ahead close the IMS? Insignificant league…

      The MLS is also in a labor crisis and their salary cap / player movement restrictions – that disadvantage the league against others. They have been sued previously for anti-trust violations and likely will be again. It is no sure thing that MLS will always be the top league or that they could prevent a USL team from joining their ranks by winning.

      Even if promotion (through MLS expansion or potential 2-league promotion system) is not assured – I’m fine with another world-class facility that brings positive outside attention and civic pride to my community. Enjoying a game at Victory field is like the 3rd best thing about Indianapolis. Doesn’t matter that I could not name one player or where they sit in the standings.

      Let me guess – you liked Indianapolis better before MSA, RCA, Bankers Life, LOS, Victory Field, the Arts Garden, Circle Centre, and our World-class convention Center?

      “In my day we played with sticks and read about the Yankees in the paper! Progress is so sickening.”

    2. I don’t really care about worldwide statistics. Formula One is huge worldwide but IMS couldn’t make the numbers work despite drawing 75,000 fans, which is actually a huge number for an F1 race.

      In Indiana, the Eleven are a niche sport. They average 10,000 fans a game and they play, what, 14 games a year? The stadium won’t seat more than 20,000, I understand, and we are going to siphon $300 million out of the tax base for it. That’s money that could be used for roads or schools or police or a bunch of other things.

      I thought the original plan to upgrade the IUPUI stadium made sense as it upgraded downtown facilities. What appears to be the common thread is that if we spend on sports, it’s to bring people downtown.

      Lucas Oil Stadium at least gets used for other events and can be overflow for the Convention Center. We got fleeced on the deal making Jim Irsay rich but we did need to make the convention center bigger and his team gets Indianapolis mentioned on national TV a lot. And downtown businesses get a lot of traffic from Colts games.

      The Fieldhouse brings a lot of people downtown and gets used for a lot of other events too.

      The Indians drew 586,000 people in 2019 and their stadium cost $20 million in the mid 90’s and draws people downtown.

      $300 million to build a stadium with a location TBD? Doesn’t make sense. But then again, this is Jack Sandlin. He hasn’t done anything this session that makes sense.

  5. The MLS may not come to Indy, but why does that mean the Indy Eleven shouldn’t have a stadium? The Indians have victory field, which is one of the nicest stadiums in AAA baseball. Fort Wayne helped build Parkview Field, which has helped completely reinvigorate the entire city. The Indy Eleven having a nice stadium built for soccer would likely bring increased attendance to games, and redevelopment wherever they put the stadium. I personally think Lafayette Square is a great idea for a mixed use stadium development, but I see why Downtown is a good idea too.

    1. Agree – just keep it within 465.

      Lafayette Square could be good – just do it thoughtfully
      Downtown could be good – probably best if they can get land
      Broad Ripple could be awesome but won’t happen. Imagine BR Ave after a win.

    1. The bill already passed. Indy XI already secured stadium funding. Indy XI did not pay for the entire project.

      Our elected officials must have missed your edict Scott.

  6. This statement from the article is misleading “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.” Yes, but through the PSDA, state and local taxes from the ENTIRE development are diverted to pay for the stadium. Therefore, unless the development attracts new businesses that would have otherwise located out of state, then the development represents a tax loss for Indiana taxpayers.