Committee approves funding for new Indy soccer stadium

Indy Eleven professional soccer team. (WISH Photo)
Indy Eleven professional soccer team. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The owner of the Indy Eleven professional soccer team wants state assistance for the construction of a new downtown stadium.

Ersal Ozdemir hopes that state tax dollars collected at the proposed $87 million stadium, including a ticket tax, can be used to help build it.

That request was made to the House Ways and Means committee in the General Assembly Thursday.

The plan is to let the Indy Eleven partner with the Capital Improvement Board to leverage money raised in an existing Professional Sports taxing district.

The team will play it’s first season in Carroll Stadium at IUPUI, but hopes to move to a facility that could also be used for concerts and other cultural events.

One of the prospective sites is the abandoned GM Stamping Plant along White River south of Washington Street.

While the team is seeking state assistance, the owner says not everyone will pay higher taxes.

“You don’t go to the games, you don’t pay the taxes,” said Ozdemir.  “This doesn’t increase anybody’s taxes, not one dollar.  So if you go to the game and you have a drink and pay the sales tax that can be captured.”

“I think they’ve shown that there’s an interest in soccer and a multi-pupose facility,” said Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville.)  “The NCAA also has a lot of interest for some of the championships.”

No location for the stadium will be chosen until funding is in place.

The committee passed the stadium bill on to the full House. It must still win approval in the state Senate as well.

Mayor Greg Ballard said, recently, if the stadium concept proceeds, he would “like to put that someplace else,” someplace other than the old Stamping Plant.  But he acknowledged, after three years of publicizing the property, “it looks like the potential market for that site is small.”

Ballard also told 24-Hour News 8 the project should not be only a soccer stadium.

“If we do anything else in that regard, it would have to be a multi-use stadium.”  He predicted “that’s a long way down the road, frankly.”

But, Ballard said he encourages the discussion because, when trying to attract people to a city, it is important to create a sense of place.  “I think a range of entertainment options is always good for a city.”

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