Officials hope momentum continues as Indy hosts Chelsea – Inter Milan game

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INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers and out of towers packed Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday night, to watch two European soccer teams play.

The city hosted the first eastern round game of  the Guinness International Champions Cup. The game, Chelsea vs. Inter Milan, kicked off at 8 p.m. and ended in a 2-0 win for Chelsea.

“I think it’s awesome. It’s going to start (getting people to like) soccer (and) the new team they established here in Indianapolis,” Isaaq Awale said.

Awale is a big soccer fan. He said he is going to support Indianapolis’ new professional soccer team, the Indy Eleven. The team is scheduled to debut in 2014.

“I like soccer. I grew up with soccer. I grew up playing soccer,” Awale said.

Indianapolis officials are pleased the international match-up was hosted here, the new local soccer team starting next year and what all of this means for the city.

“This is important to establish Indianapolis as a soccer market for the future,” said Peter Wilt, Indy Eleven President and General Manager.

Many fans visited downtown before the game. The Omni Severin Hotel even hosted a Georgia Street pre-game party. People listened to music, played games and purchased Indy Eleven merchandise.

Ken Alexander and his stepson, Andy Duffin, attended the pre-game party and the game.

Alexander is the public works director for the city of Westfield and is helping Westfield build a huge sports complex, Grand Park. It is going to have 31 soccer fields, trails and baseball fields. They hope it will attract people from nearby cities like St. Louis, Chicago and Columbus.

“Westfield recognizes what this can bring to our city and bring to Indianapolis and we want to be a part of that and help broaden Hamilton county and Westfield’s exposure,” Alexander said.

Alexander said Grand Park should attract not only soccer fans and tournaments, but also fans and tournaments for other sports. They hope to build on Thursday’s momentum.

“The idea behind the park is to provide a world-class facility in Indianapolis that can host large events tournaments and things of that nature,” Alexander said.