INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Central Indiana sports fans love their professional teams, but that doesn’t mean taxpayers want to pay to keep them in house and home.
A recent Indy Sports Poll by the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute found that just 37% of those polled favored direct tax subsidies for Victory Field and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 34% for Bankers Life Fieldhouse and 31% for Lucas Oil Stadium.
Finishing last and way behind the pack, the Indy Eleven could garner only 23% support for taxpayers directly footing the bill for a proposed soccer stadium.
Those findings tell State Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis) that his proposed bill may be the only way to build the Indy Eleven a new field in time for the 2021 season.
“I think it’s pretty crucial to get this accomplished in this legislative session,” he said.
Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir also runs Keystone Group, the developer of many significant properties in Marion County including renovation of the former AT&T headquarters downtown.
He has proposed a $400 million mixed-use development to be called Eleven Park to include housing, hotel, dining and retail space if the Capitol Improvement Board will build an adjacent $150 million soccer stadium with 20,000 seats, utilizing taxes raised from all the money spent on the site to pay off the construction bonds.
“There’s no ask here for public dollars to build anything,” said Sandlin. “Only if this is approved and the development is developed will those revenues be collected to pay for the building of the stadium.”
The CIB would own the stadium and the Indy Eleven would be a tenant.
Ozdemir has pledged to cover upkeep and construction cost overruns.
Sites such as Broad Ripple High School, International Village and vacant property southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium on the banks of the White River have been mentioned as possible homes to the proposed development.
“As a city we’ve made that decision many many years ago to follow this path,” said Sandlin, “and I think that this is another project that will enhance the downtown area.”
Sandlin said he has a commitment from state senate leadership to give his bill a hearing while it considers funding formulas to pay for improvements to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center.