INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The push for a new soccer stadium has some high-level support. From the 25th floor of the City-County Building.
Indianapolis Mayor Ballard told 24-Hour News 8, if the financing can be arranged, he supports the concept being promoted by the Indy Eleven.
“Probably an outdoor stadium that has multiple uses. We want to play multiple sports in it. I think that’s important. I think it should be downtown and then we’ll go from there,” said Ballard.
The team has a colorful, animated vision of the $82 million, open-air arena. Now, with the help of State Representative Todd Huston, the Indy Eleven hopes to win approval for a plan to pay for it.
On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a proposal to allow up to $5 million a year in sales and ticket taxes at the stadium to help repay the construction bonds over 30 years.
Supporters say, under that proposal, the people who use the stadium would be the people who pay for the stadium.
During an interview in his conference room, Mayor Ballard recalled the team’s box office success in 2014. They “did sell out every game, last year,” he said.
“I went to a couple. Let me tell you, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this. This is kind of like pent-up demand.”
Critics worry that the team won’t be able to fill the 18,500 seats in the new building. Then, they fear other taxpayers will be forced to pay for a sport they don’t watch. Ballard doesn’t seem worried about that.
“Millennials are all there,” he said. They grew up playing the game. “So the demographics are only going to get better for any soccer team in Indianapolis,” said Ballard.
Ballard also compared the stadium concept to the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium. He said we didn’t want to use that building just “ten times a year. You want to use it much more than that.” The same is true of the stadium desired by the Indy Eleven.
“We need to make sure it has lots of uses to it,” Ballard said.
The Mayor even sees a parallel to the era when Indianapolis claimed the title of “Amateur Sports Capitol of the World.” The investments Indianapolis made in the 1970s and 1980s “worked out pretty well for us.”