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Indianapolis soccer team seeks state help for stadium plan

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indy Eleven soccer team is heading back to the state Legislature for help building a proposed $87 million stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

Team officials are pointing to its success in selling out the IUPUI track stadium’s about 10,500 seats for all 14 games during its first season as a sign of support for professional soccer.

Republican Rep. Todd Huston of Fishers said he would sponsor a bill for financing of the planned 18,500-seat stadium.

The team has proposed having a 10-percent tax on tickets for Indy Eleven games and other events to pay off construction bonds over 30 years. Legislators didn’t act on a similar proposal last year and some remain skeptical about the tax raising enough money to cover the borrowing costs.

Indy Eleven president Peter Wilt said the team has shown it has a strong base of fan support.

“From Indy Eleven’s perspective, we went out and did what was asked – to prove that there is a need and a demand for soccer,” Wilt told The Indianapolis Star. “The people of Indiana certainly proved there’s interest in professional soccer in the Hoosier state.”

The team plays in the North American Soccer League, which is a step below Major League Soccer, the country’s top pro soccer league.

Huston said the Indy Eleven stadium would provide an economic boost for Indianapolis and surrounding region – including his suburban community.

“I have a very young, active community that has a great interest in youth sports and soccer,” Huston told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “Additionally, Fishers is strengthened by having a strong Indianapolis. A strong core of Indianapolis is good for my community and the entire state.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said he is keenly interested in how the bonding for the project is structured with the city of Indianapolis’ Capital Improvement Board.

“I don’t like debt and this bill would contain bonding through the (Capital Improvement Board), so we have to be sure it’s set up so those bonds can be covered,” Brown said.

Wilt said team officials are looking at multiple possible locations for the stadium, which they hope to open by 2017.

Team officials believe they could attract music and other events to the stadium. Wilt said the team had its successful first season where it had to bring in portable bathrooms, concession stands and merchandise booths.