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Local advocates concerned site of Indy soccer stadium could have human remains

Historians concerned site of future soccer stadium could have human remains

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Local advocates want developers to look for human remains from an old cemetery before doing work at the site of the new Indy Eleven soccer stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

Greenlawn Cemetery once sat on the land between Kentucky Avenue and the White River prior to the 20th century.

Historians say that over the years, many of the graves were moved to other cemeteries. But they’re having trouble finding any records showing that numerous people, many of whom were African American, were ever moved.

Leon Bates is a local historian and community advocate working towards a Ph.D. He is leading the charge to get a historical marker for the Greenlawn cemetery installed in the area.

“We cannot find a record where any of these people were ever relocated,” Bates said. “But when we check the other cemeteries where people were relocated to, we’re not finding their name on the list.”

Bates estimates there could be 2,000 unaccounted-for people.

“This potentially is the single largest African American burial site in the state of Indiana,” Bates said.

Human remains have been uncovered in that area over the years, as recently as 2010.

Eunice Trotter is the director of the Indiana Landmarks Black Heritage Preservation Program Director.

“We do know through history there have been bodies that have been recovered from that cemetery,” Trotter said.

Advocates like Trotter and Bates say this is important and the people who may be buried here deserve to be treated with dignity before the Eleven Park project moves forward.

“It’s a matter of respect. It’s sacred ground. This is a burial site,” Trotter said. “We’re not talking about a place where animals are buried. We’re talking about a place where human beings are buried.”

News 8 reached out to Keystone Group, the developer of the project, and a representative provided a statement:

“Keystone Group is in compliance with all city and state regulations for every development. We have a full archaeological plan in place and will be following all laws and proper procedures.”

Keystone Group

A proposal to designate this as a “Professional Sports Development Area” was introduced to the City-County Council on Monday and referred to the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee.

When it is heard, there should be a chance for the public to comment on concerns with the project and/or the designation as a professional sports development area.

Developers said in May that construction on Eleven Park should be complete in 2025.