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Many steps to go on plan for Major League Soccer stadium

Stadium tax district passes committee, heads to council

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis City-Council committee on Tuesday night voted to advance the plan for a Professional Sports Development Area to help fund a proposed Major League Soccer stadium in downtown Indianapolis near Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee voted 6-4 to recommend the proposal to the full council. One councilman abstained. The council will consider the proposal June 3.

Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett last month announced the downtown site for a MLS stadium just under a year after the city government backed another soccer stadium project.

The Eleven Park project, estimated at $1.5 billion, was being built on land previously owned by The Diamond Chain Co. along the east shore of the White River between West Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue. Plans call for a stadium with 20,000 seats, plus offices, apartments, a hotel, retail space, and a parking garage.

The Eleven Park project has come under fire after human remains from a former city cemetery have been found on the site.

Tuesday’s committee meeting included extensive back and forth between council members on the committee, and the city employees who explaining the proposed tax district for what’s known as the Pearl Street site near Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The city employees say, no matter the outcome of the vote for the tax area for the Pearl Street site, the city won’t move forward with the original plan to help build Eleven Park as a future home of the city’s United Soccer League teams, both called Indy Eleven.

That concerned Council Minority Leader Brian Mowery. The Republican said, “I am also concerned with the message this sends to the business community at large as well, that we are willing to start negotiations and back out completely at the last minute and turn it around on you, and what message that sends to the community.”

Council President Vop Osili, a Democrat, said he voted “yes” Tuesday because the Pearl Street site is the city’s best shot at getting a MLS team. “This city wants to have an MLS team, and the city could benefit from it. But, it was also clear tonight that we work as hard as we can to make something great come from the Diamond Chain site.”

During a public hearing at the Tuesday committee hearing, the leader of the Brickyard Battalion, the fan group for the Indy Eleven, said he felt betrayed that the city backed out of the project.

David Ziemba, the group’s president has been outspoken about wanting to see the Eleven Park come to fruition. “It’s all about compromise and doing what’s best for the citizenry and your constituents, and, right now, we’re not really seeing that play out.”

If the full City-County Council passes the tax district proposal, it will head to the Metropolitan Development Commission again. It next would face state approval if the commission approved it.


Tonight, our community engaged in a robust conversation on the future of soccer in Indianapolis and emerged one step closer to pursuing the vision to bring a Major League Soccer expansion club to our city.

I want to thank the passionate residents who shared their perspectives tonight, as well as the members of the City-County Council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee for supporting Proposal 175 in a bipartisan way, showing that they believe in the potential to solidify our status as the greatest sports city in the country. As this process moves forward, I look forward to continuing the conversations with City-County Councilors, state leaders, and members of our community as we work together – in the Indianapolis way.

Mayor Joe Hogsett, (D) Indianapolis

We are heartened by the compelling support Indy Eleven and Eleven Park received this evening and continues to receive. Tonight’s meeting showed a troubling lack of details from city officials as to the why and how of their decision making, and it is our hope that the full Council will stand up for their constituents and taxpayers and demand transparency as Indianapolis prepares to walk away from its commitments to near Westside neighborhoods. 

Alexandra Miller, Spokesperson for Keystone Group