Indiana lawmakers approve Pacers, Eleven funding deals

The Indiana Senate has approved a bill that will secure the long-term status of the state’s NBA basketball team and fund a proposed new football stadium for United Soccer League club Indy Eleven.

The bill provides funding for the recently announced renovation work at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

Announced earlier this month, the 25-year deal will see the Pacers commit their long-term future to Indianapolis. The agreement includes $360m (£279m/€323m) for capital improvements comprised of an estimated $270m from state and the Marion County Capital Improvement Board sources and $65m of private investment from the team’s ownership group, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, including real estate purchases needed to build an outdoor public plaza.

The bill also authorises state backing for the construction of a new stadium (pictured) for Indy Eleven, which has long-term ambitions of entering Major League Soccer. In January, the USL club unveiled a $550m development that will be underpinned by a 20,000-seat multi-purpose stadium.

Indy Eleven currently plays at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of NFL American football team the Indianapolis Colts. Indy Eleven has a deal that can be extended annually but the 67,000-seat facility is deemed too large for its needs.

The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk and Indy Eleven welcomed the latest development.

In a statement, the team said: “With Senate Bill 7 now headed to the Governor’s desk, we are ready to kick off a new era for Indy Eleven professional soccer and the world’s most popular sport in Indiana – with no new taxes and no appropriations from city or state governments.

“This is the latest step in the legislative process. With the Governor’s signature, we can continue along the path to fully capturing this one-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the future of the world’s game in our capital city.”

Image: Indy Eleven