Design & Development

Indianapolis council approves MLS stadium plan

Featured image credit: Ryan De Hamer on Unsplash

Plans to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Indianapolis have been given a boost after the City-County Council voted in favour of a proposal to build a new stadium in the city.

In April, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans to pursue an MLS expansion franchise that would play at a new downtown stadium.

Hogsett said his team had submitted a proposal to the Metropolitan Development Commission for the creation of a new professional sports development area (PSDA) that would include a soccer stadium in Downtown Indianapolis near the Downtown Transit Center.

The Indianapolis Star has reported that the council yesterday (Monday) voted in favour of creating the new PSDA by 16 votes to 8. The move was welcomed by Hogsett.

He said: “Tonight, a bipartisan vote of the City-County Council sent a resounding message: Indianapolis is ready to write the next chapter in our sports story. Over the coming months, our community will unite in pursuit of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a Major League Soccer expansion club for our city.

“I’m grateful to the City-County Council for supporting the vision to solidify Indianapolis as America’s greatest sports city, and extend my thanks to the residents who continue to passionately participate in this process.”

The PSDA, which still requires approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission, is being pursued as an alternative to the one already established for USL Championship club Indy Eleven, which had previously been part of MLS expansion efforts in 2017 and 2019.

In February 2023, Indy Eleven unveiled the first renderings for Eleven Park, a new $1bn (£783m/€920m) neighbourhood development project that is due to be anchored by a 20,000-seat multi-purpose stadium. The stadium has been designed by Populous and the project broke ground in May 2023.

Indy Eleven has been working with local construction, development, management and investments company Keystone Group on the project. Keystone Group has previously criticised Hogsett’s administration for seeking to back away from the Eleven Park project.

In a statement reported by local television station WRTV, Indy Eleven and Keystone Group owner Ersal Ozdemir said: “Tonight’s vote is the unfortunate result of a false choice presented by city leaders, with a majority seemingly motivated more by fear than hope. That isn’t the way Indianapolis has succeeded in the past, and I fear that the tactics used in pursuit of a legislative win at City-County Council may result in huge losses for the future of downtown development and professional soccer in Indiana.

“I love Indianapolis, and tonight’s decision does not diminish that feeling or my passion for Eleven Park. That is why I believe there is still an opportunity for the kind of collaboration that has always characterised our city at its best.

“As I have repeatedly said in recent months, Indy Eleven’s investors and I remain ready and willing to meet with Mayor Hogsett to discuss a productive way forward as one city. It would be our hope that like so many mayors before, he will see the benefit in bringing all parties together rather than continuing to forge this path alone.”