Indy Eleven Stadium Agreement Focuses on Future

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City and soccer officials announced Indy Eleven will play home games in 2018 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. City and soccer officials announced Indy Eleven will play home games in 2018 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
INDIANAPOLIS -

City and team leaders say Indy Eleven will likely play the majority of its 2018 home matches at Lucas Oil Stadium. Owner Ersal Ozdemir says relocating to one of the state's marquee sports venues provides "immediate upgrades to the amenities, services, and atmosphere" for fans who have been watching the team since 2014 in Michael Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI campus. The organization previously pushed for -- and failed to secure -- a new soccer-focused home stadium in Indianapolis, but the city remains in consideration for a Major League Soccer franchise.

At a news conference on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the Eleven announcement continues to show city's sports potential is "boundless." He said "Since our community came together 30 years ago to host the Pan-Am Games, Indianapolis has grown into the metropolis that it is today time and time again, because we know how to put on a great fan experience and great sporting events." In addition to Indianapolis Colts home games, Lucas Oil Stadium was the site of the 2012 Super Bowl and the 2010 and 2015 NCAA Men's Final Four basketball games. It will also serve as the location of the 2022 College Football National Championship game.

The Capital Improvement Board in Indianapolis is the owner and manager of Lucas Oil Stadium. President Melina Kennedy says "we're working through final details of a lease - a lease of license agreement (with Indy Eleven) -- that will spell out all of the details in terms of rent and operations." Indy Eleven recently shifted affiliations from the struggling North American Soccer League, now down to six teams, to the United Soccer League, which has 32 active teams and a pipeline of expansion franchises.

The team's efforts to secure a spot in the MLS were made official one year ago when it formally applied for an expansion franchise. At the time, President Jeff Belskus said the team's efforts for a new home would continue to be a top priority. Indy Eleven led the NASL in attendance in each of its first two seasons -- around 10,500 fans per game. Attendance figures have slipped some in the previous two seasons and the USL says Indy Eleven has averaged 9,170 fans per season since its founding, "making it one of the strongest lower-division clubs in North America since its inception."

The 2018 schedule has not been finalized and the team could end up back at Carroll Stadium for some games, depending on the Colts schedule. The team will tentatively open the 2018 home season March 31 against Cincinnati FC, another organization seeking a spot in the MLS. Cincinnati is one of three teams -- along with Detroit and Sacramento -- who could be picked by the country's top pro soccer league, joining Nashville, which was announced as an expansion team in December. Miami is also nearly "over the finish line," as MLS Commissioner Don Garber recently put it, as another new franchise. Indianapolis is among eight semi-finalists for a separate round of expansion that could add two teams.

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