Indy Eleven is Indiana’s professional soccer team and soon it will be the first professional soccer team to play at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy Eleven’s move from the North American Soccer League to the United Soccer League has reignited the supporter base with debates and questions as supporters patiently refresh Twitter and the club’s website waiting for anything to come from their club’s offices on South Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis.
The news of the move broke from Soc Takes, a soccer-centered website, referenced that the team would be announcing their move from the crumbling and unsanctioned NASL to the division two USL. Inside of that report, in addition to the move of leagues, the more shocking part was the club’s move from their first and only home on IUPUI’s campus at Michael A Carroll stadium to Lucas Oil Stadium the home of the Indianapolis Colts.
The move to Lucas Oil Stadium, if it does come to fruition, shouldn’t come as much of a shock. After Indy Eleven launched an eleven-hour bid for an MLS Expansion franchise in November of last year discussions about where the team would play increased. “The Mike” a 10,000 seat stadium off of New York Street in Indianapolis, was never going to be a forever home for the team. The facilities were lackluster and while their first season saw Indy Eleven sell out every home game it wasn’t a location that made sense for the team’s future.
General Supporter Reaction
The move to the 70,000 seat stadium has brought a large amount of criticism, questions, and praise across the board from media and supporters of the team. I threw a poll up on my Twitter account to see what the general reaction was about what the move would do for attendance:
Will a move to Lucas Oil Stadium in addition to a move to USL help @IndyEleven grow their attendance?
— Brian Cook (@SoccerwithBrian) January 9, 2018
The reaction towards the move also concerns soccer supporters who fear that the change in the facility will take away elements that make the gameday experience unique for fans.
But even if you have 15k at a match, in a place that seats 70k, it’s hard to see that being a great environment. I know when the Armada drew almost 14k at EverBank it still seemed like too much open space. Lucas Oil is indoors though.
— Mike Conner (@mconner1201) January 10, 2018
no more #cuethesmoke though
— Rich Paschette (@i76express) January 9, 2018
Said yes. Think switching to USL will have a net + effect on attendance (esp when Cinci, Louisville, maybe even St. Lou in town). Imho, two big factors are more amenities vs. likely higher ticket prices.
— Scott (@scottgrames) January 9, 2018
What does this mean?
At the time of this writing, we generally don’t know what is fact and fiction. The only news we have is from the Soc Takes report. The move to Lucas Oil Stadium from Michael A Carroll Stadium is an impressive statement on the team’s future. Many have questioned the move from multiple standpoints. With the finances behind how the stadium was funded in the first place, it has left Indy Eleven in a tight spot for their choice. Indianapolis funneled as much money as they could into the stadium and the Colts even received some income from non-football events that are held in the building.
Many have questioned what the facilities and environment will be. “The Mike” as it has been called by supporters while lacking in proper facilities allowed for organic and family-like growth for the team. On goal celebrations, smoke bombs were lit in front of the Brickyard Battalion which surely won’t be allowed in Lucas Oil Stadium. Cost of tickets for games at Michael Carroll Stadium was more than reasonable which allowed relatively cheap entertainment on a Saturday Night.
Cost seems to be a big aspect worrying fans:
I’m no expert in demographics but when i go to games the general age seems to be 18-30 year olds sooooo😂 I’m a college student myself which is why im concerned
— Nicholas Evans (@ninjaspartan011) January 10, 2018
Why Lucas Oil Stadium?
A lot is generally unknown at this stage about what this move could do for the club and it’s future.
Stepping back from aspects that require more information this move in my eye seems to be more about Indy Eleven’s aspirations for Major League Soccer than it does anything else. Reviewing Kenn.com on the requirements for leagues in the US Soccer pyramid it doesn’t seem like The Mike WOULDN’T qualify as a USL Stadium, more so when you look at where some of the MLS 2 teams play and their attendance:
That being said, the situation at The Mike wasn’t going to improve. Questions continue to be raised about how much longer the facilities they do hold would last and for a professional team, it wasn’t much to look at. If the team is still pursuing a goal of reaching MLS, the move to Lucas Oil Stadium would be as if Indy Eleven upgraded their clothing before a job interview. It could be seen as they are just putting down hand me downs Indy Eleven has been pursuing their own stadium for quite some time.
The move to Lucas Oil Stadium could also bring in some of the naysayers and fans who were concern about the circumstances of the team. While it’s easy to educate fans on the sport and the team putting them inside a building like Lucas Oil Stadium gives them a larger billboard depending on the circumstances of the deal.
We Shall Wait
The move to a new stadium, a new league, and many other things that will be new for Indiana’s team in 2018 will bring questions, criticism and understandable concerns by their loyal supporters. The team in addition to the sport are both young in the United States and to say they will undergo growing pains is an understatement. What we can do now is wait and see what will happen to the future of one of the countries fastest growing sports and see what the future holds.