INDIANAPOLIS (March 24, 2015) - A group of Indiana lawmakers unanimously rejected the idea Tuesday of a brand-new $80 million Indy Eleven soccer stadium downtown.
Instead members of the Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy committee voted 13-0 to spend $20 million to renovate Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI campus, where the team played its first season last year.
It’s a move and new proposal publicly supported by the team.
“It’s a platform to moving Indy Eleven to first division standards,” Peter Wilt said, the team’s president and general manager. “There’s no doubt we’re in a better situation than we were yesterday.”
Taxpayers would be on the hook for the $20 million, a fraction though of what it would cost to build a new facility. The money would be recouped from taxes collected at the stadium and a downtown development from the team’s owner.
The sole critic at Tuesday’s hearing was an Indiana taxpayer.
“Every time something like this comes along, that’s more money out of our pockets,” he said.
State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), a powerful member of the Senate Appropriations committee responsible for the state budget, supports the new proposal.
“The citizen who spoke, he spoke in that vein, and we agree with him,” he said in an interview after the hearing. “But we think we’ve found a way to fix up a public university asset.”
Anything beyond renovating Carroll Stadium would be up to Indy Eleven.
Lawmakers want the renovations to be for a multi-use facility. State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) said the NCAA has shown interest in hosting various events at a renovated stadium.
Advocates ask lawmakers to look to the future.
“A lot of time what we do is leverage the game of soccer to develop kids into better citizens,” Dave Guthrie said, executive director of the Indiana Soccer Association.
Lawmakers appear to see not only a potential shift in culture, but economics too.
“Not in my generation, but the next generation I think they are going to be soccer fans,” Kenley said. “And I think they will be willing to put their money in those types of facilities and attend those types of events.”
The measure now heads to the full Senate.
A final version of the new measure needs approval from both chambers and Gov. Mike Pence.