Indy Eleven fans rally at Statehouse in support of stadium proposal

Friday, Mar 20, 2015

We are well into the second half of the General Assembly, but the score is 0-0 in the high stakes game for a new downtown soccer stadium.

Soccer fans tried to make friends and fans of lawmakers during a rally at the Statehouse Thursday.

Fans say Indianapolis has the team, the crowds and plans for a stadium, but they need the money.

Indy Eleven players signed autographs and signed up with fans to push lawmakers for a stadium.

Indianapolis Mayor Gregg Ballard is among their biggest cheerleaders.

"If Indianapolis is to continue to be a sports capital across the nation and around the world, we need to keep moving forward in this direction," said the mayor.

A stadium for professional soccer, other sports, concerts and other events is on the drawing board. If built, it would be home to the Indy Eleven.

The team finished its first season and supporters say is off to a good start.

"We did sell out every single game," said Colleen Rose. "Not everyone that wanted to come got to, but now will have room to come."

Professional soccer, a relative newcomer to North America, is among the world's most popular sports. Some believe a soccer stadium would allow Indianapolis to cash in.

"Right now, with the World Cup and women's soccer in the World Cup in 2015, it's just going to grow," said Nicole Schraff.

Mayor Ballard puts the price at less than $100 million.

Some of that tax money needs the approval of lawmakers. Senate President Pro Tempore David Long has some tough questions before signing off on it, too, including whether the plan is reasonable, if the team's owner has enough skin in the game on top of the taxpayer dollars being asked for, and who would ultimately be responsible for payments on the stadium if the team doesn't continue to do as well.

Sen. Long says a soccer stadium is not the Senate's most important issue, but it's being discussed. With six weeks left in the session, soccer fans will have to score quickly.

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