May 2, 2024 - News

A look at what Indy's MLS timeline could be

Eleven fans at a meeting

Indy Eleven fans pack a meeting about the city's footy future. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Mayor Joe Hogsett is enthusiastic about bringing Major League Soccer to the Circle City, but that energy can't speed up the process.

Why it matters: The pursuit of an MLS team in Indianapolis has always been a waiting game, and last week's announcement does little to change that fact.

  • Even in a best-case scenario, we're still several years away from actually seeing this team play.

Flashback: Over the past 10 years, the MLS has added 11 new teams. The league will add another in 2025 when San Diego has its inaugural season.

  • Including San Diego, every team has waited an average of nearly three years to go from being announced as an MLS expansion team to having their first season.

Reality check: That means even if everything goes according to plan with a speedy approval process and stadium construction that starts this year with no snags, the Indianapolis team likely won't hit the pitch until the 2028 or 2029 season at the earliest.

Yes, but: The first hurdle may be cleared sooner, rather than later.

Driving the news: The Metropolitan Development Commission adopted a resolution Wednesday to create a new taxing district to support the construction of a soccer-specific stadium on the southeast side of downtown.

  • Next, the proposal will go before the City-County Council.

The intrigue: Traditionally, such proposals are introduced by the councilor who represents that part of the city, but Councilor Kristin Jones said she won't be supporting the new professional sports development area.

  • Jones is mad the city walked away from its plans to partner with minor league team the Indy Eleven and Keystone Development Group to build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium along the White River — on the other side of Jones' district.
  • She sponsored the earlier taxing district proposal to support the $1.5 billion mixed-use project known as Eleven Park.
  • The city's announcement last week broke the hearts of Eleven fans and mascots.

What she's saying: "This is a vision for our city," Jones said, flanked by supporters in shirts that read "Build Eleven Park," after the MDC vote yesterday. "And I don't want to lose this."

The other side: City officials say Keystone's project isn't financially viable.

  • Instead, Hogsett will turn to an unnamed group of investors willing to pay an estimated $500 million MLS expansion fee and take ownership of the team while the city builds the stadium.

How it works: The city would need to get the taxing district approved at the state level, and then the MLS expansion process would require an application that includes stadium plans.

  • If Indy's application is approved, it undergoes an MLS evaluation process before being presented to the league's governing body, which makes the final call.
  • Expansion teams also need the support of at least two-thirds of the league's current owners.

Plus, the stadium needs to be built.

  • According to construction company R.J. Potteiger, average sports stadium construction can take 18 months to three years after the design is finalized.
  • Arup, a professional services firm involved in the construction of the Las Vegas Raiders' Allegiant Stadium said the massive 65,000-seat facility went from concept to completion in 40 months, making it the fastest-built U.S. football stadium of its size.
  • The proposed Indy stadium has not been designed, but expect something in the 20,000 to 30,000 seat range.

The bottom line: Nothing related to soccer in Indianapolis has moved quickly.

Go deeper: What the soccer stadium could look like

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