(INDIANAPOLIS) - The owner of the Indy Eleven soccer team says stronger than expected demand for tickets is the reason he is making an earlier push for a new stadium funded in part by taxpayers.
Last week, the team announced it would seek state help in building an $87 million multi-purpose stadium in a downtown location to be determined. But owner Ersal Ozdemir says it is not public funding in the traditional sense - he says the team wants a portion of revenue generated by taxes on tickets it sells, plus the sales taxes and local income taxes the team would pay.
"The money that will pay for construction will be the users who attend the games. It is not a general tax increase at all," said Ozdemir, who estimates his plan would generate roughly $5 million a year to finance the stadium's construction.
Such a plan would have to be approved by state lawmakers because it would require a change to the definition of Indy's Professional Sports Development Area to include a future soccer stadium site.
Ozdemir says the team is looking for a member of the General Assembly to sponsor it. He says the team will not ask for financial help from the City-County government.
The Indy Eleven will play at a reconfigured Carroll Stadium on IUPUI's campus when they open their first North American Soccer League season this fall.
The team has said from the beginning that it's goal would be it's own stadium. But Ozdemir says he had to start talking about stadium plans earlier because of fan interest - he says the team has sold more than 7,000 season tickets, not just deposits on those tickets.
"Looking at teams in different leagues, even MLS and NASL. Some teams have done well, but no team has started this strong," Ozdemir said.
Carroll Stadium holds about 6,000 fans in its permanent seats, and the Indy Eleven is paying to install temporary seating that will bring capacity to around 11,000. The stadium Ozdemir is proposing would hold 18,500.
Ozdemir says the team is not looking at specific sites just yet. His own development company, Keystone Group was among the bidders for the old GM stamping plant west of downtown, but the Indianapolis Business Journal reported this week that an outdoor concert venue appeared to be the favorite to win that site.
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