Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Thoughts on the Eleven playing in Lucas Oil Stadium

Photo Credit: Colts.com
Based on everything we've all heard, the Indy Eleven will be headed to the USL. This could happen on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on reports and rumors. The report that started this past few days of evaluation and additional speculation from the crew at Soc Takes, stated, "Unless unexpected changes occur, Indy Eleven will play its home games at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018, the home of the Indianapolis Colts."

I said it before, I've said it repeatedly over the past few days, and I'll repeat it again now.

This is a bad idea for the Indy Eleven.

There is "absolutely no reason to play every single home game in that building" and that doesn't come from me, but a statement that I agree with completely. What I have said is that if it works in LOS, even for a year, people are going to ask why it can't work for longer and the team, and more specifically, team owner Ersal Ozdemir, will have a harder time maintaining the argument that has been the narrative to date. That the team needs its own stadium to survive. It's also his money to burn, but I believe that the poor optics of a massive stadium with 8,000 - 10,000 (Indy) fans in it will hurt the team long-term. As I said on Twitter today:
That's how I see it.

There's something to be said for knowing your market and the soccer environment. I don't think Indy will ever be MLS, but I do think that there is a market for Div 2 or Div 3 soccer in Indy for a long time. LOS is not necessary for a Div 2 or Div 3 soccer team and a full season in LOS is going to cost the team more money than Carroll Stadium at no real benefit. Money that won't be spent on players. Or a coach that hasn't been hired. Or a General Manager/Technical Director. Or a Public Relations guy. All positions that are currently not filled at the moment.

My belief is that attendance has dropped at Carroll Stadium in part due to the "stadium experience" and with improved bathrooms/concessions/etc and appropriate ticket prices, the Eleven could average 10k-12k. Providing a better "stadium experience" in LOS for a season isn't going to help the Eleven prove that they need their own stadium. They will no longer be the highest attended team in the league, something they've been able to hang their hat, and will have telecasts showing thousands of empty seats. Tens of thousands of empty seats.

Attendance will likely see an uptick from where it's been at Carroll, but it won't be enough that the team will be able to convince government officials to suddenly change their mind on a public-private partnership. A move to LOS continues the team running at walls with a P3 stadium, which they are going to continue to do again this legislative session, despite it being the short session. If Belskus, who was hired for the sole purpose of convincing legislators of a stadium, couldn't make any headway last year, I don't see it happening this year.

At this point in the history of the team, I think a better decision would be to continue to use Carroll Stadium for the majority of the games this year, use LOS when it makes sense against Cincinnati and Louisville, and work toward the process of building a 15k to 16k stadium in the future. A 16k stadium with the ability to expand (if necessary) is a much more realistic approach for Indy, provided Ersal chips in more of his own cash.

It will be nice to have concession stands not operated out of cargo containers, bathrooms and not Porta-potties, and actual locker rooms for the teams. I just don't think that a season at LOS is the right move at this time.

1 comment:

Don said...

I would rather play at The Mike