Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Indy Eleven Stadium Location Options: A Summary

Recently, Indy Eleven announced that they will make an announcement on the location of Eleven Park by the end of March. Since my first article in 2014, I have discussed potential stadium locations numerous times on this site, on Twitter, and in Reddit. As we wait for the official announcement from the team, I thought it would be good for me to create a summary of many of the locations that I've reviewed over the years. I don't have any inside insight from the team, these are just locations that I feel have the most potential and seem to meet the team's stated goals of location or are large enough to fit a stadium (note, not all of the locations have enough space to include the development portion). In no particular order, here are the locations and some of the discussion I have had about them through the years (follow the links for more of my detailed thoughts in the historical articles).


  • Sand Street - This location is the old Valspar lot and is currently owned by the Indiana Finance Authority. There is so much to like about this location. It's big enough for the stadium, close proximity to downtown, and creates a "stadium zone" in the southwest portion of downtown. The location isn't big enough, however, to include all of the extra components of the Eleven Park development like the apartments and hotel so the team would likely need to utilize the language created in Senate Enrolled Act 7 in IC-36-7-31 Sec. 4.(a) that states (emphasis mine):
    "The tax area may include a facility described in this subsection and any parcel of land on which the facility is located. An area may contain noncontiguous tracts of land within the county. However, the straight line distance between any point in the tax area and the facility described in subdivision (1) may not exceed one (1) mile. The area must be separate from other professional sports development areas established under IC 36-7-31." 
    There are significant advantages to this site with language in the Act that helps to overcome the disadvantages.
  • GM Stamping Plant - Of all of the locations I've evaluated, this site just begs to be utilized. It's gone through so many iterations in recent years with developers who agree with that assessment, but something seems to happen that keeps changing it's ownership. Currently, the property is designated to be used by Elanco, for their world headquarters. Unless the team has created a partnership with Elanco, the site seems off the board since the Elanco renderings of the site utilize the entirety of the roughly 100 acres (shown in the above link). That being said, the linked article states (emphasis mine):
    With the purchase now executed, the state, city and Elanco will work together to advance a vision of walkable, mixed-use space that expands the boundaries of downtown Indianapolis across the White River and brings renewed vibrancy to the area for years to come. The site will be anchored by Elanco’s 45-acre global headquarters, which may expand up to 65 acres if the company exercises a restricted land option, and 10 acres of outdoor space along the site’s eastern-most border that will facilitate an expansion of White River State Park and improvements to the river and its western banks. 
    The city of Indianapolis will help increase accessibility to the site through construction of a new, two-way bridge across the river at the current location of Henry Street. In addition, the city and state will partner on the development of a new pedestrian bridge connecting both banks of the White River. The remaining property along the south and southwest sides of the former GM stamping plant site will be available for future mixed-use development that prioritizes connectivity, livability and a seamless integration with the adjacent neighborhoods.
    If that doesn't read like the Indy Eleven's "transformational neighborhood development" tagline, I don't know what does. So, it seriously wouldn't surprised me if this ended up being the site for the team. That the City is going to provide a walkable connection to the rest of downtown will only help with the connectivity. 
  • Lafayette Square Mall - This location consistently comes up as a potential site for the Eleven Park, for much the same reasons that the GM Stamping Plant does. Acres of space and a desire to transform it from its current struggling form. Just like the GM Stamping Plant, the Lafayette Square Mall recently underwent a recent change of ownership as it was sold from the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp to Indianapolis-based Perez Realty Group. In the IBJ's article about the change, Gabriela Perez, who is "the local property manager for Weston Property Management Company  - a Perez affiliate company that now operates the mall" stated that "discussions about the vision for the property are ongoing, with plans to share those details 'at the right moment'." That's developer and realtor speak, but that is also something that Indy Eleven has been saying a lot lately. Could Indy Eleven have worked a deal with Perez Realty Group for something at the mall site? At this point, I'm not going to rule it out, other than it doesn't fit into the team's long-standing statement that their preferred location is downtown Indianapolis. 
  • Indianapolis International Airport - This was a site that I evaluated last February when I found out that the Indianapolis International Airport Authority owned significant acreage north of the airport that they bought due to noise abatement needs. I went into a lot of details in that article, but I don't see it as realistic so I won't go into any more detail here. Though you can read more at the link to find out why it might not be so ridiculous.
  • 16th Street and Fall Creek Parkway - Another site that I have evaluated over the years, including as far back as my first attempt at evaluating locations in 2014. It's currently a city-owned park, so acquiring the property might be easier if the team was able to reincorporate some kind of park-like aspects to the development. There isn't much space for the rest of the development though, so the team would need to enact the Senate Enrolled Act 7 language mentioned above. 

  • Twin Aire - An old drive-in movie theater that is now the property of the City of Indianapolis, I evaluated this site a couple years ago after it was mentioned in an IBJ article. It has some promise, though is a bit outside of "downtown." It is located near the site where "the new Marion County Community Justice Campus will be built on the site of the former Citizens Energy coke plant on the east side." I'm not sure if that helps or not, but I think it fits into the "transformational development" criteria.
  • Broad Ripple High School - The former high school has been mentioned multiple times over the years because Ozdemir attached himself to the site at some point. I have many concerns about it (outside of downtown, traffic/parking concerns, not the largest site, etc.)

  • IUPUI/Carroll Stadium - Another site that we're all familiar with and that I first evaluated back in 2014, again in 2015, and then again recently, which are the images to the left and below; one with the stadium roughly located in the same spot as Carroll Stadium in a North-South orientation, as well as across the street near Beauty Avenue. Another site that has plenty of potential, but also substantial issues. Nothing that probably can't be overcome, but I'm not convinced this is a location that Indy Eleven wants to deal with long-term. No real basis for that, just a feeling I've had over the years about the difference between Eleven's desires and IUPUI's desires.
In a different article in 2015 about Indy Eleven stadium options, I discussed the possibility that the team should consider how to incorporate a mixed-used building into the design, particularly if it was located on the IUPUI campus. A grocery store built into the development would be a great connector between downtown, IUPUI, and Haughville, which is located just west of Carroll. Now the team has incorporated mixed-used buildings into the facility. I was ahead of my time...
  • Diamond Chain - Located near Lucas Oil Stadium, this site started gaining interest last February when the owners decided to relocate the facility. Like a few of the options, it has the issue of not being quite big enough for the entire development, but it's close to fitting the stadium. One of the main issues is that they indicated it would take two years to complete the process of closing the facility and it came into play after Greg Stremlaw indicated they had narrowed the site down to three locations.
  • White River State Park - This is another site that I evaluated in 2019, but I have so many concerns about it, that I'm including it here only for completeness, but I really don't believe it is a legitimate option.

  • Victory Field - Back in 2015, I evaluated the team using Victory Field for their games and has absolute no chance of being the site that the Eleven have selected, but I'm including it here because it was when I first called it Eleven Park during a stadium discussion. Another example of me being ahead of my time... 
  • National Starch - This is another site that I evaluated in 2014, but really have no basis for it. It has changed possession since then, but I still don't see it as a legitimate possibility.
  • Kuntz Stadium - Also one of the original locations I evaluated in 2014 for the obvious reasons of its connections to the history of professional soccer in Indiana. I ruled it out then because of the relatively small size of the site, as well as the parking constraints, but it would certainly help with the "transformational development" side of Indy Eleven's goals. I still don't believe it is the selected site, but weirder things have happened.
Now that I've run through all of the sites that I've previously discussed, and despite the fact that I don't think two of the three following sites are the selected location, I'm including them here for completeness because I really don't know where the team has selected. At this point, no place would surprise me. I also recently became keenly aware that there are numerous other locations scattered throughout downtown (and Marion County which is where Senate Enrolled Act 7 requires the development be located) that require some additional work/acquisition efforts that Indy Eleven might be willing to pursue. I've only evaluated what could be considered the low hanging fruit.

Sherman Park
Located on the near east side, at the intersection of Michigan Street and Sherman Drive are approximately 50+ acres that are currently owned by the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. While there are plans online for the location (see here, here, here, and here for information), it seems like updates on the plans for that development have stalled. Whether that means that the plans have fallen through, or changed, or the websites just aren't being updated, I don't know. Yet, the last update I could find (the fourth link above) was at the end of November that reads:
"Create greater local capacity to lead economic growth and development in urban neighborhoods in order to put into productive use underutilized space including brownfields."
That's vague enough to not be overtly consistent with anything from the team, but general enough that it could fit. 

This location is northeast of the Twin Aire site so it doesn't quite qualify as downtown, but maybe we can call it "downtown-ish." As one source indicated to me about the desired stadium location, "it's downtown until it isn't." Regardless, it's yet another property that is large enough to fit the stadium needs with extra space for some of the development and parking. It's also conveniently located near interstate access and public transportation stops, which is an added advantage. If it wasn't for the fact that I have already seen other development renderings for this site, the location definitely feels like one that could have come to the forefront for Indy Eleven. 

Brookville Industrial Park
While doing some other evaluations, I ran across the following site that is approximately 90 acres and owned by a group called Brookville Industrial Park LLC. I recently drove by the site and while downtown is visible from the area, it's clearly not "downtown." Located on the east side of Indy on Brookville Road, approximately 1.5 miles from Shadeland Avenue and 2 miles from I-465, it has easy access to the interstate. IndyGo public transportation is in the area as well. 

This site falls under the "maybe" category, mostly because of the team's statement about being "downtown." Years of struggling to find the site, financial assistance from the State that has a deadline, and a likely financially straining year under a pandemic may have forced Indy Eleven to expand their evaluations, but I'm not sure they have expanded away from downtown this much. Yet I'm keeping it under consideration because it does check a bunch of boxes as a potential location, particularly if Ozdemir and the rest of the ownership group has decided that downtown just can't work.

As I evaluated the Brookville site, and expanded my view to check it's distance from Shadeland and I-465, I noticed that there is an even larger asphalt patch to the northeast of the Brookville site.

Ford Facility 
Turns out that large patch of asphalt is nearly 150 acres that is currently owned by the Ford Motor Company. When I drove by this site, it's just acres and acres of asphalt and a temporary building that I suspect houses the guy in charge of keeping track of the site. This site dwarfs the Brookville Industrial Park and the GM Stamping Plant and those sites look massive. To provide a "transformational neighborhood development" in this location seems absolutely daunting. There is nothing there around it except a couple other factories. It would be the Indy Eleven creating a neighborhood, not transforming it.

Again, I'm not sure it's likely, but it is close to public transportation, close to interstate access, and way more than enough site to build the stadium and as much development as the team and Keystone Group could want to attempt to do. You can just see it in the below image, but there is a walking trail just to the north of the site called Pennsy Trail. This trail extends all the way into the heart of the Irvington neighborhood, which could provide for another connection beyond cars or buses. 

I don't know the status of whether the Ford Motor Company is looking to sell the property, but I think I remember seeing realty signs as I drove by it. The site definitely doesn't fit the "downtown" moniker, but like my evaluation of the Brookville site, things may have forced the team to expand their options.

Indy Eleven have indicated that they will announce the location by the end of March. At which point, my 7 years of site speculation will come to an end and I can shift towards the amenities that supporters might want and value in a stadium dedicated to predominantly housing Indy Eleven (and eventually, hopefully a women's side and an academy side?). 

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