Indy Eleven exec doesn’t dismiss renovated IUPUI stadium out of hand, pigs seen airborne

Indy Eleven president Peter Wilt has responded to Indiana state senator Brandt Hershman’s proposal to renovate IUPUI’s stadium for $20 million instead of building a new one for $82 million, and … he doesn’t hate it!

“Our partnership with Indiana University and IUPUI has been a critical part of our initial success, and having the campus option as a possibility for the stadium is one that we support,” Wilt’s statement said…

“We understand that the legislative process is a long journey and we look forward to continuing this dialogue … on Tuesday,” Wilt’s statement said.

Okay, that’s not exactly jumping for joy, and may well be nothing more than an acknowledgment that they know they have to work with the state senate on any stadium deal, not dismiss its proposals out of hand. Still, it does open up the possibility of renovation as an alternative, which is both 1) a possible way to save the state a ton of money and 2) the kind of thing that sports team owners typically dismiss out of hand with some statement about needing a “state of the art” facility. (Or, as a New York City development official once said of the Yankees‘ demands for a new stadium, renovations couldn’t provide “an adequate number of ladies’ rooms.”)

So, would $20 million for stadium upgrades for a minor-league soccer stadium be a good deal? That all depends on what the state would be getting back: If it’s some actual rent payments or revenue sharing, or a long-term lease for the team (as much as any NASL team’s signature on a lease can ever be said to be “long-term”), or something that IUPUI will actually be able to get some use of, then sure, maybe. In any case, $20 million would be a lot less of a heavy lift to make work than $82 million, and not building a whole new stadium when you have an old one that is already drawing well is always a good idea for everyone’s budget and carbon footprint. It’s bad for construction workers, I guess, but they can work on the renovations, and that extra $62 million will end up being spent on something. You see why I’m not generally a fan of new stadiums at all when it can be avoided? It’s really not just that I don’t like cupholders.

9 comments on “Indy Eleven exec doesn’t dismiss renovated IUPUI stadium out of hand, pigs seen airborne

  1. This may be pure practicality talking. My guess is that the owner has told Peter Wilt that the team will fold in a few years if they have to keep playing in an un-renovated stadium. If Wilt has been given the signal from the legislature that a new stadium ain’t happening, then it makes sense to support something that will at least keep the team in business.

  2. If the team were really going to fold in an unrenovated stadium, I doubt $20m in upgrades would be enough to save them.

  3. I think it’s pretty clear the owner shot for the moon with an absurd demand and wound up getting a bit more than he expected with the $20M renovation so he’s happy.

  4. I still expect the team to fold if attendance ever sags, but a nicer stadium makes that less likely.

  5. The renovation will be great for NASL. I agree with Neil, it’s a lot of money for minor league soccer, especially knowing that venue won’t get Indy an MLS bid.

    MLS has been pretty tough on Miami, and they actually want Miami in the leagues a hell of a lot more than Indy. This has to be a long term NASL play, if they do decide to renovate.

  6. I don’t honestly think MLS gives a crap whether there’s a team in Miami. They want Beckham to have a successful franchise, because he’s guaranteed one so they want to make sure it works, but if it’s not in Miami, no skin off the league’s nose.

  7. Right, which is why Indy might not even get a MLS bid either way, who’s knows?

    However, you have to assume MLS has an eye set on Miami & San Antonio for their Hispanic/Cuban population. Sure, Miami’s already been selected, but the fact that the league’s so adamant on having the “right” venue just shows how they won’t even adjust that demand for a city like Miami – much less Indy. Thus, renovating IUPUI’s stadium isn’t a bad option, but by doing so would be a step in the direction away from MLS, which also isn’t bad thing.

    I’m of the mindset, similar to you, that MLS hasn’t proven itself to be sustainable at this size yet without raking in all these expansion fees.

  8. Neil: Is Beckham “guaranteed” a franchise? He exercised an option to buy one at $25 million, which is now a significant discount. There was one deadline that came and went with little fanfare. Garber has given off little noises of impatience, and surely MLS has the right to invoke a deadline. Considering that MLS franchises are commanding somewhere around $100 million, would the league really mind if Beckham’s Miami effort fails? There are other would-be franchisees ready to throw far more than $25 million at the league.

  9. I don’t think anyone knows exactly what Beckham’s contract clause says, do we? Everything I’ve seen so far is that he had an option to buy an expansion team for $25 million, which he’s now exercised; however, he still needs to get MLS approval of where to put that team, which is what’s held up in the case of Miami.

    If MLS wanted to tell Beckham to take a hike, could they just keep rejecting his proposed franchises while collecting bigger expansion fees from other new owners? That’s where you’d need to see the actual contract language, and probably get some lawyers involved.