Only thing standing between Indianapolis and MLS is meeting league’s stadium extortion demands

It’s a hectic Monday morning, and time for a quick game of “What have been newspapers been spinning inappropriately this weekend?” First up, the Indianapolis Star:

Unless the General Assembly finds surprise funding for a new stadium in the coming days, Indy Eleven has no discernible path to join America’s premier professional soccer league.

VERDICT: Yes, but… There’s no reason MLS can’t approve Indy Eleven as an expansion franchise without a new stadium — as recently as two years ago there was talk about the team owners settling for upgrades on their current stadium — except that the league is dedicated to a business model based on “bring us a $150 million check and some new stadium blueprints, and you’re cool.” A more accurate report would have been something along the lines of “Indy Eleven is ready to make the leap, but MLS is holding out for stadium subsidies” — but that would have made the sports league the bad guys instead of the politicians, and this is a business column and team owner Ersal Ozdemir is a major local businessman, so.


18 comments on “Only thing standing between Indianapolis and MLS is meeting league’s stadium extortion demands

  1. Even if Indianapolis hands over billions the way they have to the Colts , Pacers & even the WNBA . The competition from strategic vital cities will still keep them out at least this round.

  2. Who said anything about stadium subsidies. The owners could pay for it themselves, as was the case in LA (twice), Orlando, San Jose, and a few other MLS cities. I like the site, but you always spin it to your point of view. What’s wrong with MLS demanding a stadium? They set the rules, but those rules don’t state it has to use public funds. Orlando had that demand and they managed to get it done without taxpayer subsidies. The blame here is on the team for wanting a free stadium.

  3. This isn’t an NHL expansion round where only one city has submitted a bid. MLS has 12 cities wanting in. They can pick n choose and also demand a good location in a cities inner core. Fact is poor location or substandard stadia have limited the leagues success in some cities.

  4. The MLS is headed in the same direction as Minor League Baseball
    did in the 90’s with too many teams and stadiums and some cities teams will fold with white elephants that used to be soccer stadiums. Here in NJ
    we have 2 abandoned minor league Baseball stadiums and one is going to be torn down and not even paid off.

    • New York city alone has 4 publicly subsidized baseball parks. In Chicago we have 4 in the metro area. Are you really comparing a business that receives billions in welfare to a business that hasn’t even reached a billion nationwide at all levels combined. Towns across the US continue to build parks even for shady fly by night leagues.

    • BTW I believe Newark passed on the Red bulls arena to pursue minor league baseball. HA HA ! Some real idiots running that city.

  5. Stadium extortions aside, I can’t understand why middle-market areas that are struggling to support 2-3 teams (all with never ending stadium demands) are trying to get in on MLS. It makes far more sense for MLS to go to relatively underserved sports markets like Orlando, Sacramento, and Portland, rather than middle markets like Indianapolis that already have 2-3 teams.

    Then again the topic here is stadium extortions against willing partners, so logic does not come into play here.

    • I’ll go a step further – the ideal MLS expansion outside of the top 10 metro areas are cities that have either NBA or NHL in the winter, no other big 4 teams, and a long shot to get MLB in the future.

      • So, Sacto/San Antonio/Memphis/OKC?

        If a MLB team is OK, that adds St Louis (a good MLS market based on USMNT attendance) and Milwaukee…

  6. There’s little overlap of hardcore soccer fans and other sports . Competition from other leagues only comes into play for corporate sponsorship and media coverage. When the owner of the Falcons surveyed fans for soccer interest prior to buying into MLS he was floored to find out only a 3% overlap. Fact is once you develop an appetite for sport without commercial breaks and timeouts its extremely difficult to watch sports that have it.

    • I don’t believe that to be the case after MLS has arrived, however (at least not in successful MLS markets) – at some point you have to branch off from the hardcore fans (most of whom sit in the supporter sections, make tifos, travel for away games , etc.) and get the fans who enjoy live pro sports period. A mid market city that already has MLB in particular, or that has NFL+NBA/NHL, is going to find it tough to support MLS as well regardless of whether they have a hard core soccer fan base. And oh yeah, more importantly, why should the city get fleeced on yet another stadium in addition to the other ones that they are struggling to keep “state of the art”?

      • Its in the demographics. The National team yes draws from every group and it shows in TV ratings. However currently MLS is basically millennials , Hispanics and soccer families. That’s why no Viagra commercials ! Yes with time they will also have to draw from all demos but that take another generation or two that grows up with MLS.

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