The failed Dunkin Donuts franchisee who says he wants to build a $500 million sports-medicine complex on the site of Indianapolis’s old airport terminal and include a sports venue of some kind now says he wants to bring an MLS franchise to town:
Craig Sanders, co-founder of Athletes Business Network, said he has been in talks with MLS to get a team for the planned 20,000-seat stadium near Washington Street and High School Road. He said he already has identified a management team to run the club if the MLS approves.
“We believe we have as good a chance as any (city) to make that happen,” Sanders said…
Sanders said it would cost ABN about $125 million in franchise fees and other costs to join the MLS, and the league still would need to do a market study to make sure the city could support a pro team.
Before you say, “Hey, doesn’t Indianapolis already have a minor-league soccer team, Indy Eleven, whose owner says he’s going to apply to move to MLS once somebody gives him $82 million for a new stadium,” I’ll save you a mouthful: Yes, yes it does. Which means Sanders is almost certainly just trying to stir up headlines for his project by throwing around the MLS name — hey, all it takes is a press release and a call to the league offices so you can say you’ve had “talks.” Well done, bankrupt donut magnate.
File this under “probably just trying to get publicity, but”: A developer who wants to build a $500 million (!) sports medical complex (!!) on the site of Indianapolis’s old airport terminal says he’s looking to build a 20,000-seat arena or stadium (!!!) as part of the plan. And Athletes Business Network Holdings co-founder Craig Sanders says he’s “having very active discussions with sports organizations outside of Indiana, professional and amateur,” though he wouldn’t say which ones.
Which ones is a huge question, since the Pacers and minor-league baseball Indians already have their own venues, and Sanders says he hasn’t had any talks with the owners of Indy Eleven, who want a new stadium but prefer it to be downtown. That leaves the NHL, maybe, but there’s been no talk of interest in Indianapolis by that league. The WNBA Fever are owned by the Pacers, so now we’re down to things like arena football and futsal, neither of which is going to be enough to anchor an arena. Nor are concerts, frankly, considering the venue would be competing with the Pacers’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse for events.
Still, as someone always on the lookout for outside-the-box ways to finance sports facilities that don’t involve massive public subsidies, “build it as a loss leader for a for-profit medical center” isn’t the craziest idea, quite. The airport board is expected to approve ABN tomorrow as the winning bidder to develop the site, so ball (or puck) is in their court now. They already have renderings!