Indy Eleven to Play 2018 Home Games At Lucas Oil Stadium
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indy Eleven will play most of its home games at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018.
It's a step in the right direction from playing in Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI, according to team owner Erzal Ozdemir.
"Despite playing our games in a converted track and field venue, the team attracted a devoted and dedicated following," Ozdemir said Monday. "The team led the league in attendance, averaging over 9,000 fans a game, and proved that they are a considerable driver of our city's economy."
Ozdemir says other main reasons for the move include better amenities for fans and players and climate control.
The Indy Eleven's first home game of the 2018 season will be against FC Cincinnati, the team's "new rival", according to Ozdemir. Opening kick for that game will be Saturday, March 31.
Mayor Joe Hogsett says Indy Eleven's move to Lucas Oil is another example of how sports fans in Indianapolis continue the tradition of making the Capital City one of the best sports cities in the country.
"With the Indy Eleven set to take this field next season, soccer fans will continue that tradition," Hogsett said. "It's no surprise that soccer is on the rise here in Indianapolis...as the people of our city have a passion for sports across the board."
This is the latest in a variety of changes the team is making.
Earlier this month, the team announced its intentions to leave the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the United Soccer League (USL). The news came just as the NASL informed the team that the league was canceling their upcoming spring season.
The team tried to join Major League Soccer in 2017, after MLS announced it would be adding four expansion franchises. Indianapolis submitted a bid, but came up short; the bids went instead to Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento.
However, hope is not lost on the possibility the Indy Eleven could be in the MLS soon.
MLS says they plan to add two more expansion franchises down the road. Indy Eleven Team President Jeff Belskus told 93 WIBC earlier this month the ability to play games at Lucas Oil Stadium will increase the chances of Indianapolis landing an MLS franchise in the future.
The team's ability to draw a big enough crowd has been a big question moving forward, even though owner Erzal Ozdemir says Indy Eleven fans led the NASL in attendance.
But, if a soccer game played at Lucas Oil in 2013 is any indication, the team shouldn't have too much trouble selling seats.
The game five years ago was a Guinness Internationals Champions Cup game between Chelsea FC and Inter Milan, both prominent professional teams in Europe. 42,000 fans gathered to watch the match.
Lucas Oil Stadium has a seating capacity of 70,000, but it is highly unlikely all of those seats will be made available to Indy Eleven fans.
(PHOTO: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)