Indy Eleven President Says End-Game Is Major League Soccer In Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS -- Earlier this week, the Indy Eleven announced their intention to part ways with the North American Soccer League in favor of the United Soccer League.
Many reasons were given for the decision to change leagues says Indy Eleven President Jeff Belskus. He told 93 WIBC's Tony Katz the resounding reason was instability in the NASL.
"NASL's future is a little uncertain," Belskus said. "They were Division II last year and at this point do not have any official standing with the United States Soccer Federation."
The USSF is the governing body of all pro-soccer in the United States, setting standards, rules, and guidelines for leagues like the USL and Major League Soccer. The NASL had been recognized by U.S. Soccer until this year, when the federation did not renew the league's Division II status, as Belskus alludes too.
As a result, the NASL cancelled it's spring-season.
In joining the United Soccer League, the Indy Eleven's status is comparable to that of the Indianapolis Indians in Minor League Baseball and of the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. The USL was granted Division II status after showing promise with over 20 participating teams with solid attendance numbers.
The move also opens the Indy Eleven up to more regional rivalries with nearby teams in Louisville, Cincinnati and Nashville. It also renews the possibility of the team moving from a make shift operation at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium to Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We're exploring it, but it is our preference to play there," Belskus continued. "Carroll Stadium is out home for now, but if we can put something together to play at Lucas Oil we will do so."
Belskus says Carroll Stadium has been good to the team in their short existence, but says the facilities there just don't fully accommodate the team's needs. He compares Lucas Oil Stadium and Carroll Stadium to that of a Cadillac and a 15-year-old used car. Belskus is also confident a move to Lucas Oil would cause attendance at Indy Eleven games to sky rocket.
However, he has not given up hope on the possibility of building a brand new soccer-specific for the team. Belskus says the end-game is to bring Major League Soccer to the Indianapolis market, and that "a soccer-specific stadium is a requirement" for that to happen.
The Indy Eleven was one of over 40 teams to bid for four MLS expansion spots last year, but came up short in that effort.