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Stadium Issues Hinder Indy Eleven MLS Bid; Team Will Not Give Up

Indy Eleven President John Belskus says the team and Indianapolis will not give up on effort to join Major League Soccer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even though Indianapolis didn't make the cut in the latest expansion by Major League Soccer, the Indy Eleven are not giving up their push to become an MLS franchise.

Indianapolis was one of several cities bidding on two expansion spots in MLS this past year.

Indy made the semi-finals of the bidding process, but was not listed among the four finalists earlier this month. Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento are the "final four."

"We are not surprised by the announcement," said Indy Eleven President John Belskus. "We've always understood that the criteria MLS weighs for considering expansion includes the market, ownership group and stadium plans."

Belskus tells Inside Indiana Business that the "planning and implementation of a stadium" is the big sticking point of Indy's MLS bid. One of the MLS pillars of consideration for an expansion franchise, which Belskus believes are not equally weighted, states each MLS team must have a stadium of at least 20,000 seats. 

"Our situation today is less than ideal, with playing at Carroll Stadium at IUPUI," Belskus says of the stadium concerns. "It's an old track and field stadium that has been converted to a soccer facility."

Carroll Stadium, site of the 1987 Pan American Games, seats only 10,000 fans for Indy Eleven games, well short of the 20,000 bench mark set by MLS. Belskus says they will continue to work to iron out the stadium issues as they move forward. 

For now, the Indy Eleven must be content with competing in the North American Soccer League (NASL). However, there is hope. Major League Soccer says that Indianapolis will be among the contenders for two more possible expansion slots in the coming years.

(Inside Indiana Business contributed to this story)

(PHOTO: RTV6)

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