Eleven Park clears a massive hurdle as stadium bills move to House
Like rumbles of thunder, the discussion following the original hearing began to happen as fans wondered what would happen to the “MLS tag” that was tied to Senate Bill 7/Eleven Park as it moved from the Indiana State Senate to the Indiana House and the House Ways and Means committee. Many, including myself, deemed it a tough ask but fairly expected given both the logical explanation behind its requirement as well as the shadows still cast from Lucas Oil Stadium’s funding which still affects residents today.
Many fans wondered if the House would be daring enough to attempt to remove the requirement for a professional soccer team to be a member of Major League Soccer before it could be eligible to build a soccer-specific stadium.
Amendment 20 was proposed by Co-Chairman Representative Todd Huston, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, allowed for language to be struck from the soccer stadium specific portion of the bill that would require a professional soccer team to be a member of Major League Soccer before the Capital Improvement Board would be allowed to negotiate a lease for the stadium.
Huston’s amendment removed the MLS requirement opening the door for Indy Eleven to be eligible for the stadium prior to any moves to MLS. This has been a goal of principal team owner Ersal Ozdemir since starting the Eleven Park process this year. The 20,000 plus attendance for the home opener evidently was massive in removing the MLS requirement.
Trouble with MLS
The darkness behind the MLS expansion process clearly played a role in the decision by Representative Huston. Unlike most sports which have a clearer and more direct understanding of the expansion process Major League Soccer makes their expansion process as clear as muddy water. Often discussed and rarely understand, it’s difficult at this stage to see how many teams after Miami will be added to the league, how quickly they will be added, and just generally understanding the expansion timelines.
For Indy Eleven, this is a major step towards accomplishing these goals. Regardless of whether or not the team plans to explore joining MLS the stadium will help secure a future that is strong, more marketable, and for the hopes of both the state, city, the team, and fans, profitable.
Where it goes from here
With one hurdle cleared, Senate Bill 7 moves from the House Ways and Means committee to the House. The House will have a similar debate that the bill had on the Senate floor.
If the bill passes on a vote with no additional amendments:
- The bill moves to Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature
- From there, the timelines in the bill for Indy Eleven would begin.
The key thing to remember is even if the bill is signed there are still a huge list of things that will need to be done before a nail can be hit into a board.
If the bill has additional amendments on the House floor:
- Likely, the bill, if amended, would be moved into a “special conference session” with a member of both the House and Senate.
- The Senate and the House members would need to get to an agreement on the bill before it could be passed
- From the special conference, it would head to Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature
The moral of the story is this. Today has been a victory for the supporters of Eleven Park and fans of Indy Eleven vying for a stadium to call their own. It’s a long road, it’s a winding road, but the movement has passed a massive hurdle and arguably the biggest hurdle it could face in its life. Eleven Park is on to it’s next step!