Two backhoes with an Indy Eleven flag unfurled between the two arms of each machine. That is what spectators saw in the parking lot behind the old Diamond Chain Factory in downtown Indianapolis. This sight marked the city moving on to the next stepping stone of what has been a really long path. Today, the city started construction on the brand new Indy Eleven Stadium and Sporting district. So how did we get here?
The Eleven Home at the Genesis
The Indy Eleven was founded back in 2013 to play in, the now defunct, North American Soccer League. When the club first came to fruition, the team called Michael A. Carroll Stadium home. This is a venue shared with the IUPUI soccer and track team. Look, I love the Mike. It has a great atmosphere, but a replacement was long overdue. It always felt strange that our professional soccer team shared a venue with a college. When your logo is Lady Victory from the Soldiers and Sailors monument, it is pretty strange that a jaguar’s head is at midfield. It felt as though, as long as we were playing in that stadium, the Indy Eleven would never get any respect.
The First Move
In an attempt to get that respect, the Eleven underwent its first venue change. For the 2018 season, the team packed up and moved a few blocks south to the home of the Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium. When this move was announced, I was skeptical. Absolutely zero chance the Eleven would be able to fill those seats. The entire balcony and upper level seats would be empty. What would that do to the atmosphere? My worries were well-founded. The first game I attended there felt so much more empty than the Mike and it probably had more people. But with so many empty seats the atmosphere felt extremely hollow. I was practically begging for the Eleven to move back to the Mike.
The Second Move
I wasn’t the only one that held this sentiment, obviously, as the team decided to make the move back to the Mike before the start of the 2021 season. Though I was thrilled to be back in a place where the fans could create a raucous atmosphere, I still longed for something more. The Indy Eleven needed their own stadium
The Final Move
Indy Eleven fans waited patiently since the team’s creation for an announcement of the team getting its own stadium. The fans were generously rewarded for that patience. In February 2023 fans were treated to the first look at Elven Park, a stadium that is scheduled to open for the 2025 season. But not just a stadium, a whole new district for the city. To accompany the stadium is a multitude of other projects that include hotels, restaurants, apartments, and an outdoor plaza/leisure area. The total project is estimated to cost one billion dollars.
So enjoy the next couple of years, Indy fans, as we say goodbye to the Mike and watch our new home be erected on the southwest side of downtown.