Sunday, May 19, 2013

Potential Locations for a Future Indy Eleven Stadium

The Eleven will temporarily be playing (2-3 years?) at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, but they have already stated a desire for a soccer-only stadium in downtown Indy. That leads to the question…. where?

It’s best to get an idea of the potential footprint of a stadium first. With that in mind, let’s look at the new stadium for the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions (the league leader in attendance, something that the Eleven should shoot for with their already impressive season ticket deposit numbers, currently over 3,350).
It’s so new that it doesn't  show up on Google Maps or Google Earth yet, so doing some sleuthing (maps, their official website, renderings, Ticketmaster stadium layout image) this is a basic idea of the stadium size on the land they have:

Toyota Field, San Antonio, TX

There’s probably a bit of error in the scale, but it’s surely close (compare to this rendering)
I've heard a few ideas for locations in/near downtown Indianapolis, and come up with one of my own as well. So let’s take a look:

Carroll Stadium Site
One possibility is using the land near/around Carroll Stadium, cut a deal with IUPUI to basically share use.

Pros:

  • Would be close to the temporary grounds.
  • Easy access to parking and downtown
  • Leverage the White River for a nice view, as well as easy view to the downtown skyline

Cons:

  • It’s a bit of a hike to any bars for pre- or post-game drinking and gathering
  • It would wipe out a couple of baseball fields that is probably used for intramural. Those could theoretically be replaced with ones on the current Carroll Stadium footprint.
  • The White River Trail would need to be adjusted around it, and who knows what infrastructure issues would arise from building right next to the river like that.
  • Cost? Who knows what kind of deal would need to be struck with IUPUI
  • Size would be a bit restricted, potentially hampering expansion plans if success is sustained, an MLS bid is desired, etc.
  • Transit access - there’s a bus line that is near there but New York is a one way east street, making access via transit and car difficult.

East Market Street*
The former site of the Indiana Pacers’ Market Square Arena has sat empty for over a decade. Various plans have fallen through to use it.

*Of course just a day or two after my original posting, news comes across that they are closer to picking a developer for a potion of this lot, although I'm not sure whether it's the block to the north of my proposed location or within the area I think would work for a stadium. Either way, it makes the East Market Street location even less likely but I'm keeping my write up here for posterity.



Pros

  • A truly urban stadium, just steps from the true center of the city
  • Lots of nightlife, bars, restaurants steps away
  • No one would miss it, fantastic publicity and would show the city is taking soccer incredibly seriously.
  • Transit access - Close to LOTS of current transit lines as well as proposed IndyConnect transit lines (if that ever passes and gets done) and people are used to driving downtown for immediate downtown activities.

Cons

  • The Toyota Field footprint crosses over into the streets a bit, so the stadium would be restricted in how big it could be, potentially restricting future growth potential. Even worse expansion restriction than the Carroll Stadium site.
  • Cost. While the city would probably be thrilled to finally get some development on that land, I doubt it would come cheap - either on the front end or on the back end in construction and taxes

The Old GM Stamping Plant
Just west across the White River, and south of Washington Street from White River State Park and the Indianapolis Zoo lies a HUGE HUGE HUGE unused piece of land that used to be a GM plant. This thing is so huge that at the same scale we only see a portion of it. North of the image below is the Zoo & White River State Park. East is the White River, across that lying a bunch of gritty industrial property (used and unused.. we’ll get to that later), and east of THAT is Lucas Oil Stadium.

Pros

  • LOTS of land for expansion of the stadium if that comes to pass.
  • That much land could lead to the creation of a whole soccer complex to support amateur soccer infrastructure for all levels of the sport
  • If the stadium is oriented right, could be a really cool view across the river to downtown - the view would include the river, Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field, JW Marriott building and the whole downtown skyline.
  • Crazy good pre-game tailgating potential.

Cons

  • Cost… demolition could get pricey and who knows if there are environmental issues under that land and all those factory buildings.
  • Barely could be considered ‘downtown’. It’s not really easily accessible from downtown. While it’s technically close as the crow flies, it’s not practically close. So forget heading to a bar before or after the game, drawing people that are already downtown for conventions or visiting to head over to the stadium, any of that.
  • Transit Access - it’s right off Washington, but that street there is more of a really wide avenue or parkway, so it’s not pedestrian friendly. 

West & McCarty Streets
This is the one I thought of driving by the other day. Just across the river from the GM plant is a swath of industrial sites, some of which have been torn down and lie empty. One of these areas is at West & McCarty streets, within shouting distance of Lucas Oil Stadium. One block east is the Lucas Oil Stadium complex. A quarter mile west lies the White River.

Pros

  • This would turn the SW Quad of downtown into a Stadium District - all within a square mile would lie Victory Field, Lucas Oil Stadium and Indy Eleven Stadium.
  • A decent amount of land is available for expansion and a full soccer complex.
  • Not as good as East Market, but decent access to bars (there are a few there on West Street) and Colts fans already are used to hitting the bars around downtown and walking to Lucas Oil - this would just be a slightly longer walk.
  • No existing infrastructure to tear down
  • Could pitch it to the city as a way to help continue the revitalization of the SW Of Downtown area, which hasn’t boomed as expected after the Lucas Oil opening

Cons

  • It’s better than the GM Plant location, but still barely ‘downtown’ by the official definition. 
  • An odd lot shape could be tough to work with
  • What do you think?  Have any other downtown(ish) locations you’d like to see used?


Footnote: I specifically didn't consider a suburban site because I think that’s just a plan bad idea. Not only are you saying that the only people welcome are those that can drive in their car, it goes against the very model of success of sports in Indianapolis - downtown locations bringing together fans, tourists and locals.

About This New Face On BBB
I'm relatively new to the sport, just started getting into it and becoming a fan mostly via a lot of Everton (EPL) matches and watching some MLS when I can as well. I'm also coordinating the Indiana Evertonians group here in Indiana (twitter: @IN_Evertonians. Facebook Group) When I heard Indy would be getting a team, I was thrilled to have a local team to support. My wife and I were first day Indy Eleven season ticket buyers and I also immediately signed up for the Brickyard Battalion. I dig nerdy things like infrastructure, uniform design and the like.Also a season ticket holder for the Colts, a fan of the Pacers, Indy Indians, and Detroit Red Wings.


Until next time, Brick 'Em Up!
Jason (@xtrarant)

6 comments:

  1. I would love to see it on market close to mass ave. But we would need an actual MLS team to use that land. SW by Lucas Oil would be a great idea hopefully like you said it would help to develop down there.

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  2. Please please please don't consider IUPUIs intramural fields. We have a hard enough time getting permission to use them in the first place. These are the only fields (on school propert) that the students are allowed to be on without a permit to play a pick up game on.

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    Replies
    1. I have heard IUPUI intends to use this ground for future student housing.

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  3. Excellent analysis! Lots of great ideas here. Sending this Ersal Ozdemir's way?

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  4. I think the Carroll plan would be out, about 30% of the image belongs to White River park and not IUPUI, also I have hear that this land is a planned site for further student housing. Also IUPUI's parking would have to be used, no tailgating, no grills no alcohol.

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