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Friday, May 17, 2024

Indianapolis Officially Vying for MLS Expansion Team

  • The mayor announced plans to officially bid for an MLS team after talking with the commissioner.
  • The city is already constructing a mixed-use development with a new soccer stadium for its USL team.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis is having quite a month between signing Caitlin Clark to the Fever and the Pacers getting their first playoff win since 2018. Looking to keep the good times rolling, the city announced Thursday its plans to bid for an MLS expansion team.

The city is currently developing a new $1 billion mixed-use facility called Eleven Park that will house a stadium for its USL team, Indy Eleven. The team unsuccessfully sought promotion to MLS in 2017 and ’19. Hours before Mayor Joe Hogsett unveiled his MLS dreams, Eleven Park’s developer accused him of “preparing to walk away” from the project. The area is set to include apartments, a music venue, retail, and offices, and developers say Indy Eleven should be ready to play there by summer ’25.

The mayor said he submitted a new proposal with the city to put a soccer stadium downtown that included a possible ownership group and plan for public funding. Hogsett said he flew to New York City on Monday, and he felt confident announcing the planned bid after his conversation with MLS commissioner Don Garber.

“I am well aware that this new venture presents no guarantee, but every great achievement in our city’s history has begun where opportunity was met with action,” Hogsett said.

Indianapolis will certainly have to pay up as MLS team valuations are on the rise. The $500 million price tag on the league’s next expansion team in San Diego set an MLS record in May 2023. The club will become the league’s 30th team when it kicks off in ’25.

Hogsett said “an experienced and well-respected sports executive, who has held leadership roles in MLS and global soccer” was at the helm of the investor group. That exec is Tom Glick, The Athletic reports, who left Chelsea in November after serving as the club’s president of business. Glick has also held the roles of president of Tepper Sports & Entertainment (the group that owns the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC), president of New York City FC, and chief commercial officer of Manchester City.

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