In January, the soccer community in Indiana was abuzz by the news that Peter Wilt, architect of MLS' Chicago Fire, had been hired to launch a North American Soccer League expansion team in Indianapolis. A season ticket deposit drive was started and in the three months since that announcement the team has hit the 3,000 mark, indicating the strong potential fan support. Today, fans learned the identity of the team that will represent them in the NASL.
Before a strong crowd of about 400 supporters at Indianapolis' Monument Circle, a group of dignitaries including Wilt, team owner Erzal Ozdemir, and Indianapolis' mayor Greg Ballard stood in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument to unveil the team crest and name, the Indy Eleven.
The team's identity was chosen to evoke many civic connections. The unique name actually has much more significance than just the fact that there are 11 players a side in a soccer game. The name is intended to pay homage to the 11th Regiment Indiana Infantry, a unit that fought with the Union Army in the Civil War, that was actually founded on this day (April 25) in 1861.
The crest consists of "Lady Victory", the statue that sits at the top of Indy's Soldiers and Sailors monument set over a red checkerboard background, an homage to not only the city's connection to auto racing but, as Wilt stated, to pay tribute to a local soccer supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Founded in August 2011, the group mobilized other local soccer fans to draw attention for the passion for the sport in the city, hoping to attract a pro team. When the franchise was officially announced this past January, the Battalion was up on the stage behind the front office crew. The colors of red, white, navy blue, and the star element are references to the city flag of Indianapolis.
As for where the team will play, the long-term goal is to establish a soccer-specific stadium somewhere in the downtown core. Until then, the team will take the field of a renovated Carroll Stadium (pictured above), on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, just west of downtown Indianapolis. Renovations are expected to include framing the playing surface in by building additional seating and suites over the running track. The capacity currently sits at 12,111 but is expected to be lowered once the renovation process is finished.
The Eleven are one of four teams currently slated to join the (currently) seven-team league. The famed New York Cosmos will join for the 2013 fall season, starting in late July/early August. They'll play at Shuart Stadium, on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The Ottawa Fury will play at the renovated Frank Clair Stadium and the Virginia Cavalry will play at a to-be constructed 6,000-seat minor league baseball stadium in Loudoun County, VA. Ottawa and Virginia will join Indy for the NASL's 2014 Spring Season.
You can get more information plus links to news, social media, and team merchandise at the newly-launched IndyEleven.com.