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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Professional soccer returned to the city of Indianapolis for the first time in a decade in 2014 with the Indy Eleven of the North American Soccer League. The team was named after the 11th Indiana Infantry Regiment that served with notoriety in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It also matches the number of men on a soccer field during a game.
The team calls Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium on the campus of IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis home. The 12,100-seat stadium opened in 1982 and serves as the home to the university’s soccer and track & field programs. For Indy Eleven games, the stadium's official capacity is set at 9,702.
There were $1 million in improvements made to the stadium prior to the first season that included additional bathrooms, portable concession stands, seating areas, and 11 private suites and two premier party decks.
The club burst onto the scene in fashion leading the NASL in attendance with 10,465 in 2014, the club would top the league once again the following year with an average crowd of 9,809. Its success at the gate prompted team officials to push for the funding of a new stadium of its own downtown; the Indiana Senate offered $20 million in bonds to renovate current stadium.
The Eleven continue making games an event at “The Mike” with tailgating, family activities, and various tents and games setup before each home match. A strong dedicated fan base supports its boys in blue and the Brickyard Battalion supporter group provide the theatrics during the 90 minutes of soccer on the synthetic field.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concession stands are located at ground level of the stadium at both ends of the field's perimeter. The prices are feasible with most items cost between $4 and $6.
The list of gameday delights include hot dogs ($5), cheeseburgers ($4), brats ($6), corn dogs ($4), nachos ($4), and pretzels ($4). There are individual Donato's Pizza ($6), meatball subs ($4), breadsticks ($5), and boneless wings ($6).
For a more local fare, Gordon's Ice Cream is served in heaping portions for $5 and come in 8 different flavors including coconut rum cake and lemon Oreo. Broad Ripple Chip Company serves original and spicy bags of of homemade potato chips for $5 and Hoosier Popcorn is affordable at $3 and $5 a bag.
The beer choices include 10 different varieties from Bud and Bud Light to Urban Chestnut IPA and Old Tavern Beer from People's Brewing Company in nearby Lafayette. The domestics run for $7 and craft and import for $9. Coca-Cola products are available for $4 at the game.
The gameday experience at Carroll Stadium is among the best in the league. The stadium itself is rather trite and features a track surrounding the soccer pitch, but the supporters and game day ambiance give it a much needed injection of passion that is remarkable.
Upon parking your vehicle you will witness copious supporters decked out in club gear tailgating and hoisting banners. Once inside the main entrance, there is an array of tents from local merchants and local business owners.There is also plenty of team signage throughout the concourse that make the stadium feel like the Eleven's home.
The team's official mascot Zeke is a dog dressed in Civil War regalia, while two live dogs, Victorio and Victoria, roam the stadium with their owner. You may even spot a band playing music before an evening match and even more supporters hoisting up Indy Eleven scarves as they make their way to their seats.
The team features 11 suites on the north end of the field, but the majority of the seating configurations are on the opposite side of the pitch. This area is broken up into two sections and the higher level seating gives you a majestic view of the field and the surrounding city landscape.
Unfortunately, there is not a wide open concourse surrounding the stadium or shade from either sun or possible rainshowes during a central Indiana spring or summer. There is not a bad seat in the house and the further you walk about the main seating area, the better the view of the pitch and city skyline and campus building.
Carroll Stadium is a few short blocks from the center of town, but you will need either a car or taxi. The Mass Ave. section is where many of the fans gather for a nightcap. The Chatham Tap Restaurant & Pub is an official meeting place for the team and features great food and a soccer friendly atmosphere.
Pizzology features homemade meats, pastas and pizzas in a hip setting. Union 50 is an upscale bar and restaurant that includes live music in an old converted building. The Eagle is a midwest establishment that is home to some of the best fried chicken, while Bakersfield is a taco and tequila bar offering amazing tortas and beer served in glass boots. St, Joseph's Brewery is a converted Catholic church with craft brewed beer and scrumptious main dishes.
The Indy Eleven have finished either number one or two with attendance numbers in NASL since its inception. The organization has tapped into a strong soccer market in the city that's blossoming with both Generation X and Millennials.
Perhaps, the stadium's most dedicated and faithful group of supporters is the Brickyard Battalion. During the game the BYB sings, shouts, cheers, and blows off a little smoke after every Indy goal. A lively group that makes its appearance felt during the game, you can't miss them.
The stadium is accessible from both I-65 and I-70 and located on the campus of IUPUI. There are plenty of parking lots that cost $10, a modest price. Leaving the game can get a little congested, but there are plenty of police officers on hand to guide you home.
Inside the stadium, traffic moves fluidly and there are enough signs to guide you towards your seats. Bathrooms are located in back of the main seating section and port-a-potties are featured in back of the BYB area behind the goal.
The ticket prices range from the lowest price point of $11 to $100, and there are many options in between to satisfy the paying customer. College students with a valid ID can save anywhere from $2 to $5 off regular ticket prices. Perhaps the best ticket deal is the BYB Ticket which includes two 16 ounce cans of craft beer and a ticket in the BYB supporters section for $15, a definite steal.
1 point for the two live mascots who walk around the stadium for each game decked out in an Indy Eleven jersey, Victorio and Victoria.
2 points for the local concession menu offering items such as Gordon's Ice Cream to Grandpa's Jerky, try the blueberry habanero, you'll never have jerky this good.
3 points to the Honda Fun Zone, the little ones will enjoy the games in a carnival like
"The Mike" is a serviceable venue for the Indy Eleven at the present moment, but major upgrades or a new facility will truly catapulte the gameday experience and place the club in the upper echelon of soccer venues. However, the pure joy of watching soccer among a diehard legion of fans is what truly shines at an Indy Eleven game.
According to former GM Peter Wilt, "You can tell the fans coming to our games are into the game.They're paying attention. They're not just there for a social outing."
Member Review by MarcV on Sep 17, 2014
Professional soccer returned to the city of Indianapolis for the first time in a decade in 2014. If the first season is a barometer of success, the city may be home to soccer for the foreseeable future. The Indy Eleven have sold out their first eleven games to start their inaugural campaign at Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium on the campus of IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis.
The 12,100-seat stadium opened in 1982 and serves as the home to the university’s soccer and track & field programs. There were $1 million in improvements made to the stadium prior to team’s first season in 2014 in the North American Soccer League (NASL). There were renovations to the bathrooms, additional concession stands, and the inclusion of 11 private suites.
If there were any doubts about the popularity of soccer, it has been silenced quickly and completely by the Indy Eleven. The game day experience is above many other franchises in the league, making it one of the hottest tickets in a sports-savvy town.
719 Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204
608 Mass Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204
745 Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204
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