Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Carroll Stadium 1001 W New York St Indianapolis, IN 46202
Year Opened: 1982 Capacity: 12,100
American Soccer's Best Dive Bar
The Indy Eleven are members of the second-division United Soccer League. The ultimate goal of the franchise is to have its soccer-specific stadium and move up the ranks to Major League Soccer. The club operated in the North American Soccer League since its inception in 2014, before joining the USL for the 2018 season. However, during deep playoff runs, the club returns to IUPUI for matches due to scheduling conflicts at their regular home.
The club calls Michael A. Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium on the campus of IUPUI home. The 12,100-seat stadium opened in 1982 but was renovated before the arrival of the club in 2014. There were $1 million in improvements made to the stadium before the first season that included additional bathrooms, portable concession stands, seating areas, 11 private suites, and two premiere party decks.
However, the Eleven did not always call IUPUI home. From 2018-2020 they played at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. The move improved many areas, but the atmosphere was clouted by the massive size of the stadium. The team would return to Carroll Stadium for the 2021 season and will remain there until Eleven Park (a $550 million mixed-used development and 20,000-seat stadium) is completed by the 2025 USL Championship season.
The Indy XI–named after the 11th Indiana Infantry Regiment that served with notoriety in the Union Army during the American Civil War–has averaged over 9,000 fans per game over four seasons setting the standard for both casual and supporters section at the stadium.
Weekend matches at the “The Mike” include tailgating, family activities, and various tents and games set up before each home match. A strong dedicated supporter section known as the Brickyard Battalion provides the theatrics during the 90 minutes of soccer on the synthetic field.
Food & Beverage 3
The list of gameday delights includes 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). The prices are reasonable and include a few nights where certain items such as hot dogs are just a dollar.
For a more local fare at the stadium, Gordon’s Ice Cream is served in heaping portions for $5 and comes in 8 different flavors including coconut rum cake and lemon Oreo. Broad Ripple Chip Company sells original and spicy bags of homemade potato chips for $5 and Hoosier Popcorn is affordable at $3 and $5 a bag. Ben’s Soft Pretzels are the latest addition to the concession items and draw very long lines for their giant-sized freshly made pretzels.
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, who also create Battalion Pale Ale for the club. 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.
Tailgating begins early for evening games and various tents and banners are noticeable before kickoff. The Brickyard Battalion has a few tables and tents offering its brand of merchandise featuring caps, scarves, shirts, and stickers. Some of it is pretty well designed and constructed.
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 to adoring fans who want to pet them. 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 behind the goal.
There are also copious merchandise tents offering t-shirts to jerseys located behind both end-line seats. It is not uncommon to find a few discounted items that are around the $10 mark along with reasonably priced novelties for the true fan or soccer jersey collector.
Carroll Stadium is located on the campus of IUPUI near the center of downtown and a short taxi or Uber
ride to Mass Ave or Fountain Square sections of Indianapolis. However, there are a few places nearby within a slight walk after the game to visit including a slew of regional chain restaurants.
The Mass Ave. neighborhood is highly recommended after the game and it’s where you will find the official meeting headquarters for supporters The Chatham Tap Restaurant & Pub. The soccer-friendly atmosphere provides food, drinks, and lively conversations, try their wings, bangers, mash, or Scotch eggs.
A few more spots to check out for food on the avenue would be Goodfella’s Pizza which offers giant New York-style slices for $3 and the Speakeasy Bar in the back. Bakersfield offers tequila and tacos for affordable prices, Union 50 features live music in a very hip atmosphere, and The Eagle has some of the best-fried chicken in town.
The Indy Eleven have finished either number one or two in attendance numbers in the NASL since its inception. The organization has tapped into a niche market in the city that’s blossoming with Generation X, Millennials, and beyond. The city has supported this team well through both winning and losing seasons.
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. However, do not let them spot you with an opposing jersey. With the club joining the USL, expect the BYB to do battle with nearby rivals Louisville City.
The stadium is accessible from both I-65 and I-70 and is 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 behind the main seating section and port-a-potties are featured in the back of the BYB area behind the goal.
There are also a few fans who stand on top of the parking deck and watch the game with a decent view of the playing field. It is slightly obstructed in one end, but a cheap way to enjoy a soccer match.
Return on Investment 3
The ticket prices start at $15 for the upper-level corner seats and increase from that price point. The BYB tickets are $20 and puts the fan into the raucous crowd that stands for the entire 90 minutes. However, if with the family, the upper and lower level seating options range in price from $15 to $40.
One point for the two live mascots, Victorio and Victoria, who walk around the stadium decked out in personalized Eleven jerseys.
Another 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.
A third point of the Honda Fun Zone, the little ones will enjoy the games in a carnival-like atmosphere.
A final one for the Brickyard Battalion–the envy of the league.
The official supporter group of Eleven is not afraid to let their opinions known to the opposite side on the field. Expect to sing, cheer, shout, stand, and be engulfed in red, white, and blue smoke during a typical match.
“The Mike” is a serviceable venue for the Indy Eleven at the present moment, but major upgrades or a new facility will truly catapult 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.”