Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Grand Park Events Center 19000 Grand Park Blvd Westfield, IN 46074
Year Opened: 2014
Indy XI Women Take the Game Indoors
Indy Eleven of the USL Championship purchased a club in the USL W League to kick off its inaugural season of 2022. The 44-team league was created to provide opportunities for girls and women to play, coach, and work in soccer. The Eleven play in the Great Lakes Division and call the Grand Parks Events Center home for its matches.
The building is the centerpiece of the Grand Park Sports Complex, which features 26 baseball and softball diamonds and 31 multipurpose fields for soccer, football, and lacrosse spread out over 400-acres 20 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. The Events Center features 3-full-size synthetic fields, 4-locker rooms, office space, a restaurant, and a sports pub.
It is the second attempt of the USL to establish a women’s league. The original W-League operated from 1995-to 2015. None of the teams from the original loop have returned, with many operated by USL Championship clubs.
Food & Beverage 4
There is plenty of food to choose from at the venue that includes a full-service restaurant and pub with food and drink, along with a concession stand with snack items for the younger fans. The pub has a full-service menu that includes starters (nachos, fried pickles, chicken wings, loaded tots, and cheese curds), entrees (burgers, tenderloin, chicken sandwiches, buffalo chicken wrap), pizza, and salads. The prices range as low as $9 for a starter, $12-14 for a sandwich, and 22-25 for a 16-inch pizza.
There is an impressive selection of beer that costs $8 a pint and includes varieties from Three Floyd’s, Sun King, Upland, along with Yuengling Lager, Blue Moon, and Stella Artois. Canned beer is available for $6-$8 from Budweiser, Coors, Guinness, Rhinegiest, Modelo, and Sun King. Coors Seltzer, White Claw, and Hard Cider are also available for purchase at the game.
The concession stand is downstairs and features nachos, hot dogs, pretzels, candy, pop, hot chocolate, and coffee. The price of a hot dog is $4, a 32-ounce Pepsi product is also $4, and combos can be made with a hot dog, bag of chips, and soda for $8.
A few reminders when ordering from the pub, the crowds get long during half-time, and it might be better to place a food order before or after this time. It is fun to have a drink with a few fans during this time, but not when you are hungry. Also, the building only accepts credit cards at this time. It may change in the future, but you have been warned.
The game-day atmosphere is electric during a soccer match. Fans pack in both sides of the grandstand and watch from above the action on the pitch. The same can be said for fans in the pub who have a great window view of the game from their seats. The Brickyard Battalion occupies one end of the venue and generates a similar frenzy pace as they do at Carroll Stadium downtown for men’s games.
Fans have to walk upstairs to purchase a ticket and have an open view of the pitch from both sides, along with a possible youth game taking place on one of the two adjacent fields. A merchandise booth is installed with caps, scarves, and t-shirts, and a match poster is available for free to take home to hang on your wall. The club’s official mascot, Victorio, can also be found greeting fans young and old.
Grand Park is 20 miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis in the suburb of Westfield, a sprawling community in recent years. Grand Park is near a collection of chain restaurants, hotels, and local restaurants and establishments.
If you are with the family, a few national and regional chains: McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Culver’s, Portillo’s Hot Dogs, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle. There are also local restaurants: Grindstone on the Monon, I Heart Mac & Cheese, Union Jack Pub (fantastic deep-dish pizza), Los Agaves, Ben’s BBQ, and Wolfies Grill.
Another fun spot for the family is Urban Vines. The winery/brewery serves up wine slushies, bottled wine, beer, and pizza, along with a giant grass area with benches, fire pits, and a kids’ play area – it’s family-friendly. If you are without the kids, 1205 Distillery North often has live music along with a couple of other breweries – Field and Grand Junction.
The inaugural match was sold-out for the first game of the club. A frenzied crowd took to the indoors at the Event Center and welcomed the ladies to the Indianapolis area. The Brickyard Battalion was seated at the far end of the grandstand and made their presence known with drums, chants, flag-waving, and feet stomping on the aluminum bleachers. The rest of the stands were filled with fans cheering on the side throughout the match.
There is plenty of signage to the complex but not any reference to the Indy XI club. The team also had to remind people that the venue was indoor at the Event Center (it could probably use a better name or a corporate sponsorship for easier identification), but there is a vast parking lot that is free of charge and directions inside to lead fans upstairs to the seating bowl. I would say that someone could access the game free of charge since there seemed to be a few entrances that were not checking tickets
Return on Investment 4
A ticket is $8, the same for a pint of beer at the pub, merchandise is $25-$30 for a shirt or cap, and the parking is free. One could grab something to eat in the pub, watch the game from there, and perhaps make your way to the stands for the second half. The area is perfect for families with hotels and retail chains nearby to satisfy their cravings.
A point for the pub that is packed during half-time with fans exchanging stories over a pint of beer and mingling with players from the men’s side. A second point is for the BYB, who show their support for the ladies and bring a welcome presence to the match. A third point is for the set up of the game-day experience by the staff. It is run on a professional level with members available for questions when applicable.
It is not my first time watching a sporting event for Stadium Journey at the Events Center, the Indy AlleyCats of the AUDL also call it home, but I was impressed with what I witnessed. I don’t think every game will be a sell-out, but even half the audience would be a welcome presence. It is also an ideal spot for the folks in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis to have a sports option for the family. I would prefer the game outdoors at a soccer-specific venue, and perhaps that day will come, but they are off to a great start.