The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports

November 10, 2012

Rick Teverbaugh: Are you ready for some soccer?

Apparently, yet again, attempts are being made to bring pro soccer to Indianapolis.

IndyProSoccer is attempting to round up interest in putting a team in the North American Soccer League for the 2014 season.

The group has established a website at: www.indyprosoccer.com.

The group, which is primarily made up of Indianapolis businessmen, is looking for input from people in the state with a stake in the sport. Obviously, at this point, there are more questions than answers.

One of the primary issues is where would the team play. Long-term, if the team was successful at drawing people in and establishing a solid base, a new facility might be erected. But right now there appears to be no existing facility that would really serve the sport well.

Many possible venues have drawbacks whether it would be location, nearness of the stands to the field, parking and several other issues.

Ticket prices in the NASL range from about $10 to $28 apiece with season tickets ranging from around $100 to nearly $400.

On the website it is possible to suggest a name for the team as well as the colors for it.

The group, attempting to get off to the best start possible, has hired Peter Wilt to manage the effort. Wilt is best known for being the first president and general manager of the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

“There is an evolution going on in soccer,” said Wilt in a Thursday telephone conversation, just 24 hours after the website launched. “The environment has improved now for bringing pro soccer to Indianapolis.”

The state has a history of nearly a dozen previous pro soccer teams, but few lasted even as long as a decade.

“If this one is done poorly and by that I mean if it is treated as minor league, then it probably will fail.”

He has one idea that certainly could enrich the chances fopr this to succeed.

“One of the things we need to do is to take the large number of participants and convert them into spectators,” said Wilt. “We can get them to one game by offering package deals and bring a whole team in. But can we get them to come back.”

He is hoping that some of the work can be done by the soccer community.

“We want to convert the community into evangelists,” said Wilt. “We can reach more people that way.”

Wilt points to Seattle where the Sounders of the MSL average around 44,000 per contest as evidence that it can be done. He also acknowledges that in that same league the next highest attendence is only a little more than half of that.

Wilt seeks to give Indy fans a sense of ownership.

“The Green Bay Packers have the bense sense of Tribalism in sports,” said Wilt. Of course in that case, many of the fans actually do have stock in the team. There’s no indication the Indianapolis team would go in that direction.

It will be interesting to watch this develop.

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