The Herald Bulletin

January 16, 2013

Rick Teverbaugh: Pro soccer returning to Indy


— Beginning in 2014, Indianapolis will get its 12th professional soccer team.

The announcement was made in Indy on Wednesday afternoon. The as-yet-unnamed team will play in the North American Soccer League. It will bring the NASL roster of teams to 12.

Bill Peterson, commissioner of the league, was on hand for the announcement as was team owner Ersal Ozdemir, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

“The NASL is experiencing tremendous growth and the addition of Indianapolis will contribute greatly to that positive aspect of our business over the next few years.”

“Bringing a professional soccer team to Indiana raises the profile of our state globally,” said Pence. “Families, young adults and soccer diehards from every corner of our state will now have a local team to call their own.”

For next season, Indy Pro Soccer is holding discussions with IUPUI to convert Michael Carroll Stadium to fit the needs of the team. Season tickets will range from $135 to $390 for 15 home games. Individual ticket prices range from $10 to $30.

The NASL season begins in early April and runs through late October counting the playoffs.

The league teams are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Minnesota Stars FC, Puerto Rico Islanders, San Antonio Scorpions and Tampa Bay Rowdies. This season the New York Cosmos will begin play. Virginia will join the league the same year as Indianapolis.

This time it feels to me like the team will succeed. The people behind the team have done their homework and yet not set their first goals too high. It is possible for teams to move from the NASL to Major League Soccer once the fan base has been established. But while establishing that base, the expectations are at a level that are attainable.

“Indiana is home to our current and eight-time NCAA men’s soccer champions — Indiana University, numerous World Cup players and more than 60,000 youth soccer players,” said Ozdemir. “I want Indianapolis to be part of the world’s game and home to Indiana’s team.”

The franchise is soliciting fan input on selecting an official team name. That can be done at the team site: IndyProSoccer.com.

Later this year the team’s coach is expected to be named. The players will be selected Indiana natives, players from Indiana universities as well as those from other states and countries.

“Bringing professional soccer to Indianapolis is a key step toward expanding our successful sports strategy,” said Ballard.

Whenever it is possible to bring a massively popular sport like soccer to Indianapolis, I can’t think of a downside.

It is my hope that fans and participants of the sport at all levels will come out to support this team. I know I will be there to watch, hopefully several times in that inaugural season. I hope many from this area will follow suit.