INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Eleven, with cooperation from the City of Indianapolis, is planning to apply for one of four expansion openings in the MLS (Major League Soccer) accoridng to a , Sports Illustrated report Monday night.
The article citing team President Jeff Belskus as its source. The team will face tough competition, with other cities applying include San Diego, Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Phoenix and Cincinnati.
Jumping from the North American Soccer League—the second-tier professional soccer league in the United States—to the top league would require the Indy Eleven to pay a franchise expansion fee of at least $150 million and would involve construction of a downtown stadium.
Belskus told SI that the application will include a plan for a downtown stadium that would be built between Lucas Oil Stadium and the White River as part of a public-private partnership.
Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir and his partners would kick in a “significant amount of private money” to fund the stadium, said Belskus, the former CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Team officials have made several unsuccessful attempts with lawmakers over the past few years to gain support for a downtown stadium that would seat as many as 18,500 people.
Belskus told SI that Ozdemir planned to submit the application by hand to MLS headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, the deadline for applications.
The Eleven would join 11 other teams that are vying for the four available openings in the 22-year-old league. Two successful applicants would join MLS by the 2020 season as the league’s 25th and 26th teams.
The league said it expects to announce the first two winners in the second or third quarter of this year. Teams 27 and 28 would begin playing at a “later” but undetermined date, the league said.
The MLS set the fee for expansion teams 25 and 26 at $150 million and said the fee for the other two teams would be announced later. The price for clubs 27 and 28 will be announced in conjunction with the announcement of the timeline for the selection of those clubs.