INDIANAPOLIS – On Wednesday, a day before the city is set to host the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Indianapolis sealed its status as a bastion of American soccer, becoming the latest city awarded a North American Soccer League franchise.
At a press conference downtown, commissioner Bill Peterson announced that the NASL had approved Indianapolis' entry to join the league for the 2014 season. Indianapolis will be the 12th franchise to join the NASL, and will be owned by Ersal Ozdemir, chief executive officer of Keystone Group LLC. Indianapolis will join Ottawa and Loudon County, Va., as 2014 NASL expansions franchises.
“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,” Peterson said in a statement. “We have all witnessed great sporting moments in Indianapolis over the years and in that same vein, the support for this team has been overwhelming. With the strong leadership of Ersal Ozdemir I expect this team to be an overwhelming success and a wonderful part of the sporting legacy in Indiana.”
With the help of former Chicago Fire president Peter Wilt, who will be named the new franchise's president, Ozdemir rallied local support for the expansion side before eventually gaining the approval of the NASL. Fans are encouraged to vote on the team’s official name at IndyProSoccer.com, with the club moniker to be announced in the coming months.
A coach will be hired later this year, and the club will draw on the local talent pool, including Indiana natives and those who played at local universities, as well as players from other regions and countries to fill the roster.
“Indiana is home to the current and eight-time NCAA Men’s Soccer champions – Indiana University, numerous World Cup players and more than 60,000 youth soccer players,” Ozdemir said in a statement. “I want to offer our sports-minded city and soccer community the opportunity to truly experience this beautiful game in a fun, safe and family friendly environment. Professional soccer’s national popularity has grown exponentially over the last several decades. I want Indianapolis to be part of the world’s game and home to Indiana’s team."
Discussions have already begun with Indiana University to play the franchise's 2014 home games at Michael Carroll Stadium on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a conceptual configuration of the facility is pictured above.
“Bringing a professional soccer team to Indiana raises the profile of our state globally,” said Indiana governor Mike Pence. “A growing number of our state’s youth soccer players will soon be able to witness professional soccer firsthand. Families, young adults and soccer diehards from every corner of our state will now have a local team to call their own."