By Justin Whitaker
In an environment resembling more of a pep rally than a traditional press conference, pro soccer is headed back to Indiana.
The standing room only crowd at the news conference Wednesday at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis heard details of the creation of a team in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Indianapolis’ team became the 12th franchise to join the NASL and will begin play starting with the 2014 season.
For the initial season, home games will look to be played at Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium at IUPUI.
Ersal Ozdemir, chief executive officer of the Keystone Group LLC, owns the franchise.
“I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a short-term, quick decision and that we have a lot of support and interest moving forward,” Ozdemir said.
Indianapolis having hosted the 1987 Pan-Am Games and 2012 Super Bowl are both examples of how the city has gained more recognition globally. Bringing the world’s most popular sport to the Circle City hopefully means another notch in Indianapolis’ belt.
“This was a city, leaders over 30 years ago decided was going to be a sports town,” Ozdemir said. “As we are trying to be a more global city and state, this is one of the pieces that fit into the mission of being a sports town.”
No team name or colors have been selected yet as the franchise is having choices voted on on their website at IndyProSoccer.com.
The survey allows for soccer fans to choose between Indianapolis Athletic, Indianapolis Majestic, Indianapolis Speed, Indianapolis United, or a write-in name. The survey is also taking recommendations for the team’s colors.
Peter Wilt, a soccer consultant to the franchise, will be named the team’s president. Wilt will look to hire coaches by the end of 2013 and the roster will be acquired once the coaching staff is in place. The players will be acquired through free agency, trades, and tryouts.
The team will be composed of players from all over the world, although Wilt said there will be “a large number of Indiana natives.”
“It’s important that this team is connected to Indiana,” he said.
Season tickets are currently on sale at IndyProSoccer.com. A $25 deposit will reserve a single season ticket for 2014 and will secure a priority seat selection number that will determine where the fan selects later this year.
Season tickets range from $135 to $390 for 15 home games. Individual tickets will range from $10 to $30.
“Individual tickets are being priced at a reasonable level,” Wilt said. “It’s very important that this is affordable for families.”
As Indianapolis’ pro soccer team prepares for the pitch in 2014, Ozdemir is excited for what is ahead.
“I’m very confident that this is going to be a great team that you’re going to enjoy it,” he said. “And I commit to all of you here and the rest of the state that we will do whatever it takes to make this team a great team that you will be proud of for years to come.”