Evident ever since I first began kicking the ball at the age of 12 — that’s decades ago — soccer has been my number one true love. No objectivity here — I’m backing my team all the way. But it’s way more than my team, I’m backing Indiana soccer — a great tradition, not “a new sport” as Erika Smith called it in her opinion piece declaring that Indy Eleven can just hold on and be patient with its second-class facilities. [Curious timing on Smith’s piece, incidentally, seeing as it came just a day after another story advocating tax-payer support of Angie’s List, a local company with an exciting growth story that provides many jobs, but also has yet to turn a profit.]
Back this stadium as a tip of the hat to Indiana’s World Cup stars: DaMarcus Beasley of Fort Wayne, who anchored the U.S. in Brazil last summer, and midfielder Lauren Cheney, an Indy native and Ben Davis grad who is a central artery of the U.S. Women’s National Team heading to Canada this summer for the Women’s World Cup.
Back it as a tribute to the Yeagley family, who have worked for decades to leave Bloomington a world-class soccer reputation, as well as all the other coaches who have worked to build this game in the state — my coaches from Earlham, Shane Meridith and Roy Messer — my brother, Ryan Wilson, who has worked for years to build Rossville Area Youth Soccer. Do it for all the soccer players who have grown up in inner city Indy playing soccer with Tab Rec and the other old-school urban leagues here and around the state — Evansville has mad soccer skills and even LaGrange throws down. State lawmakers would do well to count how many soccer fields are in their districts — and they’d do well to get a look of the true joy they will find on the faces of people engaged in the game that unites people across cultural differences better than almost anything else but food and music.
Back the Stadium for Indiana as a tribute to Notre Dame Men’s Soccer Team for winning a national championship in 2013 and IU’s men’s team for taking the title in 2012 — like they’ve done seven other times since 1982. More than a dozen national team members came from college teams in Indiana.
Back it as a way to honor the millions of Hoosiers who have played and who have loved soccer. The Germans on the southside have been playing for at least the last century.
Back it so that our children can, for just $10, see absolutely amazing athletes perform what the whole world knows as the beautiful game. If that stadium materializes, Indy will be more attractive to the players it courts (boosting our roster so we can start winning championships) and it will provide space and staffing for more high-level training opportunities for Indiana’s soccer community as a whole.
We’ll have a lot more to say about the economics once the team’s latest analysis is released. From what I understand so far, the fees Indy Eleven’s current audiences are already paying on tickets, refreshments, etc., should be enough to pay the debt service on the deal. No new taxes at this point. And, if the pitch is indeed grass, it supports the local turf grass growers, Indy kicks up its game — and the city is better able to compete for major international tournaments. Plus, if we’re ultimately providing this stadium because we love the game and we want to see the best players that we possibly can, then let them play on grass. Forcing slide tackles on artificial turf is poor form at best and just mean at worst. This is the time for Hoosier hospitality.
In conclusion, as a life-long player (and now coach, parent of a player and soccer writer) I call on my fellow Hoosiers to embrace soccer — it makes us tough, it makes us healthy, it makes us sexy, it makes us the best Hoosiers we can be.
Let’s see what our legislative leaders have in store for us … Stay tuned.
Here’s the slick video which the team released today: