Indy Sports Poll shows tepid public support for stadium subsidization

INDIANAPOLIS -- Limiting the taxpayer support needed for an Indy Eleven stadium may prove to be a key strategy, given tepid support by Central Indiana residents for using taxpayer funds to build it, according to the new Indy Sports Poll by the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute.

The poll, conducted in December, found that only 23 percent of respondents to a survey of Central Indiana residents supported the use of taxpayer funds to build a new Indy Eleven soccer-specific stadium.

Indy Eleven soccer player kicks the ball during a game at Carroll Stadium at IUPUIView print quality image
The Indy Eleven currently play at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Those results can be compared to 37 percent for Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Victory Field, 34 percent for Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and 31 percent for Lucas Oil Stadium, all of which were partially funded by government appropriations.

The poll posed this question: "What is your opinion about providing new or additional public funding (tax dollars) for the following: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Victory Field, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, and an Indy Eleven soccer-specific stadium?"

The Indy Eleven recently announced its latest pitch for a soccer-specific stadium in Indianapolis after failing to receive legislative support in 2015 and 2017.

State Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, has introduced Senate Bill 543 to create a professional sports development area that would capture $11 million annually in tax increment financing to pay off the bonds for the $150 million stadium, said David Pierce, director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute. The remaining $400 million investment to create Eleven Park would come from private developers, he said.

"The Indy Eleven strategy to predominantly shield taxpayers from the burden of funding the stadium through sales and tourist taxes and rather go through tax increment financing in a sports development district will likely play better at the Statehouse than previous proposals," Pierce said. "Given the tepid support for taxpayer funding shown in the poll results, the more private and the less public the partnership, the more palatable it will be."

The poll is designed to take the temperature of Central Indiana residents on issues related to sports, Pierce said. With sports contributing $3.4 billion annually to the local economy, the poll gives residents the chance to weigh in on important policy questions concerning a central component to the local economy, he said.

A total of 840 Central Indiana residents were polled, using an online survey powered by Qualtrics.

According to Pierce, the Sports Innovation Institute found that the strongest supporters along generational lines for an Indy Eleven soccer-specific stadium were millennials, at 31 percent, followed by baby boomers at 19 percent. Respondents from Generation X, aged 39 to 53 years old, supported it the least, at 18 percent.

Forty-two percent of the survey respondents were from Marion County, 36 percent from counties that border Marion County and 22 percent from other Central Indiana counties.

About the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute

The IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute leverages the power of students and faculty from across the university to attack today's sports-industry problems with innovative solutions. It delivers return on business objectives and value to stakeholders as a collaborative hub combining resources, disciplines and expertise areas that deliver specialized solutions.

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