Indy Eleven Stadium
Architect: Browning Day
The design starts with the most important aspect, with the natural pitch oriented north-south to get sun on the grass and out of fans’ faces. With the sun setting in the west and most games played in the afternoon, “that means you want your best seats over to the west side,” says Phil Kolbo, principal and senior architect at Populous.
“So that’s where we put our suite level, our club levels, and then you can bring other pieces a lot closer to the bowl. We’re trying to sprinkle in different experiences all the way around the bowl.”
Those experiences include space for 2,400 supporters in a standing section on the north end of the stadium, while the west side will offer club seating, party suites and a terrace club.
The lower bowl and upper deck provide further opportunity, with a 700-capacity taproom featuring a viewing terrace, while seats on the east side will be concentrated on the sidelines with the widest concourse and with concessions and restroom ratios in mind.
Populous is keeping in mind cultural differences among crowds and how they consume soccer, known as the world’s game.
“Every region has its own sort of cultural approach to soccer,” says Kolbo, who was design lead at the MLS stadium Geodis Park in Nashville, which opened in May 2022 and is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S.
“Americans like to get up and walk around. We want to be able to see from the concourses, so we set that up for our American soccer stadiums, whereas, if you talk to anybody in the UK, they want people in their seats all game long, and you leave at the half,” he said.
“We want to make it a great place for fans who come to watch the whole game and stay in their seat, but also appeal to families who want to move around and enjoy other activities and places to go.”
Indy Eleven, alongside Indianapolis development company Keystone Group, acquired more than 20 acres of land in the city for the project, which is designed to transform the southwest section of the city’s downtown with apartments, office space, retail, restaurant, parking garages, a hotel and public plazas.
“As the sports capital of the world where we have a bunch (of venues) nestled right here, the stadium is going to be just literally a block away,” says Tim Wise, president of Browning Day.
The Colts’ stadium, the Pacers’ arena, the speedway and Victory Field, home of the triple-A Indianapolis Indians, are all within a short distance of the proposed soccer complex.
The Eleven Park project is taking place at the same time as other major developments, including Indiana University School of Medicine’s $230 million medical education and research building, another $1 billion hospital project and Gainbridge FIeldhouse’s upgrades.
“There’s a lot happening all at once, which is great for the city,” said Wise, whose 54-year-old firm has been involved in many developments across the city. “There’s a lot of pivotal projects just like this that are going to reshape downtown Indianapolis, which has experienced spurts of growth over time, but we’re going to notice it all at once because they’re literally all happening in conjunction with each other.”