A group of Indianapolis business executives is laying the groundwork to launch a professional soccer team here in 2014.
Members of the group won't identify themselves, but this month they launched a website--indyprosoccer.com--seeking season ticket commitments.
Faegre Baker Daniels partner and former Republican state senator Murray Clark said he knows the members of the group and is confident they have the juice to start and operate a pro soccer team.
"The business acumen of this group is at a very, very high level," said Clark . . .
"Mayor Greg Ballard has made it a high priority to expand our presence in international sports, and soccer is one of the most popular sports in the worlds," said Marc Lotter, the mayor's communications director . . .As it turns out, the only local anonymous businessman promoting the professional soccer team who is specifically identified in the story is none other than Ersal Ozdemir, the Turkish immigrant who has purchased Mayor Greg Ballard lock, stock and barrel by lavishing campaign contributions and gifts on him and who, in exchange, has given tens of millions of your tax dollars to benefit Ozdemir's growing real estate business, including $6.5 million he gave to Ozdemir to build a parking garage in Broad Ripple. Ozdemir also just happens to live next door to Mickey Maurer in a gated Carmel community, and as we've previously reported, Maurer is on a mission to promote Ozdemir at every turn for some strange reason.
Ersal Ozdemir, founder and president of Indianapolis-based Keystone Group, is not yet part of the group, but he said he's met with Wilt, and if the plan gains momentum, he will seriously consider jumping in.
"I grew up playing soccer and I think it would be a great fit here," said Ozdemir, a native of Turkey . . .
A deep-pocketed businessman like Ozdemir is the type of investor that could give the effort instant credibility, sports marketers say." . . .It's not clear exactly how Ozdemir has developed such deep pockets during the relatively short period he has been in the United States after immigrating to this country. It is true that he contributes a hell of a lot of money to politicians all over the country, particularly in Indiana and appears to have seized total control of the Marion County Republican Party apparatus, and that he supports the lobbying activities of the Turkish government through the Turkish American Council, one of whose primary objectives is to block official U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide during which the Ottoman Turks systematically exterminated about 1.5 million Armenian Christians. Ozdemir was a keynote speaker at the group's national convention held at the Washington Plaze Hotel in our nation's capital this past April.
A few years ago, I reported on the bombshell allegation of an FBI whistle-blower, Sibel Edmonds, that Turkish officials had engaged in bribery, blackmail and espionage activities involving several congressmen, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who nows lobbies for the Turkish government since retiring from Congress, and U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, who represents Indiana's 5th congressional district until the end of this congressional term, which includes the Carmel community where Ozdemir resides. Burton's work on Middle Eastern issues has drawn scrutiny because of the large amount of contributions that seem to follow his public policy positions on issues affecting the region, particularly Turkey. Earlier this year, a Kashmiri-American, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, accused of funneling money from Pakistan’s main spy agency to American politicians in a scheme to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir, was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Fai gave more than $10,000 to Burton's campaign committee. In 1997, a lobbyist for the Pakistani government claimed Burton had tried to shake him down for campaign money.