Monday, January 11, 2016

Indy Eleven Replaces Peter Wilt

The Turkish businessman seeking to force Indiana taxpayers to build his Indy Eleven minor league soccer team a new stadium has replaced the man he tapped to launch his professional soccer team in Indianapolis. Ersal Ozdemir announced today that he has named Jeff Belskus, the former president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the new president of Indy Eleven.

According to the IBJ, Wilt will be transitioning to a new job with a sports consulting firm seeking to create a new NASL team in Chicago. Wilt formerly ran the Chicago Fire major league soccer franchise where he convinced city leaders in the suburban community of Bridgeview in Cook County, Illinois to build a more than $70 million soccer stadium to serve as home to the major league franchise team. Promised economic development from the stadium never materialized. Debt and taxes to pay for the stadium's construction skyrocketed.

The Indy Eleven claims to lead the NASL in game attendance. The team claims average attendance this past season was about 9,800 a game, which was 6.3% below the claimed attendance level during its inaugural season. Objective analysts know the figures are grossly-inflated, but our local news media prints them as fact because they want to help Ozdemir get his publicly-financed stadium in downtown Indianapolis by hook or crook.

The Indy Chamber of Commerce is working very hard behind the scenes to ensure that Ozdemir gets his publicly-financed stadium. Angela Smith Jones, Mayor Joe Hogsett's newly-named deputy mayor for economic development, had been serving as the Indy Chamber's general counsel and director of public policy. Mayor Joe Hogsett's chief of staff, Thomas Cook, is a big booster of Ozdemir's Indy Eleven. Another key member of Hogsett's administration, Ahmed Young, is married to Jasmin Shaheed, director of corporate and community relations for Ozdemir's Keystone Construction. It is believed the Capital Improvement Board, perhaps the least transparent public agency in the state of Indiana, is secretly working on a plan that ensures Ozdemir gets what he wants.

UPDATE: The leading advocate in the Indiana House of Representatives for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven, State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), tells the Indianapolis Star that legislation filed in his name, HB 1108, which allows Indiana University to issue bonds for the redevelopment of Carroll Stadium into a new soccer stadium for Indy Eleven's use, was filed last week in error. That legislation would allow state and local revenues generated from the soccer team and a new hotel being developed by Ozdemir at the corner of Market and Illinois Streets to be captured to pay debt service on the stadium bonds. Indy Eleven tells The Star it is still hoping for a stadium plan approval this year, and that it is working with the Hogsett administration on those plans. Hogsett, of course, refused to investigate public corruption allegations against Ozdemir while he was federal prosecutor.


Anonymous said...

It's sad, but I just assume that this guy will get his publicly funded stadium because there are no elected officials in central Indiana with the courage to stand up and say that pouring money into downtown for close to forty years now has accomplished nothing. There is no urban vitality downtown, other than contrived "festivals" and "shows" that the taxpayer also finances. If not for that, there's nothing. Compared to the urban core in similar sized metros (Austin, Portland, Nashville) Indianapolis is an empty wasteland. They have nothing to show for forty years of misdirected public money. In most places, people would rightly throw them out. In Indy, people just leave and abandonment takes over. Is it just me or is this Potemkin Village downtown surrounded by a wasteland not obvious to everyone?

Anonymous said...

So are you trying to tell us Ozdemir owns Hogsett as much as he owned Ballard?

Anonymous said...

Some of your readers may wish to return to this entire article on your blog. The following is just a small portion about Todd Huston's involvement back in Feb. 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Retired Barnes & Thornburg Partner Unloads On Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium Deal And Former Colleagues

Tom Huston
When an Advance Indiana reader forwarded to me a column Tom Huston penned over at Indiana Policy Review's blog, I had to do a double take. Huston's scathing critique of legislation authored by his nephew, State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), to force taxpayers to finance a nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium for Ersal Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league soccer team could have been written by me, but I assure you I had no part in authoring it. Huston, a retired Barnes & Thornburg partner whose practice area focused on real estate development, had particularly harsh words for his former colleagues' role in aiding the passage of HB 1273.

State Rep. Todd Huston
Huston opens his column by telling readers not to "believe a thing you are told by its proponents or their mouthpieces at the Indianapolis Star." "They are in a Putin frame of mind, and if you are inclined to believe that the Legislature has the slightest interest in protecting taxpayers from the rapacious grip of Ersal Ozdemir and his fellow schemers, you have lost contact with reality," he writes. And that's just for starts.

Sir Hailstone said...

It's called "The Combine" - R's and D's working together to f**k you over

Anonymous said...

If Ersal wants a new stadium for his amateur soccer team there is nothing to stop him from doing so. If he does not have sufficient resources to buy land and build a new facility then he may finance through private investors or arrange for a business loan. Evidently there is no investor that believes there is profit to be made or in the fantasy that a new stadium will double attendance at an average ticket price of $29.50.
The NASL Chicago Sting averaged about 8,000 in attendance for 10 years before folding and now has the problem of finding a location in Chicago for their resurrection. The NY Red Bulls of the MLS sold their recognized Cosmos name to the NY NASL team playing at Hofstra University. The Minnesota United team is leaving the NASL.
The Chicago Fire of the MLS employed the same puppet masters as the Indy Eleven and the new $100 million stadium in Bridgeview, IL is losing 3 to 4 million $ each year in operating losses now being paid by local taxpayers. Construction bonds floated in 2005 at a cost of $134.6 million are now on the S&P watch list and rated two levels above junk. Stadium and debt has escalated to $250 million and, at best, can now be paid off by 2056.
It would seem that the Representative from Fishers may want a new stadium built in the Fishers/Carmel/Westfield area. I'd expect taxpayers in these communities would accept an additional tax burden like the $18,000 per person taken on by the citizens of Bridgeview, IL. As for me, I am sick of the stupidity in having the Marion County taxpayer holding the bag on any such a shaky, contrived, long term project.

Pete Boggs said...

The corruption class is convinced that it has lottery rights to play the public treasury...

Anonymous said...

Indy's new Boss Hog is just like the old Boss Hog. What's changed? Nothing.

Indy has the best Democrat and Republican career politicians money can buy.