The developers behind Eleven Park recently unveiled plans for the mixed-use space, which will be anchored by a new stadium for the Indy Eleven soccer team. Eleven Park will transform an area of downtown Indianapolis along the White River. WFYI’s Jill Sheridan talked with Downtown Indy, Inc. President Taylor Schaffer about the public/private partnership that laid the foundation for the new development.
Sheridan: Take us back when you were involved before – when you had been working for the city, and we started talking about really intentionally building a place for Indy Eleven – and what that was like.
Schaffer: I think that that moment in time is very indicative of how major projects get done in Indianapolis, because as Senate Bill 7 wasn't just about Indy Eleven, but it was also about the future of the convention center, it was about the future of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and the importance of having those civic anchors in our downtown and the importance that sports, that hospitality, that conventions have long played in the vitality of our downtown. And really, that piece of legislation provided a pathway for allowing all of those major projects to occur.
Sheridan: It's been a factory for a long time. It's been a space that has been, I would say, underutilized. And now it will be transformed.
Schaffer: That's right. I think there's two really compelling things about this proposed project, the first being that it sort of builds on this campus model that we're seeing in a variety of other developments. You see that with the City Market development, you see it in Elevator Hill, you're seeing it in the Bottleworks campus. All examples of true mixed-use feel where someone can go to work, someone can live, someone can enjoy entertainment and hospitality options, all within one really dense area.
This project is really just that on steroids. And really incorporating that entertainment and sports aspect as that additional amenity for people wanting to live and work in the area.
The other thing that's exciting is the way that this signals a continued reinvestment in the White River. That has been a long time coming for us as a community, going back all the way to our founding as a capital, and being able to see us not turn our backs on the White River as an amenity but instead embrace it as something that can help build our brand as a city and help to push development in downtown. I think it's really exciting.
Sheridan: What else is exciting is the sports legacy that you know this opportunity provides for Indianapolis to build on.
Schaffer: Absolutely. And when you look ahead at the next several years, you can see all of the ways that that sports legacy intersects even outside of teams. In 2024 we’ll host the All-Star games, we’ll host a couple of rounds of March Madness, we’ll host the Olympic trials for swimming and diving.
And so it is not just an opportunity to have professional sports leagues, but also to be able to attract new people, to be able to put any athletes on a world stage, to be able to leverage these big events as ways of influencing and creating a dynamic environment downtown is wonderful.
Sheridan: As you mentioned, there's so many projects right now that are really looking at development, and a larger, more holistic way for downtown. For someone that hasn't been downtown in a few years. They're going to be kind of shocked.
Schaffer: Agreed. It's funny. I'm surprised by how much is going on downtown. And I live and work there. It's amazing to me. I came off of 65/70 earlier this week, and a multifamily housing project that had been sort of slow is now fully out of the ground.
And I think that's indicative of how much momentum there is and projected $9 billion worth of development projects in our downtown and how much the landscape of downtown has changed.
Sheridan: Thank you so much for taking some time today.
Schaffer: Thank you.
Eleven Park is scheduled to open in 2025.