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Peter Wilt Says Indianapolis and Milwaukee Could Be Next Pro Soccer Teams

2012 October 8
by Brian Quarstad

Indianapolis could be the next NASL team and Milwaukee the next USL PRO team, but neither would be ready to join their leagues until 2014.

Peter Wilt is working with a number of groups that want to bring pro soccer to their cities.

Peter Wilt was in the Twin Cities over the weekend and took in the NASL semifinal match between the Minnesota Stars and San Antonio Scorpions. Wilt shared that he has been working independently with several organizations who would like to bring professional soccer to their towns. Two of those organizations he was able to talk about publicly and one of them shed some light on what might be the next NASL franchise.

Wilt, who was interviewed for the NASL commissioner’s position when the league was starting in 2011, said he was interested in the position then, but not so much now.

“I really enjoy startups,” said Wilt. “The launch of the NASL was a very exciting time and it intrigued me and I very much wanted it and was disappointed when I didn’t get it. At the same time David Downs was a great candidate and has been a great commissioner. It’s disappointing he is moving on but he’s taken the league to a great spot. He has really helped define the NASL. Two years ago there was so much uncertainty as to what NASL was, what USL PRO was and where the leagues were going. I think in both cases the leagues are now much better defined and have a role and a purpose on the North American soccer landscape and I think the commissioner should take a great deal of credit for that in the case of the NASL.”

“Now I’m more interested in starting up a team or two,” continued Wilt. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be involved in the launch of Indianapolis.”

Wilt states that Indianapolis, Indiana has a group of businessman who are self funded and could easily meet the USSF qualifications for Division 2 soccer. He said in an interview on Monday, because the organization has MLS aspirations, he sees the NASL as the best vehicle to make that happen, pointing out other division 2 teams that have easily made the successful jump to MLS.

The Indianapolis group may very well be the Midwest location that Commissioner David Downs has mentioned several times recently and Wilt says they are close to making a decision and may be considered at the late October NASL Board of Governors meeting. However, Wilt does not think that the team would be ready to play before 2014.

That group of local Indianapolis businessmen have retained Wilt for a few months to do research and feasibility analysis. “The group is specifically interested in NASL and I tend to agree with them. That seems to be the best fit for the market.”

The former General Manager of the Minnesota Thunder and Chicago Fire as well as CEO of the Chicago Red Stars and founder of the Chicago Riot, says he is going public with the information now because he is in the process of going external and talking to various stakeholders in Indianapolis such as business owners and those involved in the soccer community, including the Brickyard Battalion, a supporters group formed to bring pro soccer to the city. Wilt stated that he believes it’s vital to get the input of the local community to make the team work and it needs to be built from the bottom up rather than the top down.

“The NASL has an important business meeting at the end of this month and Indianapolis will certainly be a topic that will be discussed,” said Wilt. “We want to have much more information at that point so we can be prepared to discuss it at those meetings. I can’t say if a decision will be made about Indianapolis at those meetings but the trajectory for the discussions we’ve had would make sense for a 2014 start.”

Wilt says there are several venues that can work in the short term for a division 2 team in Indianapolis, but in the long term “a more perfect solution is needed.” He says each of the current options has positives but also has shortfalls in areas like amenities, location or size. “Our research has shown there’s just not a permanent solution in place there.”

“A couple of more months will tell a lot but preliminarily, I’m very encouraged by the Indianapolis market,” says Wilt, explaining that the city is very sports minded and has been for a long time. He pointed to their dedication to amateur sports including the Pan Am games in the early 70s to Indianapolis’ commitment to venues for their professional sports teams. He also talked of the NSCAA Convention which is held there often, and a strong youth soccer community.

Noted also by Wilt was the young demographics of Indianapolis and how he feels the downtown area is vibrant and sees some similarities between Portland and Kansas City. “It’s almost a hybrid of those two, both which have shown they can be successful soccer markets,” said Wilt.

Wilt says he is also working with a local attorney from his home town of Milwaukee. The two have partnered to find investors for a team in the Milwaukee area. But in that case Wilt feels that USL PRO is a better fit.

“There’s some interesting things going on with a venue in the heart of the city that would be fantastic in integrating the social experience with the sporting experience, much like Seattle and Portland have done with their venues right downtown,” Wilt said. He points out that with the size of the venue, which currently has no seating capacity, the investor group would have to fund expansion of the venue but the final size would make it a good fit for USL PRO. He believes they could bring the seating up to 3 or 4 thousand.

He states they are in the early stages and are just putting together the investment information and have yet to pitch the idea but believes that will start happening by the end of October. Wilt states that if he finds an investment group for his Milwaukee USL PRO team, they too would not be ready to play until 2014.

55 Responses
  1. October 8, 2012

    Told you guys indianpolis.

  2. Josh Mason permalink
    October 8, 2012

    We welcome Mr. Wilt to Indy and we are confident in his abilities to get this done!!! Congrats to the investors for making such a wise selection in Mr. Wilt working on their behalf. This makes me feel confident in our success!

  3. DanWolf permalink
    October 8, 2012

    I say its a win win for both leagues.

  4. Ryan Schleeter permalink
    October 8, 2012

    This had made my night! Thank you Mr. Wilt and I will join in welcoming you to our fair city. Our love of soccer will be on display – ‘Mon the Brickers!!!

  5. wil permalink
    October 8, 2012

    HOW BOUT DETROIT CITY FC!!!!

  6. Daniel Eccles permalink
    October 8, 2012

    As a member and co-founder of the BYB this is so exciting. I love this game so much and have always dreamed a team would come to Indy. I hope that the talks go well so that we can begin play! Mon’ the Brickers! Racing till I die!

  7. WSW permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Welcome all Indy fans to NASL.

  8. October 8, 2012

    @wil, Stop it, you’re hurting my ears!

    @WSW, while I hope that this works out for Indianapolis, it’s not done yet.

  9. October 8, 2012

    Great report, BQ. This makes sense for both leagues as they both try to expand geographically but each league has a different goal in mind for different team aspirations.

  10. Diaz permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Indianapolis would be a great selection. Keep also in mind that Indianapolis has quarter million Hispanics just within city limits. Indy welcomes you with open arms.

  11. tomASS permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Could this team be as good. if not better, than the Indy team that won the White River State Championship back in 1986??? I would pray that is the case.

  12. SoundersFC permalink
    October 8, 2012

    This is exciting for Indianapolis. @Diaz Indianapolis has becoming very diverse especially in the last 5 years, so that would help without a doubt. I just hope that the team has no name because of the race track or racing or anything of that sort. I think the Indy club needs its own identity. How about just FC Indianapolis? Indy City FC? Indianapolis Athletic FC?

  13. tomASS permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Knock Knock?

    Hoos-there

  14. tomASS permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Naptown FC

    Circle City United

    call them the Sparkplugs

  15. El Padre permalink
    October 8, 2012

    I think the Brickyard Battalion have already voted by their own appellation as to whether or not the new team’s name ought to reference racing. The Indy Daredevils were one of the teams of the old ASL when I cut my teeth on Division II soccer as a New Jersey Americans fan. With the wave of nostalgic names in pro soccer these days, it would seem it ought to be at least considered.
    As thrilled as I am by the announcement of the growth of professional soccer in the US by a possible two teams, I am intrigued by Mr. Wilt’s statement, “Two years ago there was so much uncertainty as to what NASL was, what USL PRO was and where the leagues were going. I think in both cases the leagues are now much better defined and have a role and a purpose on the North American soccer landscape…”
    I wonder how prevalent this idea is among the movers and shakers in US professional soccer? Could the “Soccer Wars” be drawing to a close? Or is the final battle of that clash when NASL makes a run for Div. I status and/or a possible merger with MLS?

  16. October 8, 2012

    The soccer war is over.

    Also, no, there are not 250,000 Hispanics within the city limits of Indianapolis.

    There were only 30,000 in the year 2000 and while that grew to 78,000 in 2010 (so sayeth the US Census Bureau), no, there are not 250,000 Hispanics within the city limits of Indianapolis.

    There are only 87,000 Hispanics in all of Marion County. So, no, there are not a quarter million Hispanics within the city limits of Indianapolis. There aren’t. There just aren’t.

    There are only 400,000 Hispanics in the state of Indiana. So, no, there aren’t a quarter million Hispanics within the city limits of Indianapolis. There simply aren’t.

  17. October 8, 2012

    WSW: “Welcome all Indy fans to NASL.”

    You know they haven’t actually awarded them a franchise yet, right?

  18. October 8, 2012

    Lastly, no, the NASL’s not going to go for D1 status and they’re not going to merge with MLS. That’s not going to happen.

  19. Mike permalink
    October 9, 2012

    So posters are welcoming Indianapolis to the league when I distinctly recall reading “could be the next NASL team” and “may be considered”? The city has 250,000 Hispanics within its city limits? The NASL plans to make a run for D1 status and merge with MLS? There are “movers and shakers” in US professional soccer? There’s a Soccer war? I guess I need to start taking notes to keep to keep track of this stuff.

  20. Mike permalink
    October 9, 2012

    And to keep track of that stuff even (yike!). A proud graduate of the Yankiboy school of proofreading

  21. Fotbalist permalink
    October 9, 2012

    So, KT, what do you think? Are there a quarter million Hispanics in Indianapolis? I’m not sure what to think! lol…it was fun reading the post.

    Indianapolis seems like a fantastic place. The sports fan culture is incredible in general. The Brickyard Battalion seems to be a group that can energize the community, as it happened in Philly and San Antonio. Looking forward to this being finalized.

    I’m excited about this news, though I must say, I really wish that Milwaukee would be in the NASL together with the MN Stars FC. Wouldn’t that be a fabulous experience?

    From the looks of it 2014 is shaping up to be a really exciting season for the NASL. It’s great to watch this happen!

  22. Derek permalink
    October 9, 2012

    count my family in for 6 season tickets, and depending on the venue, a box would be preferred. Indianapolis has what it takes

  23. smatthew permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Good luck to both Indy and Milwaukee soccer fans.

  24. Bart permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Fresh off the AP news line:

    Mexico is negotiating with President Obama to cede back some of the original Mexican territory it lost during the Texas wars. Texas was not interested in ceding land, but Indiana overwhlemingly decided to become a State in the country of Mexico. Former Indiana resident David Letterman is planning on moving his show back to the farmlands when this happens, projected to be in the year 2018

  25. @kt permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @kt those 90k of hispanics reported are only documented hispanics…most if the hispanics are undocumented and do not fill out census….also city limits stretch further than marion county buddy…

  26. Circle city football club permalink
    October 9, 2012

    I love the great news but the name brickyard batallion just does not fit. As a big european soccer fan I do not want anything to do with brickyard batallion…sounds horrible

  27. Gaelforce permalink
    October 9, 2012

    I thought I read somewhere, maybe to do with Brickyard Battalion, that the name Racing Indianapolis had been trademarked for the team?? Think it’d be a fantastic name.
    This board of governers meeting could yield some interesting results. We know Ottawa is coming, Northern Virginia is at an advanced stage, san diego flash have had discussions and now Indy. 4 new teams in 2014 is now a big possibility

  28. Lol permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Brickyard batallion lol

  29. Footy76 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Good new all-around now maybe just maybe hopefully the next NASL commissioner will be willing to call a truth to this NASL/ USL rival and get these leagues back together since he has no history with the USL/ NASL feud. Then soccer in America can really start to grow in leap and bounds.

  30. Ryan Schleeter permalink
    October 9, 2012

    To clarify, brickyard battalion is a supporters group, not a team name idea…

  31. Footy76 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Why not call the new Indianapolis club Racing FC. I know there is another club with that name but they have a right to it just as much as they do or if you don’t like that what about White River FC after the river that flow throw the town or just River FC.

  32. Tom permalink
    October 9, 2012

    how about something original like Sporting Indianapolis City Athletico Football Club (with a bucky ball in their logo….).

  33. Tom permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Also, I like Peter Wilt, but would like him even more if he ever had any “skin in the game” (his own money).

  34. OleGunnar20 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    so somebody from Indy can tell me how good a location would Kuntz Soccer Stadium be for a D2 team? seems like the likely spot … it is 5-6K and doesn’t seem so far from downtown.

  35. gartoz permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @gaelforce
    It doesn’t appear that the owners have registered a federal trademark for “Racing Indianapolis” or any other variation of that team name. However, it may not have been published for opposition yet.

    They could have also filed a trademark with the state of Indiana, but I don’t know and am too lazy to look. If the ownership group is filing state instead of federal trademarks, I have serious concerns for this owernship group’s competence.

  36. October 9, 2012

    Racing indy is just an idea the battalion came up with. The ownership group can name the team whatever they want. Racing was just a mock team name we came up with.

  37. Footy76 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    @Tom I’m just happy he is fining owner for some clubs the NASL look kink of shaky there for a while. This will help put the league on solid ground. Maybe he can find an owner for the Minnesota Stars next I would be happy if he saved someone else’s skin too.

  38. GaelForce permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Oh my bad! Thought it was the team that had that name, not just the supporters. It’s a great name though. Really think it works well on a number of levels

  39. October 9, 2012

    I love this article! I’m so pumped, and so are all of my friends. The sooner the better. ‘MON THE BRICKERS

  40. Indy west permalink
    October 9, 2012

    I cant wait to see indianapolis fans all crazy like the sounders fans against portland…i can already see some rivalries

  41. Mike permalink
    October 10, 2012

    With all this giddiness over a supposed new team that isn’t official yet, can you imagine if the ownership group changes its mind and goes to USL Pro instead? (the last sound you heard was me ducking). The fanboys might hunt them down like the villagers after Frankenstein.

    So until it is officially official, keep in mind that saying about chickens and hatching. Selby Wellman and Jeff Cooper were supposed to be the driving forces behind the NASL, and we all know how that turned out.

  42. October 10, 2012

    Mike, usually I think you are pretty on about things. But you have the guy who is doing their research saying the group of businessmen (yes, they will own the team and make the decisions) saying, they wanted to be in the NASL. You also have a independent party working for them saying, yes, NASL is the best fit and they are currently negotiating with the NASL. So, I’m not sure of your point here unless you know of a separate business group who are about to announce a USL PRO team in Indy, which with the way things have been going recently, would not surprise me all that much.

  43. yankiboy permalink
    October 10, 2012

    ^^^Whoah!!! Not to rain on your parade–coz I really love the enthusiasm–but don’t you think that you are getting just a little bit of yourself???

    First, let see if things come to fruition.

    Secondly, you do realize that ther Cascadia thing–particularly the Seattle Sounded-Portland Timbers phenomonon took decades to become what it is and is unparalleled in US and Canadian soccer, right?

    Not saying that if you guys get a team in Indy that you won’t be “bringin’ it”, but maybe you want to reel back in the expectations a bit. There is nothing quite like when the Sounders and Timbers clash–at least not north of the Rio Grande– That bar is set stratosphere high because it’s a whole different level and quantity of emotional and physical investment.

    Gotta walk before you can run and Seattle-Portland is the equivalent of a triathlon. Nothing wrong or bad about aiming high–it’s a good thing but the reality is that I don’t think that any other soccer rivalry in the US and Canada can even begin to come close.

    I’m really curious about the rivalries that you can see because none are jumping out at me yet. It would cool if you could share them and the reasons why.

  44. yankiboy permalink
    October 10, 2012

    My comments were directed @ Indy West (Mike & Quarstad are fast).

    Speaking of Mike:

    @ Mike-Bro, if Indy went USLPRO, this particular fanboy would be ok with it. Better than just “ok”. An owner or potential group has to pick the best fit for their particular marketplace and parameters.

  45. October 10, 2012

    @kt: Actually, Marion County is literally the city limits of Indianapolis. What you might be referring to is the Indianapolis metro area, which is, as you implied, much larger.

    Yes, nothing is official yet. But if Peter Wilt is coming forth with the information that an ownership group is forming and making plans, that’s good news. Any news is good news to fans who’ve been waiting years for high-level soccer in the city.

    It’s true that the northwest has a long history of tradition and soccer fandom, but soccer is strong in the midwest.

    It’s good to hear that the ownership group has MLS aspirations. I can’t imagine anything better than a three-way rivalry with the Fire and the Crew. As a point of reference, Chicago to Columbus is the same distance as Portland to Vancouver, with Indianapolis as a midpoint (like Seattle in the northwest). If Indianapolis reached MLS, I don’t think it would take long for the supporters groups from those cities to create a cup like the Cascadia Cup.

  46. tomASS permalink
    October 10, 2012

    I lived in Indy for three years over on the west side not to far from the Eagle Creek reservoir. Great town and I think the fan base would eat this up during the summer. Just a triple A baseball team to compete with. A great state for soccer and Indy is a fine town. Take that Columbus, come-on Indy

  47. Mike permalink
    October 10, 2012

    For the record, I was only joking about the USL stuff. I threw it in for a yuck since so many here were assuming that Indy in the NASL is a done deal. I’m not betting against it, but the status of such arrangements can often change quickly. “Close to making a decision” still isn’t a cigar. I never understood why Downs always felt the need to leak such information prematurely for that reason. The group mentioned certainly does appear to be going about things the right way, which is good to see.

    Maybe putting those D2 standards in place was a good idea after all.

  48. October 10, 2012

    Damn it Mike, that is the second time you have gotten me to bite in the comments on something you were pulling our legs on. Grrrr! Your humor is quite subtle, however.

  49. El Padre permalink
    October 10, 2012

    Well, with this recent news from the MLS about the New York Franchise playing in Queens (BTW exactly where your guest suggested on your excellent stadium podcast) http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2012/10/10/mls-officials-discuss-nyc-expansion-plans-eye-2016 we now not only have the “Where?” but the “When?” all that we are missing is the “Who?”. This does a number of things.
    1) It means that MLS has gone on the record as stating that there will be no more expansion until after 2016
    2) That if the Cosmos are the magic 20th franchise in MLS then they still get to play three full years with the NASL
    3) If Indianapolis joins professional soccer they can’t even think of jumping to D1 for at least a few years and the door is closed to Orlando City and a possible MN Viking team for that same time period.
    4) NASL now has only USL Pro as competition for professional soccer markets in the US & Canada for the next 4 years. They MUST take advantage of this unique time. Given the facts of this post http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/relegationzone/id/262?cc=5901 it states that “‘MLS’s problem is they only have 19 teams and no regular national television presence,’ Luker said.” Which means that NASL & USL Pro would do MLS a favor by filling the voids.
    5) Since the Cosmos will play in the NASL until at least 2015, it gives Traffic another shot at their television marketing plan for NASL after next year’s World Cup which would include what is arguably the most internationally recognized team brand in the history of US soccer.
    6) On a completely different note- I LOVE the name RACING INDIANAPOLIS!

  50. October 10, 2012

    Well this was Peter dropping the news, it was getting to a point where enough soccer people in town knew he was in town alot and asking questions and meeting with him. So it got to the point where enough people knew what was going on but could not really talk about it with each other. So now he has opened up the flood gates and alot of the leaders in the local soccer community are now talking about this and working with Peter to make sure it is a viable market for this.

  51. @brad permalink
    October 11, 2012

    Actually indianapolis city limits do stretch in neighboring counties. For example west side of clermont has an indianapolis adress but it is in hendricks county same thing with neighborhoods on west 56th street.

  52. October 20, 2012

    @brad: I base my statements on internet searches, and have no other justification for my claims, so I acknowledge the possibility of error.

    Google shows Clermont ending at Raceway Road, which is also the county line. It is possible you’re referring to the public perception of where Clermont is/isn’t. It’s also possible that people are simply using the “wrong” city to describe a location. Fishers homes had “Indianapolis” addresses for years, despite being in Hamilton County rather than Marion.

    Again… light internet searching proves nothing, but I can’t find any indication of Indianapolis truly extending beyond the county lines.

  53. chuck permalink
    October 23, 2012

    Why invest in NASL when the threat that successful teams inevitably jump ship to MLS? Impossible to build a league like that.

  54. yankiboy permalink
    October 23, 2012

    ^@chucky-Answering your “Why…?” question, Bro:

    1) MLS is going to max out at some point. It’s not going to be like the NFL, NBA, NHL (remember that league?) or MLB. It can’t accommodate many more teams. They may well hold at the Magic 20 number that they like to throw around for a few years.

    2) A lot organizations may have MLS aspirations but they ain’t necessarily got ML$ type ca$h, capital and or credit, Playah.

    Like a high stakes cardgame that is usually invitation only-E’rybody can’t get a seat at that table. Only the “high rollers” and pretenders usually get weeded out, ASAP (a la Jeff Cooper and the AC/Athletica St. Louis).

    I’m trying to get an ownership group together for a Baltimore USLPRO expansion franchise. That might be more your cup of tea, Playah: Less of the aformentioned 3C’s required to get a club up and running and only Orlando has MLS dreams.

    I got the vision, I just need someone with da coin. Can I count you in?

  55. Bart permalink
    October 23, 2012

    @yankiboy

    I heard there was this family in town called the Medds, who might be able to come to your rescue………..

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