Indy Eleven supporters were stung by the announcement this week that team president Peter Wilt would soon be leaving the franchise to focus his work on launching a new NASL club in Chicago. The high-energy and gregarious Wilt leaves large shoes to fill, to say the least.
The Eleven were able to snag a locally-prominent replacement from the metro area in Jeff Belskus. The former Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and IndyCar executive has been brought on board seemingly with one achievement in mind: secure support and funding from the city of Indianapolis and the Indiana General Assembly for a soccer-specific stadium. Without a doubt, Belskus has a rolling start on his key initiative and certainly has more connections and trust at the Indiana Statehouse than Wilt could garner in just a few seasons in the capitol city.
Belskus has previously helped to secure taxpayer funding to the tune of $100 million for the IMS and with service on the boards of the Indianapolis chamber of commerce and Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association he is connected at the right levels to carry out this assignment. The combination of Belskus with an owner as politically involved as Ersal Ozdemir will make a tough duo for the Republican supermajority to repeatedly reject. (However, the looming 2016 state-office elections may impact stadium funding more than anything these two can say or do.)
With a new team president signed and the obligatory offseason stadium talk out of the way, and with a few inches of snow and ice on the ground and little better to do, I think we should pass the rest of our time here speculating on Wilt’s replacement to oversee team management. And, while the number of available players and coaches is endless, the list of professional soccer executives in America seems small by comparison. There’s a chance we could nail this signing, so let’s dive in!