Wilt Replaced as Indy Eleven President, Moving on to Chicago NASL Expansion Effort

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING

Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir revealed on Monday afternoon that Jeff Belskus has replaced founding president Peter Wilt ahead of the club’s third season in the North American Soccer League.

The club also confirmed an EOS report from October that Wilt will shift his energy toward a new role with the consulting firm CLUB 9 SPORTS in hopes of bringing an NASL expansion club to Chicago.

EOS’ original report stated that 2017 was the intended start date for the potential club, and the group hopes to revive the Chicago Sting name from the original NASL.

Wilt’s experience in Chicago is invaluable to the expansion group. He served as the founding president of the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer and also helped establish the Chicago Red Stars, who survived the folding of Women’s Professional Soccer and currently play in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.

“I am grateful to Ersal Ozdemir, the Indy Eleven staff, team and fans for the opportunity to help build professional soccer in Indiana,” said Wilt. “Everyone here, especially the Brickyard Battalion and the Indiana Soccer Association, has welcomed me and I will continue to embrace my adopted Hoosier status and remain a proud Indy Eleven season ticket holder.”

Wilt will maintain his duties as general manager on a consultant basis into the Spring Season, which kicks off in April.

Belskus knows Indianapolis well, having served as a senior executive for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporations and its parent organization Hulman & Company for nearly 30 years. During this period, Belskus helped oversee any major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Brickyard 400.

“We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen the organization while continuing to make strides towards gaining a new home for Indy Eleven and winning championships,” said Indy’s owner, Ozdemir. “The addition of someone with Jeff Belskus’ background into our front office is an important part of that continued progress, and I am excited to welcome him on behalf of the Indy Eleven family.”

In his first words as club president, Belskus reaffirmed the intention to build a home for Indy Eleven.

“I am very excited for the chance to add to the strong foundation Indy Eleven has built. I thank Ersal Ozdemir for this opportunity to help the club reach greater heights, and that includes building a permanent home for Indy Eleven and giving our tremendous fan base the trophies they deserve,” said Belskus. “I am particularly excited to engage with the Brickyard Battalion and find ways to make the NASL’s best support base even better. Peter Wilt will be an important part of that process, and I look forward to working with him during this transition period.”

The club tried and failed in 2014 and 2015 to find the finding for a new stadium through legislation. Although, their 2015 campaign garnered significantly more positive publicity and was approved in the state’s House of Representatives before it was snuffed out in the Senate. Indy Eleven currently plays its home games Michael Carroll Stadium on the campus of Indiana University – Purdue university Indianapolis.

  • Anonymous

    **** just got real in Chicago

    • Anonymous

      Screw Hauptmann. He earned every bit of this.

      Competition Competition Competition

  • WSW

    tHAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE NO PRO/REL.

    • Anonymous

      Shut up! Pro/rel might endanger Bob Kraft’s money!

  • The real deal

    Another NASL team folds , so long Atlanta !

    That’s 2 this year

    Who is the next one to fold?

    • Jspech

      real story is they were snuffed out by encroachment. Stay classy & honest.

      • Larry’s A Simpleton

        get lost opencupfan. even before united came about the little league silverbacks were getting less than 5000 people per game. they went belly up because the nasl is a joke.

  • Col

    Chicago Red Stars play in the professional NWSL and will be based at Toyota Park for 2016 Season.Chicago Red Star’s Reserve team play in the WPSL.:-)

  • Larry’s A Simpleton

    zzzzzzzz

    another little league team that will draw about 6000 per game and all the fanboys will try to spin it as the nasl is growing. lofl.

  • ted dev

    you’d think the nasl would learn from their Atlanta/cosmos experience in that you can’t seriously think you can put a minor league nasl team in the same market as MLS and succeed, is this a joke?

    the soccer market is not that wide, refined and mature yet. the nasl is a train wreck coming, you’d think they would concentrate on trying to compete with USL teams instead of losing to them all the time, before they set their sites on MLS…

    • johnny99

      It’s kind of an interesting strategy, choosing to go head to head with an MLS team. Chicago might be good place for the NASL to take a shot like this since the Fire play pretty far outside the city. Finding a good venue within Chicago might be a challenge though.

      I wonder if NASL is recruiting some rich person to try this in Boston.

    • Arsenal 10023

      NASL needs the USSF to either give them D1 status in the US, or have USSF scrap the division monikers altogether. Division designation makes absolutely no sense without promotion/relegation.

      Taking away the NASL’s minor league label would certainly help them achieve more credibility in the eyes of fans, new investors, players and sponsors and perhaps most importantly the television networks.

      Why not have two D1 leagues in the US….plenty of room for all. Don’t forget NFL/AFL,NBA/ABA, NHL/WHA….eventually we will have a merger.

      • Gazza

        You mean NASL HAS TO EARN D1 status.

        The league needs to spend the $ on stadiums, academies etc and USSF has no choice to give them the designation. But they won’t because they want to be D1 without doing the heavy lifting that MLS has done.

        • Arsenal 10023

          MLS started with D1 designation from the start….why can’t NASL expect the same?

          As I stated above, D1 status will attract investors to do what you are saying….a bit of chicken or the egg here.

  • Kevin

    ted dev what is your obsession with the NASL VS USL. Its the same line from you in every NASL forum you visit.

    • Dr. Freud

      Ted is Larry and Larry hates himself. His only satisfaction comes from beating on the NASL. It is a very sad and lonely life he leads. We should feel sorry for him. It is a very lonely and overweight existence he leads.

  • Anonymous

    In 2015 the stadium bill was approved in the House for $82 million and the senate revised it to a $20 million renovation deal and that passed. They (senate/house committee) couldn’t agree on a compromise so it died.

    There was a bill submitted for $20 million in the house this year that was pulled the same day they of the president shakeup. Not sure if related, but it was at least written as that $20 million so who knows what the next steps may be…

  • jameson

    the labeling of league status does not matter,
    the nasl is minor league 2nd rate in every factual way – facilities, players, on the field (losing to USL teams), attendance, media attention, no academies like MLS, etc…

    • Arsenal 10023

      Sure labeling the league matters!

      MLS was given D1 status from day one….did they have any soccer specific stadiums? No. Did they have MLS academies in place? No. Were they struggling to keep the league afloat? Yes. Early on in MLS history, the Rochester Rhinos ( a minor league team) won the US Open Cup….beating several MLS teams along the way.

      The MLS has come a long way in 20 years….why not give the NASL the same chance?

    • Rest of World

      Ummm…..MLS gets media attention?

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