Summertime in Indianapolis is incredibly fun. From the very second my sister and I arrived we were swept up in the hustle and bustle of the city. Unbeknownst to me, we arrived in the middle of their Gay Pride celebrations.
What a shock.
I have never been exposed to anything like that before. It was a great time seeing so many people come together for a cause they believed in. Embracing love and one another is truly a beautiful thing to see. Given these uncertain times that we live in.
Everything in Indy is within walking distance or just a short Uber ride away. Unfortunately, due to poor planning on my part, I positioned us on the west side of the city where we are a bit closer to the NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indy Eleven home field and a bit further from the city center.
From our immediate arrival people were quite friendly and welcoming. Indy is very much a mid western town.
Pro-tip: Talk to your front desk attendant and ask how they are. We just mentioned if she had an upgrade available and she moved us into a suite at no additional charge.
How neat is that?
Many things went our way this trip but we did have some trouble with dinner. There is a TGI Fridays attached to our hotel and we thought about grabbing a bite before the Indy Eleven match. The match was scheduled for kickoff at 7:30 so we figured that if we left for dinner at 5:30 we would be okay.
We were wrong.
We arrived to find the restaurant teeming with activity. We spoke to the manager and he said it would be roughly a half hour wait. He offered us a spot in the bar area for immediate seating.
My sister and I found our way there and immediately took a seat. We sat around for 20 minutes and weren't acknowledged by one soul in that restaurant.
My sister was now becoming "hangry" so I suggested we move on. We made our way next door to the impressive JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.
Holy mackerel is that place nice. We settled into the Italian bistro with a lovely view of the kitchen and made ourselves comfortable.
Once dinner concluded we began to make our way to the Indy Eleven stadium. The NASL side called Carroll Stadium home. The stadium opened up in 1982 and is located on the campus of IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis).
The facility is spacious but outdated. That being said it is neat in nature and possesses charm. My only complaint is that it is very difficult to locate a restroom if you don't know where to look.
That is just a tiny complaint.
Let's talk about the game day experience.
The staff of Indy Eleven is INCREDIBLY helpful. They make visitors feel welcome and appreciated for supporting their brand.
Their memorabilia and gear is reasonably priced. The club just agreed to a new jersey deal with Adidas after leaving Diadora so expect to pay top dollar for gear. Although I scored a pretty nice haul in my trip.
Indy Eleven Jersey
Indy Eleven Scarf
I'm an addict for team apparel and that is something I've owned up to. Jillian Fisher who is a columnist I love and respect actually put out a great piece about wearing a teams colors when you are visiting their facilities and I couldn't agree more. You can read her article here.
Unfortunately, Indy can't buy a goal this season, but that doesn't stop the fans from having fun. My sister and I began to converse with an older couple that was seated in front of us. They both love soccer and have grandkids that have played. The hailed from Western Indiana before moving to Indianapolis two months ago. They frequently spent time in Bridgeview cheering for the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer.
I was infatuated by both of them as they seemed incredibly eager to learn the game. They even joked about running over and joining the Indy Eleven supporters group the Brickyard Battalion.
I conversed with them more and shared with them that I am a member of the media and I cover Columbus Crew SC. They then asked me just about any question they could about what was occurring on the field and you know what? I didn't mind at all.
That is the beauty about soccer. It's a wonderful game and if someone is willing to learn the specifics about the game I will be more than happy to teach them.
As for my sister, she had a great time even though I had to reteach her on some of the basics of the beautiful game. Then again, I didn't mind either. I'm just glad she agreed to travel with me four hours round-trip and not leave me at a rest stop.
I can say one thing for sure.
I will be back in Indianapolis. This city has a lot going on in the summer months. As I finish this article late into the hours of Saturday evening and almost into the wee hours of Sunday morning people are still out and about enjoying the lovely atmosphere of the city.
We have barely scraped the surface of what Indianapolis has to offer. I'm excited to see what else we can get into. Whether that is seen during this trip or one at a later date remains to be seen.