A site plan for the Kuntz Stadium renovations. (Courtesy of Riverside Sports Properties LLC)
A site plan for the Kuntz Stadium renovations. (Courtesy of Riverside Sports Properties LLC)
A group of local investors plans to spend $45 million to revamp an aging Indianapolis soccer facility into a complex primarily focused on attracting and retaining regional, national and global rugby competition and organizations.

Riverside Sports Properties LLC has reached preliminary terms with Indy Parks and Recreation to take over management of Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium, 1502 W. 16th St., and add new seating, a public plaza, improved lighting and other amenities over the next three years.

The overhaul is part of an effort to draw interest from national governing body USA Rugby—both for a potential headquarters relocation from Glendale, Colorado, and to move Indianapolis into the mix of cities that could be considered for hosting duties during the 2031 Men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2033 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which are being held in the United States for the first time.

“We want this to be a new Kuntz stadium that’s used regularly by kids and adults from across Indianapolis,” said Brian Williams, one of four partners in Rugby Indy LLC, the entity that operates Riverside Sports.

Williams said the goal in bringing the World Cup to Indianapolis is to catalyze growth of the sport on a local level, much like what has occurred over the years with soccer in the United States. Because of a rugby field’s size, the facility could also be used for football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, ultimate (Frisbee) and other sports.

“We think we can be the home for those (sports) while still serving the community needs,” he said.

Kuntz opened in 1987 and was home to the IHSAA soccer state championships from 1995 to 2012 before they moved to Michael A. Carroll Stadium. The site also was home for 10 years to Indy City Futbol, an adult recreational summer soccer league, until the league folded earlier this year.

In addition to Williams, who works in the biopharmaceutical industry, the investment group consists of Indianapolis commercial real estate broker Bill Ehret, professional rugby player and Indiana University graduate Bryce Campbell, and Indianapolis Arts Center President Mark Williams.

Former Dallas Mavericks owner and Indiana University alum Mark Cuban—who played rugby in college—has expressed support for the project through a letter to USA Rugby, but so far is not involved as an investor.

“Our proposal brings together business and community leaders who have a passion for sport and a passion for creating a community asset that reflects positively on the surrounding Riverside community and Indianapolis,” Ehret said in written remarks. “This will require significant capital investment to achieve our long-term goal of hosting world-class sporting events at this historic location.”

The renovations to the Kuntz campus are expected to occur over four phases, with the first three—totaling about $12.7 million—focused on enhancing existing facilities, including the addition of a new entryway at the southeast corner of the property, which Williams and Ehret said is meant to pay homage to the outfield entrance at Victory Field. The final phase expected to add a new 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot training facility and a separate parking garage.

The stadium, which is set to get new turf and drainage as part of the project, is set to be expanded from its current 5,000-seat capacity to more than 8,000 seats, including several hospitality suites and a press box area.

The western soccer field is expected to be used for practices and qualifying competition, as well as for neighborhood activity. The ownership group is exploring ways to weatherproof the practice facility during the winter, including the possibility of using an inflatable doming system, Williams said.

The existing concession areas and office spaces are expected to be renovated as part of the project, as are the locker rooms on the north end of the property.

While timing for training facility and garage is somewhat nebulous, Williams said the hope is that the overhaul is fully completed by early 2027, in time to accommodate USA Rugby’s site selection process for the World Cup events.

Initial proposals also call for extending the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to 16th Street and onward to Riverside Park as part of the project.

“We want the facility wrapped in bike and pedestrian trails,” Williams said, adding that funding hasn’t been identified for that portion of the project, which would be outside the $45 million already committed.

More than 50% of the programming at the facility is expected to be neighborhood-focused, including a new afterschool program for Vision Academy, directly west of Kuntz. Williams said the management group also hopes to host farmers markets, community events, and local and regional athletic competitions at the revamped stadium.

The strategy for Kuntz as a whole, Williams said, centers on attracting USA Rugby and its four national teams: men’s and women’s teams each for the Olympic and World Cup programs, which have seven and 15 players per side, respectively.

The hope is that the organization will move from its longtime home in Colorado after seeing the local investment, but Riverside Sports partners believe the project will be both sustainable and worthwhile even if that move never occurs, Williams said.

The group has discussed pursuing USA Rugby directly with city leaders and sports officials, including the Indiana Sports Corp., Pacers Sports & Entertainment and the Indianapolis Colts—all of whom have written letters of support for the campaign.

Williams said Rugby Indy LLC has already “facilitated conversations” between USA Rugby and the city’s sports leaders about how a move to Indianapolis could help consolidate the organization into one site. Right now, its offices are in Colorado while its teams train in California and Charlotte, North Carolina.

“They’re spread out a little bit and need some consolidation,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time, but we’ve set everything in motion to … talk to the right people.”

Officials with USA Rugby could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rugby Indy also has interest in the Kuntz facility serving as home for Indiana Rugby and governing bodies for other field sports across the state. Likewise, Riverside Sports wants to secure a professional rugby team for Indianapolis, which could use the facility for its matches.

The group was selected by Indy Parks following a request for proposals process for Kuntz that began in November and concluded in January. It was the only bidder in the process.

While a full lease agreement between Riverside Sports and Indy Parks could not be obtained ahead of publication, a presentation for the parks board indicates the parties have reached a 20-year agreement, with two five-year renewal options.

Rent during the first 10 years of the lease would be waived in favor of further investment in the property, while future years would be based on gross annual revenue, ranging from 3% of any revenue of up to $3 million to 4% for any revenue exceeding $5 million.

Riverside Sports is expected to cover ongoing maintenance, repairs and improvements, as well as utility expenses and staffing for the property. The group has already installed new tower lights for the main stadium, as well as an improved sound system, Williams said.

The lease agreement is expected to be considered by the Parks Committee of the City-County Council on Thursday night, before going to the full council for a final vote in June.

The architect on the renovations to Kuntz is Indianapolis-based Schmidt Associates.
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