FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A new soccer stadium could be in the works for the so-called North River property north of downtown. The project’s front man, international soccer star and Fort Wayne native DaMarcus Beasley told WANE 15 he hopes a new professional soccer team would be playing in the stadium in 2022.
In a report published on ESPN Sunday morning, Beasley said he’s working to put together an investment group to launch a League One franchise in Fort Wayne. The league is the third tier of America’s soccer pyramid, ESPN reports.
Beasley told WANE 15 he became involved in the project around six months ago, several months after city leaders began discussions of a potential stadium and team. According to Beasley, he has seen blueprints of what a potential stadium could look like as one piece of a mixed-use development, along downtown Fort Wayne’s gateway from the north.
“What better sight to see than a stadium lit up with lights and a place where people can go and watch a team play,” Beasley said.
The proposed stadium could seat 5,000-7,500 fans and if all goes to plan, would be standing in 2022 ready to host a new United Soccer League soccer team’s first games.
While Beasley mentioned blueprints and a potential 18 month timeline, he also cautioned that nothing is 100% set in stone. He has used the ESPN report and revelation of a potential stadium to generate buzz in the community and potential investors.
Beasley said he has 60% of the financing in place. He told ESPN some of the investors came out of from connections he made while playing high school soccer in Fort Wayne. Beasley starred at South Side High School.
While Beasley said the ‘plan could come apart tomorrow,’ he hoped Mayor Tom Henry ‘still has that same kind of fire he had when we looked at the plans.’
WANE 15 reached out to the mayor’s office to confirm details of the project, proposed for city-owned land and got a statement in return.
“The City of Fort Wayne’s leadership team, including Mayor Tom Henry, has had conversations with DaMarcus Beasley and others as part of a potential investment group interested in bringing professional soccer and a development project to Fort Wayne,” the statement reads. “No project or development plan is in place. There would be a lot of work ahead to get to an approved project. We do believe it would have the potential to complement the other professional sports offerings and quality of life attractions we have in the community.”
A spokesperson for Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. confirmed that meetings have been had with Beasley’s group, but the organization is not aware of a development plan being in place.
The 29-acre North River land, where an OmniSource plant once sat, has sat empty since 2006. The city bought the land in 2017 for $4.6 million with plans to to re-sell it later for future private development. Since, it has gone through extensive remediation and clean-up, with up to 2,400 tons of potentially contaminated soils removed as city planners fielded interest from developers.
Among the ideas tossed around for the land: Headwaters Junction – a railroad museum and entertainment venue, a hospital, and a campus for science, technology, engineering, arts and math with an aquarium.
A soccer stadium has now been added to that list.
“If it happened it would be a dream come true,” Beasley added.