IU Michael A Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium and Indy Eleven logo

IU Michael A Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Indy Eleven vs. New York Red Bulls II
USL Championship Playoffs Eastern Conference Quarter Final

"I want to know. Have you ever seen the rain?" Yes, John Fogerty. Yes I have. It was relentless. It looked like it was never going to end, and it wasn't "comin' down on a sunny day" either. It was grey, miserable, and extremely wet.

IUPUI campus sign outside Carroll Stadium
The stadium is tucked away on the edge of the IUPUI (pronounced 'oo-ee poo-ee'*) campus.

Whilst most of England was covered in its traditional overcast skies and games across the country were being postponed due to waterlogged pitches, central Indiana was receiving its first rainfall in months. Which I wouldn't have minded except I'd already bought tickets for Indy Eleven's playoff game on that day.

Inside the IU Michael A Carroll Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
The running track surrounding the pitch more closely resembled a moat.

This wouldn't have been a problem, since they play at Lucas Oil Stadium most of the time and the roof could be closed. But thanks to "scheduling conflicts" (the Colts and all the marching bands you can possibly imagine), they have been forced to look for somewhere else to play their home games during the USL Championship Playoffs, which meant a return to their old stomping ground.

This seemed a little strange as I watched a video of them managing to turn Seattle's CenturyLink Field from being ready to host MLS to NFL in a single day just last week (and they actually bother to paint out the differing field markings), but who am I to tell the Colts how to run their stadium? So Carroll Stadium, on the campus of the confusingly named Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, it was.

View from the balcony level inside Carroll Stadium, IUPUI
You can see where Maidenhead United got their idea for the Alan Devonshire suite from.

Carroll Stadium doesn't have a roof that could be closed. Or a roof of any kind. Or protection from any of the elements Mother Nature likes to cruelly throw at the human race. Or seat-backs. Or anything. You can see why they left really.

Since they don't really do weather related postponements in the United States, unless there's a serious chance of someone getting struck by lightning or the stadium getting blown away, the chances of this game succumbing to the same fate as Nottingham Forest vs. Reading were very slim. A torrential downpour is no big deal. Try telling a native about heavy rain and you get funny looks and questions of "have you ever seen rain?".

The press box at Carroll Stadium, IUPUI
A sign instructs the sellout crowd, using their cloaks of invisibility to keep dry, to 'make some noise'.

It can't have been all bad though. The continuous downpour seemed to be enough to keep Elton John away for another few months, at least. Unfortunately it also meant the public stayed away from Carroll Stadium too.

The optimistic forecasts that this game would sell out looked rather misguided when I trudged into the stadium to be greeted by the sight of soggy tumbleweed caught in the strong winds. I thought I was early, but as the clock ticked closer to kick off there was hardly long lines of people waiting to get in. Did everyone go to Lucas Oil Stadium by mistake?

Indy Eleven's mascots, Victorio and Victoria
At least Victorio and Victoria could still be bothered to show up (not that they had a choice).

I've been soaked at a game before. I went to the Reading v Oxford United game in 2000, back when Tony Rougier (hey, he played in the second tier of the US too!) seemed like a good idea, in conditions resembling an Olympic swimming pool rather than a football game (my clothes still haven't fully dried out), so I wasn't really concerned about getting a little damp.

I was however, slightly concerned with the papier-mache programme I was handed on my way into the venue. If you're going to give them out, try not to just have them sitting in an open cardboard box when standing under a waterfall. It's enough to put the most ardent of programme collectors into cardiac arrest. But as it barely differed from the last one, there was no harm, no foul.

A flare goes off in the Brickyard Battalion section inside Carroll Stadium, IUPUI
A bit more rain might have been useful to calm an over exuberant flare.

Besides, it literally stopped raining ten minutes after arriving. So the potential evening of misery being sat on an uncovered metal bench would now just be the responsibility of those on the pitch. No pressure, lads.

I have attended a lot of sporting events in my life, but not once have I ever been the only person in a section of a stand (and I've been to a Reading Rockets game). Here I was, braving the elements (and the risk of trench foot from all the standing water) as I took my "balcony" seat (the cheapest), only to find not one other soul with me.

Concession stands inside Carroll Stadium, IUPUI
The empty seats and refreshment portacabins gave the place a real non league feel.

It felt like a baby Pumbaa moment. Were the other animals at this watering hole just avoiding me because I was so repulsive? Maybe. But most likely it was the fact that the bleachers in this uncovered stand were so wet, that those wild animals driven away by a fictional warthog could have found them a suitably thirst quenching resource.

Empty stadiums do provide one luxury, the chance to go elsewhere. Who needs to seek thrills leaping out of an aeroplane at 13,000 when you can sneak a place in a section that you didn't pay for? I'm sure this is what the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be like in Qatar, except there were women here.

The main stand at Carroll Stadium, IUPUI
The official attendance was given as 5,145. No.

The smaller confines of Carroll Stadium actually provided a better atmosphere than the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium. Even the language seemed a little bluer than the last game, or maybe it was just because I could actually hear the chants this time and they've always had potty mouths. Was I in England after all?

All of this resulted in an almost authentically non league football experience in America. The freedom to just roam aimlessly around the stadium with a beer in hand whilst there's crap football going on in the background (and this game was definitely on the lower end of the entertainment spectrum).

Indy Eleven taking a free kick against New York Red Bulls II
A marquee was set up behind the goal to keep supporters dry and house any emergency weddings that might break out.

It finished 1-0. If only I could have seen a little more rain.

* it isn't.

Useless information about IU Michael A Carroll Track & Soccer Stadium

Address: 1001 West New York Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202
Capacity: 10,000
Pitch Type: Artificial
Ticket Price: $22
Program(me): Free, 28 pages

Indy Eleven 2019 USL Championship Playoffs program