Indy Like a Local
Who is Ersal?
Real estate developer and owner of the Indy Eleven soccer club.
Q. Do you have any tips for people who are going to their first Indy Eleven game?
A. First of all, get there early and enjoy the tailgate scene. The Brickyard Battalion supporters group holds its free, open-to-all tailgate in Lot B and welcome all Indy Eleven fans – and even our opponents’ fans, too!
Secondly, if you have kids, enter the stadium once gates open 90 minutes before kickoff and take advantage of the Honda Fun Zone inside the East Gate. It’s a carnival area with lots of interactive games and giveaways from the team’s partners that will keep the little ones entertained leading up to the game.
If you want seats that make you feel like you’re part of the action, then the Brickyard Battalion supporters section behind the West Goal is for you. But a warning – be prepared to sing and cheer for the “Boys in Blue” for the full 90 minutes, as the “Brickers” demand just as much from their fellow supporters as they do from the team! Their energy and spirit are contagious and helped provide a genuine soccer atmosphere that you might expect to find in Europe or South America. The BYB is what sets Indy Eleven apart and makes our matches a unique and memorable part of the city’s sports landscape.
Q. What's the best place in town to catch a game on TV? Any favorite sports bars?
A. My favorites happen to be the best soccer bars in the area, but don’t let that scare you away if you don’t love “the beautiful game.” The Chatham Tap on Mass Ave was voted one of the 10 Best Sports Bars in the country last year by USA Today. Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple is also a great place to watch a game and enjoy a beer – and strike up a friendly conversation with the locals.
Q. What should visitors to Indy absolutely not miss?
A. Indianapolis is the best city for sports in the country, so checking out a game (preferably an Indy Eleven soccer game!) while in the Circle City is a must. With the NBA’s Indiana Pacers rounding out their season in late-spring, Indy Eleven soccer and the Triple-A baseball Indianapolis Indians dominating the summer months and the NFL’s Colts and minor-league hockey Indy Fuel starting up towards the fall, it seems like every night during the year is game night in Indy!
Q. What's your favorite summer activity in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis is becoming more and more a global city, which means the various international and ethnic festivals across the area are continuing to blossom and grow. Fortville’s Bastille Day celebration in July, Greek Fest in Carmel in August, and Irish Fest at Military Park and the Sister Cities Fest on Georgia Street in September are just some of the highlights on my festival calendar every year.
Q. What’s Indy’s best-kept secret?
For me the best hidden gem is Istanbul Cafe. They serve authentic and best tasting Mediterranean food in the area. While the food is consistently great, the fantastic service and wonderful atmosphere also keep me coming back.
Q. What's your favorite Indy hangout?
Prime 47 steak house right in the heart of downtown is hard to beat, whether for dinner or drinks. With its proximity to Gainbridge Fieldhouse, there’s no better place to either start out or finish off your night when you head to a Pacers game.
Q. Where do you take friends when they’re visiting?
I find the Newfields and Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres make for a great introduction to the culture of the city. Newfields always has a rich variety of interesting and engaging exhibits they are able to curate. The 100 Acres park is another hidden gem of Indianapolis. Not only is it one of the largest museum art parks in the country, but it’s one of the most beautiful places in the city.
Q. Where do you take family members?
With two young daughters, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has been and will continue to be on my list of go-to places with the family. There’s a reason it’s been continually voted as one of the best children’s museums in the world and is always a hit with the girls, as is the Indianapolis Zoo. With its layout as part of White River State Park you can always make a trip to the zoo an enjoyable, all-day experience for all ages.