Local Government and Pacers and Capital Improvement Board and Government & Economic Development and Economic Development and Sports Business

CIB set to release results of Pacers impact study

May 10, 2010

A Chicago-based consulting firm on Monday afternoon will divulge the results of a study commissioned by Marion County's Capital Improvement Board to determine how much the Indiana Pacers contribute to the local economy.

The CIB has been negotiating for months with basketball team executives over who will pay $15 million in annual Conseco Fieldhouse operating expenses. And the results of the study could help the CIB justify payment to the Pacers.

A provision that allows the Pacers to break its lease after 10 years—if the franchise is losing money—is forcing the CIB to consider paying the expenses in order to keep the team in the city. Officials say the team lost $30 million in the 2008-09 season and are claiming “heavy losses” last season as well.

The findings of the study will “shed light on the potential costs and benefits of the scenarios under consideration” to keep the Pacers from leaving, the CIB said Monday morning in a statement announcing the completion of the study.

Hunden Strategic Partners will release the results at the monthly CIB meeting set for 3 p.m. in Room 102 of the Indiana Convention Center.

The consulting firm specializing in destination attractions is led by Rob Hunden, a former economic development official for the Indianapolis Bond Bank during the Goldsmith administration.

Hunden declined to discuss the findings of the study when reached by phone Monday morning.

CIB President Ann Lathrop could not be reached for comment.

If the CIB picks up the annual $15 million tab, the additional expense will add to the board’s already fragile financial condition.

Members spent much of 2009 grappling to overcome a projected $47 million deficit this year. The board has improved its financial health by making $26 million in cuts and by avoiding $25.5 million in debt-service reserve payments.

The not-for-profit now is on target to turn the budget deficit into a surplus—additional money that could be used in negotiations with the Pacers.

Overall, the downtown sports, tourism and convention industries are estimated to generate $3 billion annually, according to the CIB.

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