CIB OKs Pacers subsidy after promise of no additional taxes

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The city’s Capital Improvement Board on Monday afternoon unanimously approved a $160 million, 10-year finance package to the Indiana Pacers for the operations of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The 8-0 vote came after City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, sought assurances from CIB President Ann Lathrop, who was wearing a Pacers sweatshirt, that the deal would create no new taxes or tax increases.

“I’m not going to tell you that it’s not going to get tight at times,” said Lathrop, referring to the CIB’s budget during the term of the Pacers deal. “But there are no new taxes planned.”

Lathrop went on to promise that as long as she was CIB president, there'd be no new or increased taxes to pay for this deal. Lathrop made a similar promise last Friday, a day after the deal first became public.

A handful of Pacers executives attended Monday’s meeting and shared hugs and hand shakes in the back of the room after the unanimous vote was tallied.

“Thank you for this vote of confidence,” said Pacers President Jim Morris. “I promise you we will go to the end of the earth to operate this facility for the good of central Indiana. We will always put the concerns of the community first.”

Morris emphasized that Pacers owner Herb Simon isn’t seeking this deal for profit. He also lauded the city’s public-private partnerships in growing downtown.

“I worked with Mel and Herb [Simon] when they bought the team, and they care deeply about the community,” Morris told the CIB Monday after the vote. “This is not about money. It’s about how we as a community do extraordinary things.”

Shopping mall magnates Mel and Herb Simon bought the team in 1983, rescuing it from financial ruin. When Mel died in 2009, Herb bought out his interest and is now the sole owner.


  • Huh?
    Thanks Brian for clarifying that you need professional sports to not have a dead downtown, unless you have a warm humid climate, a large public university, several federal offices, be within a 3-hour drive of other large cities, and be open to accept jobs relocating from another state. It's really too bad that doesn't sound at all like Indy.
  • Event revenue
    True, lots of events at Conseco other than Pacers. BUT Pacers get all game AND nongame revenue.
  • too late
    A valid argument can be made that Indianapolis would be be better off without subsidizing professional sports franchises. That being said if that's the path that the city was to take the decision needed to be made before we built Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium. It makes no sense to let the main tenants leave town after the facilities have been built
  • Lol
    First, the Simons don't own Conseco Fieldhouse, the CIB does. The Fieldhouse hosts concerts, conventions, and shows aside from Pacers games; the Pacers only play there 41-50 nights a year. Second, with no Pacers there would be no Colts, no hotels, no Circle Centre, and very few independent bars and restaurants. These business would fail without spectators and tourists. Finally, one of the few reasons Indianapolis is even able to attract newcomers from out-of-state is because of the quality-of-life benefit that entertainment options such as the Pacers provide.
    • In for a dime, in for a dollar
      Look, some decades ago, city leaders chose sports-convention tourism as their economic model and invested huge public sums in sports facilities and, ever since then, sports facility operations. It’s hard to argue that it hasn’t been successful. The problem is, the professional sports business model relies on, nay, requires, significant and continuous taxpayer support. So once you’re into that game, you’re always on the hook. I could live with it a little more easily if the Indy power structure (political, legal and business) would frankly acknowledge that their chosen economic model pretty much violates all the Tea Party orthodoxy that they otherwise bow to. Remember, Jim Irsay wasn’t a billionaire until Indy and the collar counties built and paid for Lucas Oil. Funny how that works.
    • Austin
      You mean the State Capital of one of the biggest States in the US? Or the one with a huge College and a 72k seat football stadium? They have massive music festivals, 10k federal workers and 24k University workers along with 50k students. Also, they have great weather and have been able to capitalize on California's woes. Not apples-apples. Plus within 3 hours of 3 of the top ten largest US cities.
    • Enlighten us
      Thanks for explaining how the tax laws are structure. I am curious how many new jobs were brought to the city because of the Pacers--can you name a few companies? And I mean good sustainable jobs with actual growth potential, not minimum wage jobs. Thanks!
    • Robbing Peter
      Let's say I budget for my gas bill and my electric bill. One month my gas bill is really high while my electric bill is really low. There's just no way in hell I can use the money from my electric budget to pay for the gas bill. This makes no sense. Who exactly has handed down the higher law that hotel taxes must pay for sports stars instead of roads and police? If it's a made up law, then it can be changed. Downtown is a lot of chain restaurants and lame chain bars. Be honest.
    • tax dollars for pacers/simon
      it seems to me that it is ludicrous for us to provide any type of public tax dollars to any private entity that doesn't have to show us precisely how much it makes, or loses, on an annual basis. very bad business for public financing; very good deal for simon. it stinks
    • Austin Texas
      You people must not get out very much. Go travel to a city like Austin, TX and tell me how their downtown is doing with ZERO pro sports teams. Thanks.
      • Just trust the rich. They would never lie.
        It doesn't surprise me that people rush to defend this deal on the belief that downtown would shrivel up without the Pacers. However, I'd expect even supporters of taxpayer subsidies to the rich professional sports industry to at least take a slight interest in being assured that the public isn't being ripped off. So why no call to require Simon to open the books and prove that the ever increasing subsidy is truly needed to keep an NBA franchise viable here? Is there some limit at which supporters would say it's too expensive a price to pay?
      • Hmmm
        I too get the feeling that most of the people who comment on such stories don't live in the actual city of Indianapolis, let alone understand how their own government works. The expenditures allocated from the CIB come from hotel, taxi, and restaurant revenues. Without teams, museums, and other attractions in the downtown area the City would not be able to attract conventions or new business and there would be greater disinvestment in the core of the city. It is important to know that the CIB expenditures cannot be used to "fix crumbling roads" or "get more police". Those things are funded through property taxes. In other words, if the Colts and Pacers left today the quality of life in our City would go down, not up, and the infrastructure would be worse. High income families whose property taxes would otherwise have funded basic amenities would have absolutely no incentive to live downtown as opposed to the suburbs. No sports, no conventions, no canal, no shopping, no museums, no fine dining, no concerts. These are more closely intertwined than you think. One more thing: you can't really compare the dynamics of Los Angeles or Seattle to Indianapolis since those cities don't have the bombed out neighborhoods that many cities here in the eastern United States have. (As an aside, those cities are actively trying to replace the teams that left them in spite of their numerous other amenities. Getting a new team is much harder and more expensive than keeping the one you already have.)
        • Greedy liars
          Markus the Simon check book has always been way ahead of their mouths providing very good high paying jobs gambling on local projects that you and all Indy area residents take advantage of daily ... you are just not smart enough to take the time to be thankful for. Please go to downtown Indy and look around before the Simon family gets upset and moves all their investments out and you can live in whatever suburb and go to Chicago, Cincinnati or Louisville to shop .... where people would love to have the Simon investments !
        • Love the Comments
          I love reading the comments of the uninformed people ... people that are not citizens of Indianapolis ! Some think that the Simon and Irsay families do nothing for the City (except provide thousands of jobs) some think that there would be a downtown Indianapolis without the Bankers Life Stadium and Lucas Oil Stadium (not the hotel or restaurant business certainly not the small restaurant and bar owners)get over it people without the people like the Simon and Irsay families you would not need or have as many police officers and first responders as you have as you would not need them and how many of those people get extra income from working part time at events ? I guess maybe we could have all of our concerts at Garfield Park or to keep it downtown I bet Cher would have been great at Soldier Park (it was a pretty nice night for out door activity)! Let me see where could we host the NRA convention ? maybe at the Circle Theater ! we do want to keep these things downtown ! oh wait WHAT DOWNTOWN ? we don't want any of the things that the Simon family did to save downtown so now we live in a donut city ! We don't need those stupid hotels downtown because no one visits Simon worldwide headquarters or the Big Ten Basketball and Football tournaments no NCAA TOURNAMENTS oops! no NCAA headquarters and those jobs since they have no need to be here. Ah yes and with no convention center so no FFA convention, no NRA convention, no Black Expo, no Firefighters World Wide Convention and on and on ....... get a grip and PLEASE move if this is not a great place to live and work PLEASE MOVE !
        • Greedy liars
          Simon is going to make over $500 million over the next 10 years. If it's not "about the money", then let him put his check book where his mouth is. When are these millionaires/billionaires going to put their own money up for these things?
          • Get over it
            Having the Colts and Pacers in downtown is the number one reason we have such a vibrant downtown. The businesses that exist which creates jobs and in turn creates income and sales taxes that don't exist if the downtown is dead. Herb Simon has covered the losses of the Pacers for years. To think we are lining their pockets with this deal is so far off base. These are funds to maintain the facility which houses far more than just Pacer games. This long term deal is great for our city.
          • Indy's Inferiority Complex
            Tommy, there's a lot wrong with the Pacers and the Colts being subsidized, especially when the rest of the city is crumbling. In fact, it is a scathing indictment of Indianapolis that the only way we can keep these teams is by covering all of their losses for them. Greater cities would tell them to leave. That said, the soccer stadium was still an incredibly bad deal for the taxpayer. The numbers were pure blue sky. I have no doubt your precious minor league soccer team will get a new stadium. That's what we do. It's embarrassing to have to explain it to friends who live in real cities, you know, those places where neighborhoods are more important than stadiums.
            • "No New Taxes"
              "Morris emphasized that Pacers owner Herb Simon isn’t seeking this deal for profit." (I JUST THREW UP IN MY MOUTH A LITTLE.) THAT STATEMENT GOES RIGHT ALONG WITH, "Read my lips...NO new taxes."
            • Soccer Stadium
              There is no problems with Pacers or Colts receiving money but when a soccer stadium is in question then everyone has something to say.
              • Conflict of Interest?
                By the way, doesn't it at least border on the crime of bribery that the same CIB members who vote on giving tens of millions of tax dollars to the Colts and Pacers receive free tickets into suites at both Lucas Oil Stadium and the BL Fieldhouse for all events?
              • Done deal?
                Does the vote of this unelected board legally bind the City to provide these taxpayer funds to the Pacers? Isn't the City County Council required to approve the annual budget of the CIB? If additional taxes (which Ms. Lathrop tells us are not "planned") do end up being needed, isn't the Council the only body with the authority to raise them?

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