CIB, Pacers discussing three-year deal

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Talks between the city’s Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana Pacers to renegotiate the team’s lease for the city-owned Conseco Fieldhouse have shifted toward hammering out a short-term deal.

Mayor Greg Ballard and CIB member Paul Okeson this week confirmed there’s been talk of a three-year deal with the operating costs retroactive for the Pacers’ 2009-10 fiscal year.

The Pacers current lease runs through 2019, but the team recently asked for $15 million annually to offset Conseco Fieldhouse operating expenses, which they peg at $18 million.

Ballard told WTHR-TV Channel 13 this week that city officials might wait until the National Basketball Association and NBA Players Association work out a new collective bargaining agreement before signing the Pacers to a long-term lease.

The collective bargaining agreement expires in June 2011, and the league’s owners and players union are just beginning negotiations. So far those talks have been somewhat contentious.

NBA Commissioner David Stern recently told reporters that the league’s teams cumulatively lost $400 million this year. NBA Players Association boss Billy Hunter this month called that claim “baloney.”

Pacers officials have said the team lost about $30 million in each of the last two years and can no longer afford to pay for Fieldhouse operating expenses.

Okeson, who serves as Ballard’s point person on negotiations with the Pacers, called the possible short-term agreement “a deal point up for discussion.”

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Pacers officials prefer a longer-term deal. Pacers officials did not respond to requests for an interview about the lease negotations.

The pending collective bargaining agreement between NBA players and owners is only one factor in why the CIB thinks a short-term, stop-gap measure may be the best approach, Okeson said.

Okeson added that the unstable economy and the ongoing Indiana Convention Center expansion are other reasons CIB members are interested at looking at a short-term deal.

“With some of the unknown variables we’re dealing with right now, there are good reasons to consider a short-term deal,” Okeson said.

While negotiating another agreement in two years isn’t a pleasant scenario, Okeson said at that time “we can make a much more informed decision than we can today.”

Okeson said he and CIB President Ann Lathrop are talking with Pacers executives two or three times a week to try to get a deal done. Pacers officials hope to have a deal completed by June 30, which marks the end of their fiscal year.

“These aren’t hostile negotiations,” Okeson said. “These are civic, civil-minded negotiations.”

Still, Okeson said, there’s more to consider than merely the Pacers’ wants and needs.

“We want to protect the economic value that this team brings our city,” Okeson said. “But, at the same time, we want to sign a deal that is prudent, and accountable to the taxpayers.”


  • If this can happen to Seattle it can happen to you
    The NBA model just doesn't work. While mediocre players are getting outrageous contracts the NBA is losing money. If you want to know how the NBA works and how the NBA treated Seattle go to Sonicsgate.org and watch Sonicsgate. As a Sonics fan its absolutely gut wrenching! I cannot watch it again, its like tearing a scab open and pouring acid on it. Shame on you David Stern!!
  • Are You Sure?
    Frank, are you sure the CIB audit is not out and certain elected officials just are not revealing that fact?
  • Criminal
    It really is criminal that the CIB is even having this discussion. We cannot continue to use tax money for private sports teams instead of outdated utilities, poor schools and basic services.

    I do not buy the argument that these sports teams bring in enough revenue to offset the cash gifts that we are essentially giving them.
  • Who Needs Timely Financials... it is not a PRIORITY FOR THE CIB
    Frank your right after the CIB HEMORRAGE from 2008 where they could never get financial statements out you would have thought they would produce them by March of 2010 for 09 financials. I guess we will see them in September again. Its just numbers to them which is not important as they are playing business with OPM "Other Peoples Money".
    How can Okeson and Lathrop even sit at the table...Why has the PRODUCED the CIB AUDITED NUMBERS FOR 2009. It is almost 7 months after their year end. These people are CROOKS. Complete incompentents. The 2008 CIB numbers were restated and finally published in September 2009. Stop "playing business" and pay attention to the CIB SHOP. Business 101 GET the NUMBERS. You both are SLAPS.
    • New players at the table
      Based upon the CIB leaderships short sighted comments on having "taxpayers" unilaterally break a long term agreement with the Pacers BEFORE the NBA sorts out it player expense problem, Mayor Ballard needs to fire Paul Okeson and replace him with someone with common sense.
    • What Did You Expect?
      Did you all expect Paul Okeson to look out after the taxpayers' best interest? He's been in the Pacer's pocket from Day One.
    • Fix is in
      How can the Pacers make these claims of losses when no one is allowed to see their audited financials?
    • What a Deal !!!
      Hey CIB, can you pay my operating expenses, take no ownership interest, and leave me with all the profits?

      Only government would think this makes sense.
    • Here - Here
      I think that Georgeie Porgie has a valid point. If were goning to dump 18 mil a year, why not have it go directly to small bussiness loans. That way, we can actually spur developement downtown and thereby negate the "revenue" that the Pacers allegedly generate. Bring on Conseco Concert house.
    • Why Can't the Media Ask the CIB's Paul Okeson and Anne Lathrop A Tough Question?
      Why Can't the Media Ask the CIB's Paul Okeson and Anne Lathrop A Tough Question?

    • Back to Basics
      It's not the taxpayers nor management who should pay the operating cost deficit but rather the players. They need to take a deep salary cut until the league returns to the skills and, more importantly, the pride and professionalism we had with Reggie, the Davises, Austin Croshere and so many others. Then the Fieldhouse will fill again. Until then, let the bad boys pay the price!
    • Just Say NO
      The Pacers want a long term deal? They need to live within the current long term deal and the CIB needs to be working on how they are going to pay back the balloon payment of hundreds of millions to the Circle Center Mall investors in a few years.

      Maybe the Colts should be more of a more "civic" organization and get back taxpayer funded operating expenses.
    • Current NBA Stinks
      So, we're supposed to feel sorry for one of the wealthiest families in America, and use local taxpayer dollars to bail out their problems? If anyone thinks throwing $15 million taxpayer dollars at the Pacers is going to fix their problem, think again. The NBA is losing enormous amounts of money collectively for good reason - their product stinks, and corporate American and Joe Sixpack are moving on to other entertainment options. The NBA product has become un-watchable, and when you factor in the ridiculous money these thugs make, it makes it even more repugnant. I love basketball, but have absolutely no interest anymore in the Pacers, or the NBA for that matter. CIB: take note, this problem is much larger than you have been led to believe. Don't spend our money trying to save a sinking ship called the NBA.
    • Seriously?
      Anthony: Are these numbers correct? The Pacers are claiming it costs $49,315 A DAY to operate Conseco Fieldhouse. CIB member Paul Okeson says "we want to sign a deal that is prudent, and accountable to the taxpayers." Really Paul? Do the taxpayers get to see the numbers behind the $18 MILLION annual operating expense? Why in the world would CIB allow the Pacer's to continue to operate this venue? They are obviously clueless, and since its not their money, they don't really care.
    • prudent, and accountable to the taxpayers
      That's a new approach. I thought the CIB was already in the pockets of the NBA and the NFL. I want my tax money back, or at least spent to prop up my own business, which I think would be prudent, and in the best interest of the "other" taxpayers

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