IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Deal for Pacers is worth making

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IBJ Editorial

Our libraries are at risk! Our schools are in trouble! We need more police officers, new sewers and better streets!

So say those who decry the new Conseco Fieldhouse deal. All their claims are true. But they don’t change the fact that we need the Indiana Pacers, too.

Conseco Fieldhouse does not belong to the Pacers, but to the city. On July 12, the Capital Improvement Board, the government entity responsible for the facility, agreed to pick up $10 million of its annual operating costs the next three years, and pay for $3.5 million in capital improvements.

That’s a lot of money. But it’s much less than the $15 million a year the Pacers asked for, or the entire $14 million to $18 million in annual expenses that the city would be stuck with if the Pacers dribbled out of town. Given that the team claims it has lost money every year but one since moving to the fieldhouse, the team’s future here could have been in jeopardy had CIB not made a deal. And CIB plans to cover the new costs it has assumed without any tax increases—no small feat in the current economic climate.

CIB was wise to cut a short-term deal. By the time it expires in three years, the convention center expansion will be complete, the economy may well have rebounded, and NBA team owners may have succeeded in lowering players’ pay. The union agreement that covers player salaries expires next July.

With any luck, in three years, both the Pacers and CIB will be on firmer financial footing.

Studies say the Pacers generate $55 million a year for the local economy, including $15 million in local tax revenue and 1,000 jobs. The presence of the Pacers and the WNBA Indiana Fever has a ripple effect on the 66,000 people employed by the local hospitality industry.

Professional sports also benefit our city in less tangible ways. Having the Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts here brings Indianapolis national recognition, and helps sell the city as a place to live, work and locate a company. They have played an important role in revitalizing our downtown and buoying our economy. They give Indianapolis cachet.

The team’s detractors make some legitimate points. The team’s performance (on and off the court) has fallen short in recent years, and the need for a bailout is unfortunate at a time when basic city services are in jeopardy. But letting the team go wouldn’t solve those problems and, in fact, would create new ones.

In a statement released after the CIB announcement, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce likened our major facilities downtown to a sports and hospitality ecosystem. “If you remove part of the system—by losing the Pacers, for example—you devalue all of it.”

None of us can afford that.•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  • Bad Assumptions
    Why do the IBJ editors refuse to acknowledge the fact that the Pacers could not have moved...that the penalties in trying to move were enormous, nearly $150 million. It was never going to happen. There was no reason to make the deal.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

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  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

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