IMS seeks state help for $70M in upgrades

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway says it is supporting a proposal in the General Assembly creating an Indiana Motorsports Investment District that would capture state sales, income and corporate taxes for future investment in the Speedway.

State Senator Michael Young (R-Speedway) is expected to introduce a bill Monday creating the district, which would include the Speedway and surrounding commercial property.

The IMS said approval would pave the way for at least $70 million in capital improvements. Potential projects include installing lights for night events at the 2.5-mile oval; adding high-definition video boards, LED scoring and information boards; technology upgrades designed to increase fan communication; and renovations to stands.

 “IMS is an enormous, 100-year-old facility. In addition to the many annual projects to maintain it, we need to make the Speedway more flexible, more modern and better positioned to attract more fans to IMS and Indiana,” Jeff Belskus, IMS’ CEO, said in a statement.

The push marks a departure for the IMS, which historically has not asked for public subsidies, even as the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers won large government financing packages for new stadiums.

The Indiana Motorsports Association said in a statement that the financial help would strengthen the state’s tourism and hospitality industries and overall economy.

“It is clear motorsports plays an important role in the success of the Indiana economy, and there is no place in the world better identified with our industry than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Executive Director Tom Weisenbach said in a statement.



  • I've seen these same responses before.
    Well, the typical responses from the Indycar Goon Squad. And Indyman, do not count me in as one that wants to see IMS go away.You need to get back and work your talking points out with The Disciple. According to him there is nothing that is going to make IMS go-away. You're slipping by admitting things might not be as sure a thing.
  • Chief and his hater friends will not be happy til the Speedway goes the way of his favorite series. Therefore trying to discuss this with them is an exercise in futility.
  • Robin
    Who cares? Sure, it's a great idea to save the old speedplant. I'd even agree with that....just not with public funds.
  • Reading Provides Knowledge
    Chief, even Robin Miller believes this is a good idea. This is the 21st century. Please join the rest of us and leave the hostile sign waving to the Phelps family.
  • Wrong, Sporto
    IMS wants $$$ to fix up the joint. And, they want to do it by getting tax payers to pay for it. I stand by my conclusions. But, taxpayers must ask themselves....will all the $100 MILLION make one bit of difference to the bottom line? That is, making the sport more popular? All signs point to NO FREAKING WAY.
  • Ignorance on Display
    Critics who speak before thinking have begun pigeonholing one or two items to which they choose to be offended. Everything from 'lights so NASCAR can run at night' to 'new grandstands,' etc. Truth is the funding is for something much bigger potentially. Gentrification of lots of areas around the Speedway to cultivate new business. A prime example of the effects in action include the Dallara facility and the new SFHR headquarters in Speedway. IBJ reports elsewhere 'The Speedway Redevelopment Commission in recent years has been working on plans to revitalize several blocks along Main Street by the Speedway, including removing industrial blight and attracting new businesses.' Chief, I might suggest asking an adult to read the facts to you to gain even a fundamental understanding of what is actually involved.
  • Again, not relevant
    What Texas or other tracks do is their business. This is Indy, a proud self supporting PRIVATE business. The speedway willfully and deliberately did not make improvements over the years. It's IMS' fault and not the responsibility of taxpayers. I can see the state coughing up funding to improve roadways or other infrastructure, but not grandstands. The speedway needs prop-up funds from the government. That's it in the nutshell...and Mark Miles has the clout right now to get it done. But, it's wrong.
  • Thank Goodness A Few Of Us Can Use Our Brains
    So Chief, I'll mark your response as a hostile 'no.' Also, the notion that IMS is 'out of cash' or need to 'keep it afloat' demonstrates a level of ignorance that is simultaneously stunning and laughable. How about the taxpayers in Texas or North Carolina or Florida or most other states that are paying a lot more to maintain racing facilities in those states? Does your cutesy little crusade speak on their behalf as well? LOL
  • Nope
    It just shows that they are out of ca$h and need to public funding to keep it afloat. Why is it necessary for this stupid poll of yours? Whether or not Indiana citizens have even attended the 500 or Speedway is irrelevant. Point IS that they will all be affected as taxing the poor for the benefit of the rich is not reliant on whether or not someone has attended an IMS racing event in the past 100+ years. See what I mean...they want YOU to pay for their INEPT business. Don't do it Indiana Taxpayers. When the man is foreclosing on your house, you think the ADA recommended $100MILLION dollar improvement are gonna help you? No way.
  • 1995, Huh? LOL. I Was Seeking Input From Actual Racing Fans
    And yet, Carter, here you are, eighteen years down the road, cramming in woefully outdated talking points about your self perceived utopian days of yore. That makes no sense. Your little klatch is like the Westboro Baptist Church of IndyCar racing. Pointless, annoying and for no apparent reason. Meantime, here in the 21st century, IMS is doing something everyone else has done for decades. One of your quaint talking points of the past is how badly IMS is managed. Does this mean a very contemporary method of financing now makes them smarter than they were?
  • No thanks
    I guess the pomposity of one self-styled super fan knows no bounds. It is bad enough he turns the IBJ comment sections into his own personal blog. Now he feels a need to dole out his advice. A true reflection of the problems that have brought IMS to this point. A sport tarnished by the unwanted and unneeded. And just for the record, I have been inside IMS. Many times. But, not since 1995's Pole Day when I and others had to listen to the Indyites crow about how their leader was going to save Indy-styled racing. Maybe it is all caused by the provincialism that stifles the place. I hope the good citizens consider t.i.f. styled taxes for something that actually benefits their futures and not plugs holes in something well past its prime.
  • Oh The Humanity II
    Still unanswered: How many of the vociferous critics have ever set foot inside the facility or even live in the area? Guess cats have their tongues. Also why aren't any of you burning members of the France family, Bruton Smith, or any other track owner in effigy? After all the manner of financing you suddenly decry is standard business practice (and has been for decades) in not only other racing organizations, but all professional sports, and lots of other business entities. The only surprising aspect is that it took IMS so long. The amount of funding we're talking about pales in comparison to nearly everyone else. My advice: Find some other more deserving 'issue' on which to foist your quaint hostilities.
  • No
    Absolutely not. That speedway is a private business. As such, it should upgrade itself. What IS the city's problem is the state of SPEEDWAY. Aside from the track, that whole area is run down and broken, including the streets.
  • 25/8
    It will take north of $70 million to get the rotten stench of young Anton's "management" out of IMS*. Question: If IMS* is making so much cash, why the need for public funds? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • Nonsense
    Compelling arguments, all of them. But the truth is this would be throwing good money after bad. The month of May is only like 10 to 14 days...mostly empty grandstands on all but one of the days and it's hardly because of some ADA violations. Sinking $100 MILLION into making the bathrooms not leak sewage or covering the rust won't have much impact...the product is unmarketable. You'll have a $100MILLION invested in property that is worthless. Remember, TV ratings for the greatest race in the universe are at lowest levels ever over the past 5 years. Proof positive this is a dumb idea to force the public to pay for the sins of the owners of 16th and Jonestown.
  • The Injection of Sense
    Indyman how dare you bring sense to the comment section. Are you not aware there is incessant ranting that must occur? ;-) For me it is really pretty simple. Folks need to tally how much economic impact that facility has provided for over 100 years. Then keep in mind that up until now it has been entirely self-funded. Now they are being criticized for merely striving to be normal with regard to local support, like all other tracks? My question as to how many of these vocal critics have actually set foot inside the place has gone unanswered.
  • Basically you have three camps here. You have those who are for TIFs and government support of private industry, those against and those who hate anything IMS or Indycar. Until TG gives a personal apology to Chief for running his beloved ccws/owrs/cart out of business, the haters will continue their single minded vendetta against Indycar. So their rants can be discarded. TIF districts are common across the country and I doubt many cities do not use them. They encourage businesses to build, expand or rehab by using tax dollars made in a certain geographic area. Like or hate them, they are very important development tools. There is no question the hundreds of millions of dollars the speedway brings into Indy between the races, the race teams, the racing supply companies and the Indycar Series. That also does not include the millions the Hulman Family and IMS have invested and given to the surrounding community. From buying up and tearing down eyesores around the track, to money invested in the current rehab of areas around the track to the millions they have put into previous construction projects around the perimeter around the track. You also have to look at IMS's competitors. I would doubt there is a track built in the last 30 years that has not had heavy taxpayer investment. Texas alone is investing up to $29 mil a year for 10 years in Austin. With that kind of competition, it only surprising that it has taken this long for the State to look at supporting the track. In the end, kicking some of the millions earned in tax money back to improve the Track seems a small investment with a big return. Remember, if the track cannot keep up with its rivals and loses fans and/or races, then the millions brought in will go away as well. The question is then is it worthwhile for the taxpayers
  • All facts....
    Some can't accept facts so they childishly write long paragraphs 'defending' the speedway in blind fashion. This is a fine example what is wrong with the sport...yes-men and speedway propagandists come here to refute FACT. So, if the Speedway fleeces the public out of $100MILLION to fix what they messed up and refuse to pay for now, it'll be $900 MILLION blown by the Speedway and its crack owners since 1996. Heck, maybe the public should be fleeced to resurrect Riverside, Nazareth, or Trenton speedways too. DON'T FALL FOR THIS SCAM Indiana citizens! This is money will just grease the palms of the Speedway owners and will be for naught.
  • Commentary By Adults Is Encouraged
    “Yes, just like the temporary street racing events are financed by local/state governments.” Correct. And I actually do not agree with that practice. The voodoo economics used by those who thought they were a good idea rarely works. All one needs to do for proof is look at the number of failed ventures that litter the history of open wheel. The Speedway, on the other hand, is a much different animal. “Indycar has an un-marketable product.” Better tell that to Izod, Honda, Chevrolet, Sunoco, Verizon, Avis, Exact Target, Firestone, Lids, and the other twenty or so corporate partners, not to mention a fully sponsored grid. Not sure that particular taunt has anything to do with the topic at hand, but Chief hysterical talking point 1: Mission accomplished. “And the DW12 car and the Dallara factory....all subsidized by the inept folks that ran AOW racing into the dumpster.” Oddly, AOW has been operating nonstop for more decades than any reader of this column has been alive. But Chief hysterical talking point 2: Mission accomplished. “The car is SO ugly even the media refers it as UGLY.” This one is so far away from the topic that it’s ridiculous. The media and fans with actual sense praise the quality of racing seen on any type of course last season. But Chief hysterical talking point 3: Mission accomplished. “So, WHY on earth shouldn't these folks pay for this with with their OWN private business monies? The people of INDIANA should be OUTRAGED. If not, they are all part and parcel in allowing this scam to continue.” Did you have this much angst when the Colts and Pacers built multiple new arenas with a much higher percentage of public funding and not contributing money of their own? And you do understand that the 500 generates a verifiable $104 million every year to the local economy than the Colts? If you and your little kiddie buddies believe this is a scam then you need to pay closer attention to economics once you reach the fourth grade. “SERIOUSLY, does anyone realize this series/IMS hasn't made a penny in 16 years? Do they realize the sport has 0.18 tv ratings and low attendances?” Actually, IMS has been profitable and IndyCar seems OK to me. Season 17 begins in a little over 100 days. I just love how you isolate a small cable 12+ overnight on a cable channel and project that as the standard. Season attendance of well over a million again last year are numbers other sports and entertainment entities would love to have. But again, what does that cutesy little rant have to do with the actual column topic? Oh, wait. Chief hysterical talking point 4: Mission accomplished. “They've been tossed out of 99% of all ovals everywhere?” That percentage seems a bit high. I am thankful they do not have the overall failure percentage of the twice defunct CART series. Not sure what that has to do with the topic either, but Chief hysterical talking point 5: Mission accomplished. “I am 110% against using my tax money for this purpose. This is nothing but a public bailout for an inept failing business. Period.” In what part of Speedway or Indiana do you reside? Why not call either your elected representative to express your quaint umbrage instead of acting foolish on the Internet, or heck…just call ‘ol J.C. He knows people. LOL. “Dipsicle talking about credibility is like Al Qaeda discussing peace. You have none, that's why you change your "handle" so often. Banned from motorsports forums for various offenses including blatant lies, racism and porn. Is the EARL TV contract still north of $20 million? How are those key metrics looking?” Well enough to wonder what causes such vapid obsession that invariably veers so distantly from the actual topic that I am certain I remain far from alone when recommending that you kids find some kind of new schtick.
  • Key issue: Credibility
    Dipsicle talking about credibility is like Al Qaeda discussing peace. You have none, that's why you change your "handle" so often. Banned from motorsports forums for various offenses including blatant lies, racism and porn. Is the EARL TV contract still north of $20 million? How are those key metrics looking?
  • This is a TAXPAYER Bailout
    Yes, just like the temporary street racing events are financed by local/state governments. Indycar has an un-marketable product. And the DW12 car and the Dallara factory....all subsidized by the inept folks that ran AOW racing into the dumpster. The car is SO ugly even the media refers it as UGLY. So, WHY on earth shouldn't these folks pay for this with with their OWN private business monies? The people of INDIANA should be OUTRAGED. If not, they are all part and parcel in allowing this scam to continue. SERIOUSLY, does anyone realize this series/IMS hasn't made a penny in 16 years? Do they realize the sport has 0.18 tv ratings and low attendances? They've been tossed out of 99% of all ovals everywhere? I am 110% against using my tax money for this purpose. This is nothing but a public bailout for an inept failing business. Period.
  • Disciple/Defender
    Is a first class hypocrite and nothing but a "placefan". You and your buddy Jim Wilke have both posted at tf how using tax money for racing is bad. Now it is good because it is the speedway. You really must make up your mind.
  • Same Rant Different Day
    I would be interested in knowing how many of the most virulent anti-IMS critics spouting mostly nonsense diatribes in this matter have ever even set foot inside IMS. After all, it does not take much effort to tap out repetitive missive, regardless of the issue.
  • That won't improve
    What is the sales tax, income tax and corporate tax revenue of that economic impact? Justification of the state making well over 100 million in bond payments needs to be an INCREASED revenue in excess of the bond, and interest. Nothing the speedway has done in the last 5 years has spurred significant increases in attendance or interest... and no new economic impact. The speedway spent 600 million building a pagota and other improvements, ignored handicap needs. That is not on the state to bail out. This "maybe we'll add lights, maybe we'll fix our ADA issues, maybe we'll add screens" crap is a joke. If you want legislation, spell out your plant to generate a return on that investment. This group runs a higher percentage of loss making events than any other sport... they aren't going to produce anything positive out of this.
  • need help with my remodel
    I need $20,,000.00 to do some remodeling on my home. Our State congress people should be asamed to even think about this with all people who need jobs,food and places to live
  • Dilapitated
    The area around the Speedway track has been dilapidated as long as the track has been there. There is no positive economic impact from the track to the local community, and that is obvious by simply looking at the community. People aren't interested living next to a behemoth that is empty for 350 days of a year. If the Georges' had sense, they could have expanded activities during the year with smaller events, racing even. But providing economic prosperity for the community requires more than just a couple big events during the year. And community is what this is all about right? The Field House and Lucas Oil Stadium are prime examples of public financing failing us badly. Using them as examples of the "norm" is about as wise as paying a very bad CEO millions of dollars a year, and millions more when you kick them out, because that is simply "the norm". There are no shortage of public financing opportunities out there, if that's your thing.
  • Buy your own track
    Do the taxpayers own IMS? Otherwise, pay for your own track. The city owns Lucas oil and the fieldhouse, thats why we subsidize it. I think the George family actually owns the track. If so, upgrade yourself. the attendance has been way down. dying sport. bye bye
  • Public Private Partnership Don't Give All The Profits To Private & Losses To Public
    Lets put our subsidy of private sports and entertainment in perspective. Matthew Tully: Let's end boondoggle of horse-racing subsidy in Indiana http://www.indystar.com/article/20130129/NEWS08/301300305/Matthew-Tully-Let-s-end-boondoggle-horse-racing-subsidy-Indiana?nclick_check=1
  • Why can't they pay for this improvents themselves?
    Hulman Family Strikes Oil On Vigo Country http://tribstar.com/news/x1348435941/Oil-struck-in-Eastern-Vigo-County
  • Domed
    Oh the humanity. LOL. You do realize that these days public financing is commonplace, right? And you do realize IMS is contributing, right? And you do understand that the VERIFIED total economic impact of IMS to the state of Indiana in any given year is north of ONE BILLION DOLLARS, right? Your quaint angst is amusingly misplaced. And will you ever offer any sort of accounting for that supposed $800 million? Didn't think so. Please continue your hysterical festering, kid.
    • WHY?
      Oh, come on now. This is a PRIVATE COMPANY, it's not tax payers responsibility to prop up the inept moronic stupidity that is Indianapolis Moter Speedway. IF the speedway had not wasted $800 MILLIONS securing AOW oval racing with the IRL since 1996....heck, this $100 Million for "upgrades" would be pocket change. How much longer is the public gonna be forced to pay for Hulamn Family's poor business practices? Public funds funded the Dallara Italian Coffee House and the Federal Stimulus monies paid for the new chassis (the one that is the ugliest car since the UGLY INDYCAR championship trophy was welded together). I am AGAINST this Speedway SOCIALISM!!! Charge more for E Stand tickets or Museum attendance...but STOP putting this on the backs of TAXPAYERS!
    • No Need To Panic Over Gentrification
      Time for a rational, adult look this situation. Long time admirers of the track and its ownership have been proud of the fact that IMS says it has never, ever accepted any sort of public money for anything at IMS. Presumably IMS did not want to become beholden to anyone other than themselves. They even turned down $25 million dollars from the state a few years ago to keep Formula One at the track. In this time and place, however, things are different. IMS is desperately in need of improvement. This need has become profound since Tony George, the last philosophical link to Tony Hulman, was forced out. Those who succeeded George have allowed the type of quality maintenance that was standard in the past to become an afterthought today. Throughout the facility degeneration is obvious, from a museum parking lot that is falling apart to foot bridges on IMS land that are literally rotting away to now antique scoring and video structures that are relentlessly rusting away. Add to that a recent ruling that IMS is woefully deficient in adherence to ADA standards, and they are looking at expenditures in the hundreds of millions. Mandatory improvements must be made, and there is no choice. This in particular changes the dynamic. How much money are we talking about? Essentially it is a $100 million bond, and IMS is on the hook for $2 million annually. The state contributes $5 million annually, property taxes will not be used, and presumably no new taxes will be assessed. The expenditure is couched in phrases such as ‘Indiana Motorsports Investment District.’ It is actually a smart idea, and hopefully the money will not be limited to inside the tunnels. Three of the four sides around the track contain neighborhoods that have either become ghettos or dilapidated, economically distressed and/or vacant properties. 38th Street near the track is a ghost town, and the once vibrant Lafayette Square Mall is now nothing more than shells of vacant and long departed anchors. Folks usually do not go there unless they are armed. One of the last 38th Street holdouts, Honda West, is moving to Fishers once spring rolls around. Speedway redevelopment is going better than expected, but that sort of gentrification is absolutely essential for miles around the track to make it the showplace envisioned. Justification for such funding is actually very easy. Two years ago the Fiscal Times reported a $336 million economic impact annually for Indiana from the 500 alone. That is greater than either the Daytona 500 or the Super Bowl, according to Strategic Media Worldwide. Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly reported in 2011 that Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 contribute more than $727 million to Indiana’s economy. Annually IMS contributes north of one billion dollars of economic impact to the state and countless jobs that pay more than the average. The $336 million for the 500 is more than four times the $104 million economic of the Indianapolis Colts, according to statistics from Purdue University. Two Colts stadiums and Conseco were both almost entirely financed using public money, and that is the norm instead of the exception nationwide. Predictably, howls of protest will be heard from those whose mission in life seems to be portraying the institution that made the entire sport possible as destitute and hypocritical. That will not really change the ignorance, immaturity or outright stupidity that typifies the obsessed, lunatic railing of such obsessed gadflies, as evidenced by many of the comments herein. It will be interesting watching the metamorphosis of the grand old facility. From a practical standpoint and given attendance challenges, a really nice suggestion might be to work toward accommodation of the average sized racing fan, which is to say make the seats wider and deeper. Let us hope the money is spent wisely and with the continuous renewal theme that stretched from Tony Hulman to Tony George.
      • No
        No, no, a 1000 times no. Four wrongs do not make a right. We taxpayers paid through the nose to subsidize the Pacers and the Colts even though they are owned by billionaires. We have pro soccer chomping at the bit to have taxpayers build the team a downtown stadium. Now IMS wants its hand in our pockets. We need to start saying no to these corporate handouts.
      • 25/8
        Well that's one way to get all that money back that the twice fired Anton blew on the EARL. I would prefer a sale to NASCAR to avoid putting taxpayers on the hook for years of Hulman/George mismanagement.
      • Not Hard to Predict
        How can the Speedway folks look at their football and basketball brethren and not want subsidies in one form or another? Why should they be any different?
      • open up the books
        If the sppedway needs federal money to continue operating then the H/G KLAN needs to open up their books so we can all see once and for all that Tony did spend 600 million to keep the Irl running. Jim Wilke and John Howard are now about to get on this new tax bandwagon after being against it . What a bunch of hypocrites.
      • Hmm...
        How about, no. We should indeed invest $70 million in capital improvements, they need to be in that area surrounding the track, not at the track. And not entirely for private business property.
      • Typical
        Typical tax and spend to support more special interests. Next will be more taxes on gasoline sold in this district. Then more taxes on toilet paper. These special interests either stand on their own financial feet or go out of business.

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