Indiana House gatekeeper open to soccer stadium

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Indiana House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown said Wednesday that he will consider the Indy Eleven professional soccer team’s request for state aid to build a downtown stadium.

The team kicks off its first season this spring at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, but owner Ersal Ozdemir hopes the state will help finance a new $87 million stadium by allowing the team to capture ticket, sales and income taxes generated by the facility.

Brown said he’s familiar with the Indy Eleven proposal and expects to hear it as part of a Senate bill that will go before Ways and Means committee if it passes the Senate by the Feb. 5 deadline. The targeted bill is SB 308, which deals with the Professional Sports Development Area in Fort Wayne.

Brown said SB 308 hasn't yet been amended, but Brown said it's a "natural fit" to carry the soccer-stadium proposal. SB 308 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Ozdemir contends the multipurpose stadium will nearly pay for itself, since most of the debt service would be covered by ticket-tax revenue generated by events.

Brown said he’s concerned about the sales and income-tax revenue that would be captured as well. 

“Does this reduce and put strains on revenue we’ve forecasted?” asked Brown, a Republican from Crawfordsville.

Brown said he also wonders how many more event venues Indianapolis can absorb without a negative financial impact.

“My question, especially as they talk about a multiuse facility, is the impact on others, even outside of downtown,” he said. He said he's already heard some feedback from Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville.

Just last year the Legislature OK’d capturing tax revenue at the privately owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway to finance $100 million in grandstand and lighting improvements.

Brown said lawmakers will likely consider whether a deal for the IndyEleven should parallel the one for the IMS, which ultimately was required to put $2 million a year in cash toward the project.

Indy Eleven lobbyist Murray Clark has said the 18,500-seat soccer stadium would differ from the IMS in that it would be publicly owned. Ozdemir considers the admissions tax to be the team's financial contribution because it adds to the total cost of tickets and limits the team's profit margin.

Brown acknowledged the backlash that arises from ongoing public aid for professional sports. Historically, it’s been justified by national and international brand recognition brought by the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and the Indy 500, he said. As lawmakers consider helping a fledgling soccer team with a new stadium, he said, “We just have to look at the use and the economic impact.”


  • Track record
    Mona GuthrieJanuary 26, 2014 12:03 PM "The taxpayer-owned home of the Chicago Fire has come up millions of dollars short of making its debt payments since opening in 2006. Meanwhile, the town has nearly tripled property taxes in less than a decade, even as the town offset some of the financial sting by taking out more loans to help make payments." "In comparing towns' debt to property values, the Tribune found Bridgeview had the highest debt rate in the Chicago area. Much of the debt is tied to a stadium deal in which the newspaper found insiders landed contracts and town officials enriched their political funds with stadium vendor donations." "Bridgeview officials stung by a costly soccer stadium got an earful from angry residents Wednesday who complained of a lack of answers on how much the struggling venture will cost them." http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-20/news/ct-met-bridgeview-meeting-0621-20120621_1_bridgeview-stadium-deal-debt-payments
    @Chuck, I would be the first one not to attend soccer games if it was played on a baseball stadium. I watched Argentina vs Bosnia at the Cardinals baseball field and it was horrible. I guarantee you nobody would rather watch it on the Indians field rather on a small soccer stadium.
  • baseball
    I watched the Portland Timbers play at PGE Park for years. Fitting soccer into a baseball stadium wasn't ideal, but it worked fine and was a really good experience. Eventually the stadium was remodeled for soccer (the baseball team was sold). Victory Field would be a much better experience than Carroll (Kutz is totally inadequate), and not a poor experience at all. The fans make the experience. Ozdemir should use Victory Field for a few years, prove his commitment to soccer (the history of US minor league soccer teams folding is a multi-volume tome) while the city proves it commitment to the team. THEN push for a stadium.
  • Rendering
    Has a rendering for the stadium been released yet?
  • Pay for your own entertainment
    So if his projected ticket sales (number of tickets sold and price) are such that the 'ticket tax' will nearly cover the debt service, then why does he want the taxpayers to guarantee the debt service? How about he funds building this stadium and he can negotiate prices with any other organization that wants to use it for events when there is no soccer match?
  • Pipe dreams
    I'll believe attendance of 18,500 when I see it. We pay for another playground for another sports owner with his hand out. Play across from old Victory Field on 16th St, until your product is proven. Then pay for your own stadium!
  • Actual season tickets bought
    Ersal came out yesterday saying that the amount of season tickets (not deposits) is over 7000 (you could add tickets when selecting a seat)
  • Play your matches &
    There is a lot of support for major league soccer and the Indy Eleven franchise. Many of the same people that are saying NO to a new stadium are incredibly supportive of the team and work hard to make Indy a world-class place to live and visit. The question at hand is simple: Do we want to spend the tax dollars that Indy Eleven is going to generate one way or another on a new stadium? The team will generate the tax revenue at whichever venue they play at. Many believe that Indy Eleven should be a good corporate citizens and generate some revenue for the good of the City *first* and wait for *any* public assistance for a new stadium until *later*. There are better uses for the tax revenue Indy Eleven will generate (schools, jobs, neighborhoods) which may better contribute to Indy continuing to grow into a great city right now. It's about prioritizing how the tax dollars are spent. Welcome Indy Eleven! Glad you're here and looking forward to a great season, and many more. Now play your matches and keep your hands off our taxes. Yes, I have paid in full for my season 2 tix!
  • Debt Service
    Maria - please look up the definition of "Debt Service" and then revise your "calculations"; not that they would be any more on target, but none-the-less, you should know the meaning of debt service.
  • More Than Ticket Tax
    The $8.8 million in tax revenue generated encompasses more than just the revenue from the 10% ticket-tax. It also includes the sales tax and state and local income tax generated at the proposed stadium, during Indy Eleven games and other events, and by the Team. There is no break down of how all of those taxes contribute to the total figure of $8.8 million. Prior comments about how that total figure equates to absurdly high average ticket prices are off base. I am not saying I am in favor one way or the other, or that Ozdemir's assertions are accurate. I am just saying that the basis for those comments are flawed.
  • Another quote
    "Ozdemir contends the multipurpose stadium will nearly pay for itself, since most of the debt service would be covered by ticket-tax revenue generated by events." Sounds like he expects the city to pay for most of the stadium. And when the ticket tax revenue comes in dramatically lower than what he's asking for, guess who has to eat the cost? The taxpayers of Marion County!
  • Calculations
    Ohhhhhhhhhh, I see, you forgot to read. Let me summarize, sorry, let me QUOTE the article....... "Hopes the state will HELP finance".... HELP, not 100% pay for with ticket tax revenue. Wow, read the article. People, this is not "tax payer money" for pete-sake. This is money that does not exist, anywhere, not here, not there, no where. This millionaire is saying, I want to build this business, bring tons of revenue, opportunity, and possibilities to the area for an entirely, brand new market/sports franchise, and all you can say is "no, don't give him a portion of the revenue that he himself creates to help the business get going". What? The money does not exist yet, let him have the tax for a few years, heck, 5 years, then it comes back to the city and bam, brand new money, brand new economic impact, you know, to go along with the rental car tax from visitors, food/restaurant tax from spectators, airline traffic/tax from traveling teams/fans, etc., etc., etc. Have some vision, quit crying about money that does not exist yet, he is not asking you for your tax money, it isn't coming out of your pocket, it doesn't exist. Also, the Broad Ripple garage stinks!
    • revised calculations
      They claim that the team will generate $8.8 million dollars in ticket tax revenue per year. Since the ticket tax is currently 10%, that would equate to ticket sales of $88 million per year. Since a season is 28 games, that would be $6,285,714.29 in ticket revenue for each of the 14 home games. If you take the average NALS attendance per game for 2013 of 4,670, that would mean an average ticket price of $1,345.98. Even if you assume every game is a sellout of 18,500, that would mean an average ticket price of $339.77. It simply does not add up. It's embarrassing that our media does not want to question these numbers.
    • Maria
      Only half those games are home games (14) so you'd have to double your calculations! Each game would need to generate over $6 million in revenue per home game assuming a 10% ticket tax.
    • Ok
      I believe that Ersal did confirm the other day that there are indeed 7k season tickets sold not just deposits. Also to the math about cost of tickets. I am curious if the tax on tickets to pay for the venue is just straight soccer tickets or would it also be included on say concert tickets at the venue or if they brought in another international game or hosted some ncaa games there as well. Which would lower the cost of the ticket price you gave.
    • calcuations
      Welfare Queen Ersal Ozdemir claims that the team will generate $8.8 million dollars in ticket tax revenue per year. Since the ticket tax is currently 10%, that would equate to ticket sales of $88 million per year. Since a season is 28 games, that would be $3,142,857 in ticket revenue per game. If you take the average NALS attendance per game for 2013 of 4,670, that would mean an average ticket price of $672.99. Even if you assume every game is a sellout of 18,500, that would mean an average ticket price of $169.88. It does not add up.
      • Email Tim Brown your thoughts
        For it or against it - email Tim how you want the his committee and your rep to vote. h41@in.gov Kathleen - Maybe you could include the rest of the committee emails and phone numbers.
      • Corporate Profit, Public Losses Is Not a Public/Private Partnership
        Raise the money from investors not taxpayers Mr Ozdemir.
      • Maria -
        What "simple and quick" calculations are you talking about Maria? I would love to know.
      • OF COURSE!
        Of course Tim Brown would consider supporting Ozdemir's plan.... He's a Republican, and he needs campaign financing too!!
      • season tickets
        Can anyone provide the number of season tickets that have been bought, not deposits put down?
        • Re: Travis
          There are many reasons why existing stadiums are not a solution. Carroll Stadium (current stadium on IUPUI campus) is very small and the owners anticipate needing extra seating. Lucas Oil Stadium costs far too much to operate. Unless they want to charge $100 per ticket, or manage to get 40,000 people per game there, it would likely cost too much to open and operate the stadium. Victory Field isn't an option because the seasons overlap and baseball stadiums offer a very poor experience for other sporting events. I think the Indy Eleven will need a new stadium very soon. If the initial interest in the team continues over the next few years, they will need a larger stadium. The goal is to eventually move into the MLS and the MLS would not allow a team to play at Carroll. I do, however, think that they are asking too much. I know stadiums are expensive, but if the owners are this confident in the need for a larger, dedicated soccer stadium, they need to cover much more of the expense. I could agree with a zero interest loan from the state to help them out, but I don't think we should be gifting another stadium through taxpayer funds.
          • Just like Nancy said
            Just say NO! A few simple calculations will tell you there is absolutely no way ticket tax revenue will even come close to covering half of what they are asking for. Who will finally be the brave politician to finallh stand up to Ersal Ozdemir? You would think one of these "fiscal conservatives" would have by now...
          • wrong side of the story
            The first question that needs to be asked is why none of the city's existing stadiums will not work for the team. Land is a valuable resource and parking around stadiums eat up a lot of developer land. By adding a new sport to an existing stadium, you are better utilizing the infrastructure you already have. I would rather see the city pitch in for the retooling of IUPUI's facilities or help pay fees for use of Lucas oil than build another large stadium. Especially since the team does not have a track record yet. The Pacers have shown us how quickly Indianapolis can shun a team that does not represent our city well. Thankfully, they learned from it.

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            1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

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