MORTON: Indy's road to Oz will end soon for sports team owners

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

MortonThe seemingly endless yellow brick road to Oz, or what residents of central Indiana have come to accept as privately owned professional sports franchises seeking financial sustenance to build and upgrade, is nearing a tipping point of practical expenditures.

The recent announcement that Pacers Sports & Entertainment reached a 10-year, $160 million agreement to ensure the NBA franchise maintains its home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is definitely the right move by the Capital Improvement Board, the organization that owns the city’s professional sports venues.

Coincidentally, this agreement was announced as Stadium Magazine released its annual report ranking Lucas Oil Stadium as the National Football League’s top venue for stadium experience. For Colts fans, that’s good news given that taxpayers will pay $620 million of the $720 million construction costs financed by the state and city of Indianapolis for the stadium.

Other recent financial assistance packages include the state-funded $60 million refurbishment of the coliseum at the state fairgrounds that is now home to the soon-to-premier Indy Fuel hockey team and the $100 million, 20-year payback agreement by the state with Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This year’s legislative session also included an aggressive, yet unsuccessful, campaign by Indy Eleven seeking state funding for an $85 million soccer stadium.

We should all thank Max Schumacher, president and chairman of the Indianapolis Indians, for the organization’s continued self-investment to maintain and improve what many consider minor-league baseball’s finest stadium. Unlike the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts, the Indians pay all costs to preserve and upgrade the 18-year-old stadium, plus $500,000 in annual rental fees.

To clarify, CIB is funded by revenue accrued from hotel, food and beverages, and admissions taxes. Additional revenue is collected from rental fees, parking garages, car rental taxes, cigarette taxes, and also downtown income and sales taxes. By law, the revenue is restricted for purposes associated with the professional sports venues and the Indiana Convention Center.

There is little debate as to the importance sports has had on Indianapolis since the forward-thinking sports strategy was established in 1979. However, CIB and the state don’t have unlimited resources, and must be extremely prudent to even consider additional financial liabilities to support professional sports facilities.

CIB is obligated to invest in the sports venues it currently owns and supports (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field). Accordingly, the city and state need to learn to say no to newcomers that come to the city’s pay window seeking a “please build it for us” proposition.

There is no debate that the Colts, Fever, Indians and Pacers are woven into the sports-licensed fabric of Indianapolis. Despite the city and/or state being on the hook to pay the financing for their respective home fields and stadiums, losing any of the teams would be a huge negative, and any replacement franchise would seek an even less attractive financial package. Besides, CIB needs the revenue from the combined 140 regular-season games the teams play annually to pay down the debt accrued to build the stadiums.

In two sold-out home games, Indy Eleven has demonstrated that minor-league professional soccer has a future in Indianapolis. Can the city and/or state help support a stadium near equal in cost to the $100 million-plus that owners would be required to pay for a minor-league soccer franchise? Could the Eleven establish a public-private partnership with Indiana University and continue to invest in the long-overdue refurbishment of Michael A. Carroll Stadium as its permanent home without building another stadium on the shoulders of taxpayers?

What happens when the emergence of lacrosse in the grass-roots market results in the professional league’s entering with a, “We’re here to, you know, … ” message? Are cricket and other sports still to be established domestically soon to follow?

“No” should be the answer to any team executives seeking outright funding for sports venue projects. Without significantly increased revenue to CIB coffers, the requests to finance home-team stadiums require more parity by team owners to help pay construction and maintenance costs. Also needed are a short-term proven team history, realistic ticket sales projections, and a taxpayer-favorable business model for stadium financing.

Otherwise, please think of the successes of the likes of Arlington, Texas; Foxboro, Mass.; and Glendale, Ariz.—where the teams’ home “city” negotiated more favorable terms to build stadiums in suburban communities. Maybe Boone or Hamilton counties want to enter the big leagues.•


Morton is principal of Indianapolis-based Sunrise Sports Group. Views expressed here are the writer’s.


  • Indy 11 should be Indiana 11 and located in Hamilton County
    The Indy 11 should be Indiana 11 and should be located with a new stadium in Hamilton County, perhaps near Fishers on I69 or Carmel near Keyston or Meridian. Indianapolis should not have any more professional sports stadiums, soccer North of Indianapolis, hockey at the Colliseum, IUPUI at the Colliseum, Rugby in Carmel, Soccer in Carmel, Lacross in Carmel, Cricket in Carmel. Get real, the fans are in Hamilton County. Hamilton County could even support a A or AA baseball team.
  • Soccer
    Expect Indy Eleven to be at the trough in a couple years. They even thing they need a new stadium. Improve the IUPUI stadium, parking already in place.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!