Team owners leading symphony's $100M capital campaign

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The owners of two of the city’s professional sports teams are coming together to help the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra raise $100 million in an effort to avoid a growing budget shortfall.

Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts and Herb Simon of the Indiana Pacers will co-chair the ISO’s capital campaign committee, the symphony announced early Monday morning.

The campaign is necessary to sustain ISO’s year-round activities and to ensure the long-term financial stability of the organization, ISO President Simon Crookall said in a prepared statement.

“We are delighted to have the leaders of our community’s preeminent sports teams involved with our campaign,” he said. “All three organizations strive for top-quality performance in every aspect of our businesses and we look forward to working with Herb Simon and Jim Irsay and the members of their teams as we embark on our first major capital campaign in many years.”

The Indiana Symphony Society reported at November’s annual board of directors meeting a record $2.8 million shortfall for the 2009 fiscal year.

The society, the parent organization of the ISO, ended fiscal 2009 on Aug. 31, with $28.3 million in expenses and $25.5 million in revenue.

Crookall said then that he expects a smaller but still significant gap of $1.3 million in the 2010 budget year.

The ISO ended the 2008 fiscal year in the red as well, but the $293,000 deficit on revenue of $28.2 million, was minor compared with the past year.

All revenue sources shrank in the 2009 fiscal year, the society said. Ticket sales were down, particularly in late 2008. Annual giving and major gifts declined. A third, major source of cash, the ISO Foundation, suffered millions in investment losses.

The foundation’s worth shrank from a high of $128 million in 2007 to about $90 million in 2010. Increasing the endowment by $100 million will help secure the ISO’s future as a full-time symphony that presents quality concerts and community programs, Crookall said.

While this may be the most ambitious partnership the ISO has formed with the two teams, it’s not the first time they’ve paired up.

Former players for both teams have graced the ISO stage. They include former Pacers star Reggie Miller, who narrated Peter and the Wolf, and Colts tight end Ben Utecht, who co-hosted the annual Yuletide Celebration with singer Sandi Patty.

Further, the ISO was the first musical group to perform at the Colts’ grand-opening celebration for Lucas Oil Stadium. And on Aug. 7, Pacers Sports & Entertainment and the ISO will present the Video Games Live concert at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Serving with Irsay and Simon on the capital campaign committee: John Cannon, executive vice president and general counsel at WellPoint Inc.; Scott Jones, entrepreneur and founder of ChaCha Search Inc.; Sarah Lechleiter, ISO board member; Marni McKinney, chairwoman of M&I Bank’s Indiana region; Bart Peterson, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications at Eli Lilly and Co.; Marianne Williams Tobias, ISO program book annotator and board member; and John Thornburgh, partner at Ice Miller LLP and ISO board chairman.



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