Following Irsay arrest, sponsor support at 'highest point ever' for Colts

March 20, 2014
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Indianapolis Colts sponsors appear to be rallying behind, not abandoning, the team following owner Jim Irsay's March 16 arrest for driving under the influence and illegal drug possession in Carmel.

"The support level for the organization is at its highest point ever," said Dave Moroknek, CEO of Indianapolis-based MainGate Inc., a Colts sponsor which also handles the team's merchandise sales. "The sponsors are behind this team. People want to be there for the team at its time of need. We're certainly behind the man [Jim Irsay] right now."

The reason for the support is simple, Moroknek said.

"That man has done an unbelievable amount for this city," he said. "He's done a ton of charitable work and a lot of things people don't know about and will never know about because he hasn't sought to publicize them. People feel it's time to support Jim and his family since he's supported this community and the fans here."

Colts executives have been busy contacting sponsors since Monday, the day after Irsay's arrest, to explain to them the situation. Colts Chief Operating Pete Ward said that much of the response has been supportive.

Forrest Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil Co., one of the team's biggest sponsors, was contacted by the Colts Monday.

"I didn't hesitate to put my support behind Jim," Lucas said. "I'm not for drunk driving or drug abuse, but I think he's addressing those issues. None of that erases all the good this man has done for the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana."

Lucas said he knew Irsay wasn't well during this past season.

"I saw him in the suite at the playoff game in New England (Jan. 11)," Lucas said. "He was so stooped over with pain in his back and hips his hands were dragging the ground. He has a serious physical problem. He's not well. And apparently that's led to other issues. But I'm confident those things are now being addressed."

Moroknek and Lucas said they are being kept abreast of Irsay's situation by team executives.

"They've wanted to make sure [sponsors and team partners] are getting the news straight from the team," Moroknek said. "They wanted us to know what the organization's philosophies are and what the team stands for and assure us that isn't going to change."

Moroknek and Lucas don't seem too concerned about the team's short- and long-term future. Until Jim Irsay is back leading the team, his oldest daughter, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, 33, will sit in his chief executive's chair.

"My only concern is I hope Jim gets well," Lucas said. "He does not look healthy, and he hasn't for a while. As far as the team goes, it's running well, and I think that's a credit to what Jim has set up. They also have a group of experienced [executives] there to steer things while he's gone."

Lucas is less concerned about the team as he is about Indianapolis' ability to land the 2018 Super Bowl in the wake of Irsay's arrest. In 2008, Lucas Oil Co. signed a 20-year $121.5 million naming rights deal for the Colts home venue.

"Hosting the Super Bowl is a big deal to our company since our name is on the building," Lucas said. "I felt Indianapolis had the momentum before this, but now I don't know, especially if the NFL looks at this as though Jim Irsay has been disgraced. One thing is certain, [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell has to do something [to punish Irsay]. No matter what your problems are, no one is allowed to act the way [Irsay] has."

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  • Boobus Indianus
    Jimbo does not have to worry. You can never underestimate the intellect of your typical fellow Hoosier. They are like the Romans while in their decline. Levy all sorts of taxes on them to support the moochers of the upper class who are catered to by bought and paid for politicos of both parties. Boobus Indianus does not care as long as you give them their coliseums and games and allow them to mistakenly believe that their team's mediocre success somehow reflects well on them individually.
    • Ascendancy?
      Compared with our neighboring states economic stewardship I would hazard to state Boobus Indianus is expanding empire rather than contracting. If sports and tourism are a significant component and require taxation, bring on the beer and circus. For my Malcolm Gladwell-loving first poster, here is a quick clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5GWS3UH8fU
      • Thank you for making my point
        Caesar . . . really? You want to justify Indiana politicos poor stewardship of tax funds by saying surrounding states are worse off? Reminds me of Dem's who defend Obama by saying Bush did the same thing. Do two or more wrongs really make a right. Furthermore, police, schools, and other public services are in a shambles in Indianapolis yet we have money to toss at the Simons, Irseys, soccer and cricket stadiums. Do we have to become another Detroit before you say enough is enough. Thank you for helping me make my point about Boobus Indianus.
        • Or maybe
          Or maybe, JP, I just do not agree with the point of view of Arrogantus Indianus. But thanks for insulting me nonetheless. I couldn't possibly be as smart as you and have valid reasons for my point of view. I guess we should just change to a plutarchy so those who know better can lead us along the right path.
        • Actually I think Motown references help my own...
          Oh JP, It is precisely Indiana's fiscal stewardship which is PROTECTING our state from a Detroit or Illinois-style defined benefit meltdown. Is IMPD in shambles because a small percentage of tax revenue on restaurants or hotels is diverted to pay for sporting venues (which very arguably have a economic multiplier effect for multiple jobs and in the metro area?) Or is IMPD in poor shape because of a lack of effective management and oversight? Just as Republicans who say "No new taxes ever, drown the government in a bathtub" are foolish, so to are the Democrats who believe that public services would be perfectly effective if only for that extra coinage in taxes. I'm fairly certain Lugar and Hudnut would continue to see the value in balancing the allocation of our hard-earned revenue to both public services and investment in civic ventures that benefit both the plebeians and patricians alike, and that provide economic benefit now and tomorrow.
        • A slight pause
          Writing this from India, where I've had the privilege to live for the past two years. You might be interested, JPFinad, that this country is looking to our state for ideas on how to run government more effectively and efficiently. If you, my friend, have a problem with how our state or city is run, you can do more than gripe and complain on a forum such as this that has limited impact. Do something to make a change, or sit quietly. As for Irsay, we should all extend our sympathies to the man. He has stood by us and we should stand by him.
        • Right on
          Well said. Some like to compare Apples to Oranges and that ain't right

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        1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

        2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

        3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

        4. Send them back NOW.

        5. deport now

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