Sen. Luke Kenley’s CIB bailout plan counts on the Indianapolis Colts to keep up their sellout streak, and assumes the Indiana
Pacers and Indianapolis Indians will maintain at least their current popularity.
Over time, their box scores will make or break CIB.
Kenley’s plan would increase Marion County’s Admissions Tax on tickets to sporting events in CIB
facilities and the Indiana Convention Center from 6 percent to 10 percent. He said the tax hike would
generate $6 million annually for the cash-strapped municipal corporation.
That may be true eventually, especially as the tax begins to apply to ticketed events in the expanded
convention center. But according to the Legislative Services Agency, the Admissions Tax hike would bring
in just $4.3 million in new revenue during the fiscal year ending in June 2010, with $100,000 increases
in each of the following two years.
LSA built its projections off sports attendance figures during each team’s last full season. The
Colts have sold out 81 straight home games, dating back to the last game of the 1998 season. That includes
last year’s eight regular season games and two preseason games at the 70,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium.
This year, the team has reported that season-ticket renewals are running at 95 percent, with a 24,000-deep
expect the Colts to continue their sellouts for at least the next few years. But if they don’t down the road—say,
in the years after quarterback Peyton Manning retires—revenue to CIB would fall.
During their 2007-2008 season, the Pacers averaged an NBA-low 12,221 fans per game for 41 regular-season
home games. With deeply discounted ticket prices, the basketball team has improved attendance to 14,010
per game through 37 games this season, the 28th-lowest attendance of the NBA’s 30 teams.
With a mediocre draft expected and little player
salary cap room available to make significant changes to the team via free agency, improving Pacers’
attendance next season will be a challenge, observers say. But if the Pacers eventually become an elite
team, as they were in the ’90s, CIB would get an Admissions Tax windfall.
As for the Indians, win or lose, their attendance has increased every year since 2003.
During the 2007-2008 season, the baseball team
drew 8,538 fans per game, and during a stretch of 38 games after June 19, that average topped 10,000.
If the economy continues to stagger, sports
marketers think fans will gravitate to relatively inexpensive entertainment options, which could push
the Indians’ attendance higher this season—which benefits CIB.