EDITORIAL: Sports venues catch a break

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

It’s been a good month for the city’s old sports venues—some of which, in a relatively short time, went from being the darlings of the city’s amateur sports movement to easy targets for the wrecking ball.

One such example is the Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium on the campus of IUPUI. As Anthony Schoettle reported July 19 on IBJ.com, the university has scrapped plans to demolish the venue—built in 1982—and is instead spending more than $1.2 million to upgrade it.

The facility, which has hosted numerous Olympic trials, will lose some seating capacity in the process, but it will survive as a home for IUPUI’s new track and field teams and could host other amateur events.

Meanwhile, Bush Stadium—at least its façade—also is being spared the wrecking ball. The 80-year-old stadium, abandoned after Victory Field opened downtown in 1996, will be incorporated into an apartment development planned by John Watson, a local developer known for urban apartment projects. Watson intends to build 268 units behind the stadium’s façade at a cost of $23 million. He even intends to keep a baseball diamond there for residents.

Bush Stadium preceded the city’s amateur sports movement by many decades, and its preservation is more a nod to its history than a benefit to the city’s sports economy, but it nevertheless will remain part of the city landscape.

The same can’t be said for the Indianapolis Sports Center, the 1979 tennis center built to host some of the game’s biggest names. It was demolished last year to make way for an IUPUI parking garage and future development. The destruction of the tennis center removed what was, not long ago, one of the city’s most celebrated sports assets.

Hanging in the balance is the Indiana/World Figure Skating Academy ice rinks at Pan American Plaza. The rinks are slated to be removed to make way for development, robbing downtown of a unique venue that draws a steady national and international clientele. IBJ sports columnist Bill Benner tells what’s at stake in his column this week.

The rinks should be saved or recreated at another downtown site.

TIF districts get a checkup

Controversy always simmers just beneath the surface when the city uses tax increment financing as a tool to jump-start economic development projects. Recently, the criticism of TIF has grown louder as the cash-strapped city struggles to fund basic services, such as libraries.

We’re glad the city is responding to its financial circumstances—and the critics—by taking a fresh look at TIF districts and how they’re administered.

A TIF district captures new property tax revenue generated by developments within the district and uses that money to support the developments. As reporter Francesca Jarosz details this week, the city is embarking on a TIF review aimed at channeling more money back to the city’s general fund and setting up rules dictating how TIF is used in the future.

While we’ve been generally supportive of the use of TIF, some of the districts are capturing far more money than they need. And the rules for their use need to be tightened, a process playing out in cities across the country.

We hope the city is successful in diverting more money to basic services, while preserving a TIF structure that is both effective and transparent.•


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