Indianapolis Colts, city reach deal on new luxury suites

The city's agency for operating major downtown sports venues will shoulder up to $2 million of the cost for new luxury suites and related improvements at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Members of the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County voted 6-1 Monday afternoon to approve an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts that would add two new upper-level luxury suites and convert two food pantries into cooking kitchens.

The CIB, which owns the facility, will pay for the first $2 million in costs. That's expected to cover most if not all of the project. The Colts would pay any overages.

The lone vote of dissent on the nine-member board belonged to City-County Council President Maggie Lewis. There was one abstention and one absence.

"It's not against the Colts; I just needed more details," Lewis said.

The project is not expected to be complete until November, according to CIB officials. Lucas Oil Stadium currently has 140 suites.

At Monday's meeting, the CIB also approved the Colts' plan for two new digital "ribbon boards" in the stadium for advertising and other promotional uses. The Colts will cover the entire cost of the boards.

The suites expansion is part of a wider agreement related to the long-standing dispute over concession costs between the Colts and CIB. The deal approved Monday provides a formula to differentiate between expenses for preparation and sale of concessions during Colts and non-Colts events.

The Colts have agreed, in accordance with the new expense payment formula, to pay the CIB $70,000 to cover concession expenses from 2008 through the end of 2012.

The agreement also states that the CIB will exercise its right to extend its concession deal with Connecticut-based Centerplate Inc. to June 1, 2023, unless the Colts and CIB mutually agree otherwise.

The two sides also bridged a rift related to a recent increase in admissions taxes.

In January, the City-County Council approved increases to admissions taxes for events in major downtown sport venues, including Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts opposed the changes, which would raise the admissions tax from 6 percent to 10 percent. The Council also approved a hike in the county tax for rental cars.

The tax hikes are projected to generate $6.7 million for the city’s general fund this year. In the future, most of the money will flow to the CIB, which also owns and operates Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center. The board's budget relies primarily on hospitality taxes.

Board officials have said they need the extra revenue to cover future operating expenses, including building maintenance and upgrades.

As part of  the agreement Monday with the CIB, the Colts committed to collecting the admissions tax.

This story will be updated.

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