The city’s Capital Improvement Board on Monday afternoon unanimously approved a $160 million, 10-year finance package to the Indiana Pacers for the operations of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The 8-0 vote came after City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, sought assurances from CIB President Ann Lathrop, who was wearing a Pacers sweatshirt, that the deal would create no new taxes or tax increases.
“I’m not going to tell you that it’s not going to get tight at times,” said Lathrop, referring to the CIB’s budget during the term of the Pacers deal. “But there are no new taxes planned.”
Lathrop went on to promise that as long as she was CIB president, there'd be no new or increased taxes to pay for this deal. Lathrop made a similar promise last Friday, a day after the deal first became public.
A handful of Pacers executives attended Monday’s meeting and shared hugs and hand shakes in the back of the room after the unanimous vote was tallied.
“Thank you for this vote of confidence,” said Pacers President Jim Morris. “I promise you we will go to the end of the earth to operate this facility for the good of central Indiana. We will always put the concerns of the community first.”
Morris emphasized that Pacers owner Herb Simon isn’t seeking this deal for profit. He also lauded the city’s public-private partnerships in growing downtown.
“I worked with Mel and Herb [Simon] when they bought the team, and they care deeply about the community,” Morris told the CIB Monday after the vote. “This is not about money. It’s about how we as a community do extraordinary things.”
Shopping mall magnates Mel and Herb Simon bought the team in 1983, rescuing it from financial ruin. When Mel died in 2009, Herb bought out his interest and is now the sole owner.