Fiscal analysis: Soccer venue ticket tax would generate meager revenue

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The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday morning was scheduled to consider a bill that would help finance a new, $82 million soccer stadium to be publicly owned and used by the Indy Eleven.

The stadium bill, authored by Republican Rep. Todd Huston of Fishers, would allow the Marion County Professional Sports Development Area to expand to include the site of a multipurpose stadium. A maximum of an additional $5 million in annual state tax revenue could be captured every year for 30 years from that added area.

UPDATE: The committee approved a revised version of the bill that includes new details on the team's financing plan. Read our story.

Bonds would be issued to pay for the stadium, and the state taxes would go toward the bond payments.

However, the state revenue capture would be reduced by ticket taxes from the venue, which analysts with the Legislative Services Agency estimate could range from $223,000 to $519,000 a year. The admissions tax currently is 10 percent, so generating $519,000 would require $5.19 million in ticket sales.

The LSA's estimates differ wildly from Indy Eleven’s claims. On its website, the team emphasizes that “if you don’t go—you won’t pay” any of the stadium costs. That won’t be true, however, unless ticket taxes alone are sufficient to meet debt payments.

If the Indy Eleven stadium were to require $5 million in annual debt payments, ticket sales from the venue would need to total $50 million to make the full payment.

By comparison, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field together generated $14.2 million in admission tax revenue in the last fiscal year, the LSA said in a fiscal note on House Bill 1273. The admission tax does not apply to events sponsored by educational, not-for-profit and religious organizations, including the NCAA.

The admissions tax is set to drop to 6 percent by March 2023, but the bill would allow Marion County to extend the 10-percent tax rate until 2046.

The LSA assumes the stadium would seat 12,000 and hold at least two events other than professional soccer. On its website promoting the stadium effort, however, Indy Eleven says it would build an 18,500-seat stadium, and it would host 50 non-soccer events.

In 2014, its first season, the Indy Eleven was the runaway attendance leader in the 10-team North American Soccer League, selling an average of 10,465 tickets for each of its 14 home games.

Team officials say those games represented sellouts at IUPUI’s track and soccer stadium. They say the team would draw more fans to a new and more centrally located stadium with better concession stands, bathrooms and other amenities.

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