Fishers proposes food and beverage tax to fund $170M arena for Indy Fuel

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Fishers officials are proposing to use a 1% food and beverage tax to help fund a new $170 million event center that would be home to the Indy Fuel minor league hockey team.

The plan was introduced Monday night at the Fishers City Council meeting.

The 8,500-seat event center is part of a larger $650 million expansion plan for Fishers District. The development is planned east of Interstate 69 between East 106th and East 116th streets and southeast of Ikea.

The Fuel, an affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, could begin playing games at the event center as soon as the 2024-25 season if plans come to fruition. The event center would hold 6,500 fans for Fuel and basketball games and about 8,000 to 8,500 people for concerts and other entertainment events.

Fishers would own the arena and issue 40-year bonds to pay for the facility.

The city would make annual debt payments of $9.7 million that would be paid from four different sources: the city’s cumulative capital development fund ($3.5 million), the food and beverage tax ($3 million), operational revenue ($1.7 million) and a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, fund ($1.5 million).

The new tax would apply to all food and beverage purchases in Fishers restaurants and raise the sales tax in restaurants from 8% to 9%. Fishers Deputy Mayor Elliott Hultgren noted that Hamilton County cities Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield, and Zionsville in Boone County, also have food and beverage taxes.

“One of our goals early on was to ensure we do not raise property taxes to fund this project,” Hultgren said.

The Fishers City Council will hold a public hearing on the food and beverage tax on Oct. 6. The council will vote on the tax on Oct. 10. The tax would take effect Dec. 1 if it is approved.

Indianapolis-based Thompson Thrift Development LLC is the master developer of Fishers District. The expansion project is expected to also include new retail, restaurant, entertainment and residential options.

Along with the Fuel, the event center would host sporting, theatrical and entertainment events.

Fishers District expansion plans also include:

  • Slate at Fishers District, a previously announced $63 million multifamily and garden home community;
  • The Union, which is expected to include about 250 luxury apartments, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 150 hotel rooms and up to 80,000 square feet of Class A office space;
  • and The Commons, which would feature the event center and dining, retail and entertainment options.

The city council on Monday also unanimously approved plans for Andretti Autosport’s $200 million headquarters and an updated proposal by Italy-based Stevanato Group.

Andretti Autosport envisions a 575,000-square-foot facility on 90 acres on the southeast quadrant of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport near East 96th Street and Hague Road. The land is near the Nickel Plate Trail and Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve.

Stevanato Group originally announced plans in June 2021 to spend $145 million to build a 370,000-square-foot facility in Fishers, creating 250 high-wage jobs by the end of 2025.

Fishers announced last week that Stevanato Group approached the city with a proposal to increase its investment in the facility to $512 million and its hiring plan to 515 employees by 2031.

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21 thoughts on “Fishers proposes food and beverage tax to fund $170M arena for Indy Fuel

    1. We are both in total agreement.
      Scott and clan should not be allowed to “develop” anymore so called projects until it can be demonstrated that the project will benefit the city in at least 10years… Net present value…population tax base increased…new businesses attracted…gross sales receipts..etc…
      I will also say your statement “the facility will not last the length of the bond” is exactly what my wife and I thought when we heard the news. Not that I”m against the development — just that the developers need to be cut off from city “assistance” when the project CAN”T be proven to be completed on its own power and on time.

    2. You would think that will all the businesses that Fishers “leadership” has brought to town that are going to be “bringing money” that the tax rate would be near zero for residents at this point…… #Sarcasm

    3. I would tend to agree. We’d like to think that an event center/arena like this would last more than 40 years, but honestly it’s impossible to know if it will. If the Fuel owners are going to manage the venue, how much money are they putting in to fund this? I like that the city controls it but the Fuel need to put some skin in the game too.

    4. How? It will be an amazing amenity for the city. The restaurant will benefit having 8500 people a couple times a month.

  1. Isn’t it interesting how deep our governments keep getting into our pockets? Isn’t it enough that taxpayers have to pay for the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL stadiums, etc. but now we have to pay for their affiliates? Just add a tax here, add a tax there. No problem. If the Chicago Blackhawks want a new stadium built for one of their affiliates, the Indy Fuel, then build it…spend your money…you are the billionaires! If I was to take money out of your pocket, I would be stealing from you and would be arrested. But, if our government takes money out of your pocket, it is called a tax. At what point in time are we going to STOP tolerating this BS.

    1. Vince….You are 100% correct about professional leagues like the NFL, NBA, and MLB. All these leagues are entertainment cartels that extort money out of poor people and cities. At least Bob Craft owner of the Patriots owns his own stadium…Watch what happens in Chicago to the Bears…

    1. To be fair, this was a whole different sort of project. There are similar elements, but it’s not the same.

  2. Large(r) cities such as Indianapolis competed for major sports teams and of course give them a deal. So to post-implementation economic studies prove that public financial and other benefits to these private teams truly result in financial and meaningful employment benefits to cities?

    Indeed these teams provide entertainment at high costs. And subsidization of these private endeavors cannot be disputed. Again, one asks if the benefits are indeed worth the public investment.

    Is the cachet of having a major sports team really worth the cost. This question continues to resound.

    Large stadium cost often exceeds $1 billion. And cities nationwide have contributed directly and indirectly. Yet, proposals for a comparable amount, or much less, to improve roadways, bridges, schools and other critical infrastructure seems to meet much greater scrutiny and often remains un- or underfunded. Communities, or their representatives, make the choices. But should some choices require a voter response.

    1. …for a venue that where team owners will be demanding major upgrades in 15-20 years because it’s “obsolete”.

      Just like Bankers Life and RCA Dome…

  3. Hey my fellow Hoosiers, I hear you LOUD and clear on the subject at hand but we must understand something and get this clear. Central Indiana is spending HUGE amounts of money on major projects around the entire metro to attract talent and to retain homegrown talent from leaving the state. We have to remember that Indy has to do whatever it takes to get someone from sunny California or Texas to want to relocate to what’s known as flyover country. Talent and tech companies look for amenities as those being built in Fishers and Carmel to attract people here. I understand the concerns about taxes, bonds and who’s going to pay for it ect ect, but the reality is, Indy’s metro has no choice if its going to stay competitive and that’s just the facts. So we might as well embrace it, cause its clearly here to stay. Economic growth is crucial in also attracting tech companies to relocate here. Just being a cheap place to live alone isn’t enough. The younger generation wants live, work and play communities with loads of amenities. Welcome to the BIG leagues Indy.

    1. Chris B – agreed. Minor League hockey doesn’t warrant the type of economic stimulus to justify said tax.