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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Still no lease deal done for 2010 Final Four

January 6, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

It’s less than three months until March Madness tips off, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association still doesn’t have a lease deal finalized with the city’s Capital Improvement Board to hold the 2010 Final Four in Lucas Oil Stadium April 3 and 5 as scheduled.

The CIB’s new president, Ann Lathrop, said the undone lease deal is “not creating too much alarm,” though she did say the issue would be top of mind when the CIB convenes Jan. 19.
 
In September, Butler President Bobby Fong told IBJ he was concerned that negotiations could become protracted due to CIB’s fiscal woes and its need to maximize revenue. Butler is playing the part of hosting school for the event.

Former CIB President Bob Grand insisted the hold-up with getting a lease deal signed has nothing to do with the CIB’s recent fiscal woes. Much of last year, the CIB struggled to deal with a $47 million budget shortfall.
 
Grand promised in September to get the deal done, saying, “I’m going to find the money to put the NCAA there.” I wonder if he’s still looking. I doubt it, since Grand is no longer a CIB member.
 
Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president of basketball and business strategies, said the deal needs tweaking because Lucas Oil Stadium was in the conceptual stages when Indianapolis won the bid to host the 2010 Final Four. The Final Four was last held in Indianapolis—in the RCA Dome—in 2006.

Shaheen said details regarding the placement of ancillary events—usually held in the Indiana Convention Center—are also being worked out.

Negotiations may be slowed by the transition of the CIB. Late last year, Mayor Greg Ballard announced an overhaul of the CIB, which owns Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field and the Indiana Convention Center.
 
The mayor replaced four of his six appointees on the nine-person CIB, including Grand. Long-time member Pat Early also is gone. In all, the CIB will have six new members at its next meeting.

Lathrop, an executive with Oak Brook Ill.-based public accounting firm Crowe Horwath LLP, had previously served as CIB’s treasurer. Her prior career included a stint as Indianapolis city controller under Republican Mayor Steve Goldsmith.
 
As treasurer, Lathrop was a key figure in helping the CIB dig out of its financial hole, but she said she had little dealings with the NCAA-LOS lease deal.

“I’m still getting my arms around that,” Lathrop said. “It’s safe to say, when we meet, that will be something that’s on the front burner.”

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