Big Ten coup much bigger score for Colts than Pacers

Nobody has more reason to smile about Indianapolis winning the bid to host the Big Ten Football Championship than Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Indianapolis’ victory to host the game for the next five years means Irsay’s Colts will reap $10 million to $15 million over the period—2011 to 2015—while making little if any capital outlay to make it happen. That’s because the Colts lease with the city’s Capital Improvement Board stipulates the Colts get half of all revenue from non-Colts related events while the city picks up the tab for operations.

The $10 million to $15 million could be conservative. Lucas Oil Stadium holds 63,000 but is expandable to 70,000. If the game puts 63,000-plus fans in the seats—which most football followers believe it will—that will generate more than $3 million in ticket revenue alone. Add the Colts’ share of $1.5 million in ticket sales to the concessions, parking and other ancillary revenue, and the Colts’ total annual take easily eclipses $2 million.

The annual city-wide economic impact of the game is estimated at $20 million. The Colts should net more than 10 percent of that.

And it’s an unforeseen revenue stream for the Colts. When the stadium opened in 2008, there was little discussion of even having a Big Ten Football championship, let along Indianapolis hosting such an event.

The Indiana Pacers have reason to smile too—just not as broadly as the Colts. In addition to voting to bring the football championship to Indianapolis, Big Ten officials on Sunday voted to award Indianapolis the men’s and women’s Big Ten basketball championship in 2014 and 2016. The city already has the hoops tournaments secured for 2012.

But the annual haul for the Pacers is likely not nearly as lucrative as the football game is for the Colts. While the Pacers get to keep a higher percentage of revenue than the Colts, the Pacers also cover much of the expenses of running the Fieldhouse—during the tournament and throughout the year. And operating the Fieldhouse for a four-day event like the Big Ten hoops tournament can get pretty expensive.

The economic impact for the men’s basketball tournament is $8 million and $2 million for the women’s tournament. Those numbers indicate how much smaller the revenue stream will be for Conseco Fieldhouse compared to Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Pacers will make a seven-figure score, no doubt, but its share will only equal a fraction of what the Colts haul in.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.