Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Early-Tully Fued Over the Pacers Future

This morning's Indianapolis Star features a "My View" editorial written by Patrick J. Early, vice president of the Capital Improvement Board.

In the editorial Early challenges Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully's criticism of the Capital Improvement Board discussions regarding giving the Pacers $15 million more per year by assuming the annual operating costs for Conseco Fieldhouse. Early talks about the economic impact of conventions and sporting events to the city and notes that the Pacers can't continue losing $30 million dollars a year on the team. He notes that the City would have to pick up the costs of the building if the Pacers left anyway.

While Tully gets a lot of things wrong, he isn't wrong in this dispute. There are a number of things wrong with Early's analysis of the situation. First, why is the CIB simply accepting the Pacers claim they are losing $30 million a year without requiring them to undergo an outside, independent audit? The fact is the Pacers refuse to submit to such an audit and simply want the public to accept their estimates as true, no questions asked. Dutifully, the Pacers do exactly that.

Second, Early talks about the $3 billion impact of sporting events and tourism to the city and state. That's very misleading as it lumps together two distinctly different things - the tourism industry which is profitable to local communities and professional sports which are a poor investment.

Third, Early talks about that if the Pacers leave Indianapolis will still have to pay for the operation of Conseco Fieldhouse. True, but what he fails to note is that the City would reap money off events held at the facility, money that currently goes to the Pacers.

Apparently the decision to give the Pacers $15 million more per year was already made behind closed doors and the public meetings now being held are nothing more than a dog and pony show to convince the public to give more of their tax dollars to the Simon billionaires. Who begins negotiations by announcing the bottom line, what the CIB will agree to do for the Pacers? It is exactly that kind of approach to negotiating that led to the atrociously one-sided CIB-Colts Lucas Oil Stadium deal.

On this one, Tully has it right.

See also: The Pacers, Colts and the Impact of Professional Sports on Local Economies (3/15/2009)


Citizen Kane said...

I don't necessarily take it as a given that the tourism industry is profitable, when it is a low-wage industry subsidized by default by the same Ponzi scheme as the sports teams.

Downtown Indy said...

Why is it the Simons think that they can't continue to lose $15-30M a year, but that we taxpayers CAN?

Jon said...

The problem with the Simons and the Pacers is directly related to the fact that the CIB gave Irsay everything and now the Simons want similar treatment. What should happen is that we should reopen the Colt's deal because it is far too advantageous for the Colt's and disadvantageous to the taxpayers.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Well that would be the smart thing to do. Unfortunately we don't often do the smart thing in this city when it comes to negotiating with sports teams.