Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts: Arrogance Unparalleled

Do the Colts have any clue that the team's email to season ticket holders today probably just killed any chance of a bailout? Is Jim Irsay really that clueless?

When I read it I was stunned. I knew Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts had an arrogant streak, but never in my wildest imagination did I expect the team capable of issuing such a loathsome communication the team had to know would be picked up by media outlets. We taxpayers turned the Colts' franchise from one of the poorest in the league to one of the wealthiest. In return, this email shows the organization has nothing but unrelenting contempt toward Hoosiers, and their own fans. who the team apparently thinks are a bunch of idiots.

We won't even get into the lies about the Colts supposed $100 million contribution and the team not asking for a larger stadium. Oh, and yes, and let's not talk about how the Colts' organization makes such a great contribution to our community. I especially appreciate the fact after Hoosiers lost millions of dollars in last year's floods and the tornado, the Colts stepped forward and gave a whole $50,000, assuming, of course, the public matched their generous contribution.

The Capital Improvement Board is like the annoying, nerdy kid in school who got on your nerves. Then when you see the big class jock (the Colts) picking on the helpless kid, you want to go beat the stuffing out of the jock. The Colts showed zero appreciation for the State of Indiana or the CIB for sticking it to taxpayers in order to give Colts the sweetest of sweetheart deals. The CIB stuck their neck out for the Colts and Pacers again, and what appreciation have the teams shown? The Pacers claimed they had nothing to do with the additional $15 million the CIB has included in its budget for operation costs and now the Colts do this FU press release.

So the Colts don't think the Lucas Oil Stadium contract can be "renegotiated?" Really? You don't say. The legislature next week needs to take HB 1604, strip out the CIB bailout, and instead insert language authorizing the CIB to file bankruptcy. Then let's see if the Colts does not want to rethink the team's position on renegotiation before a bankruptcy judge latches onto the contract. At the end of the day, Jim Irsay will have wished he took the deal that only cost his team $5 million.

Here is the email sent to Colts' season ticket holders:

Dear Colts Fans:

Much has been reported and communicated about the Colts over the past several months, including several statements which have been either misleading or simply untrue. We would like to set the record straight by sharing with you facts of the Colts’ financial contributions to the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis and the club’s significant investment in the building and on-going operation of Lucas Oil Stadium.

First and foremost, the Indianapolis Colts have not sought in the past, nor is the club currently seeking, any special favors from the CIB, the City of Indianapolis, or the State of Indiana. The Colts never asked for a new stadium. In 2004, the City of Indianapolis approached the Colts about the possibility of a new stadium, not the other way around. The City’s need for an expanded convention center and desire to accommodate the NCAA for future Final Fours prompted its exploration of a facility to replace the RCA Dome. At no time did the Colts threaten to leave Indianapolis or otherwise “hold the city hostage.”

The Colts negotiated in good faith with the State and the City and eventually entered into a development agreement with the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority (ISCBA), governing the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, and a lease with the CIB, governing the Colts’ use of the stadium.

The Colts made a 30-year commitment to the community. Those written agreements, signed nearly four years ago, committed the team to this community for the next 30 years with no option to renegotiate, regardless of any financial downturns that might arise.

The Colts agreed to take the risk and responsibility to achieve financial success in Indianapolis. The new agreements also removed the financial guarantees for the Colts that existed in our RCA Dome lease that could have cost the city tens of millions of dollars on a regular basis. In essence, the risk of financial success in a small market has been shifted from the city solely to the Colts.

The Colts have been meticulous in meeting and, indeed, often exceeding the requirements of those agreements. We have contributed over $100 Million to the construction of the facility and it is simply untrue for anyone to suggest we don’t have “skin in the game.”

It is also important to note that, from the very beginning, Lucas Oil Stadium was designed to be a multi-use facility to accommodate many users, not just the Colts. Already, the stadium has successfully hosted many events having nothing whatsoever to do with professional football and many more are already scheduled for years to come. While we are immensely proud to be able to call Lucas Oil Stadium our home field, the fact of the matter is the Colts only use the stadium a maximum of nineteen days a year; and the facility is available for use by virtually anyone else the remaining 346 days.

Second, the Colts have been engaged in extensive dialogue, based upon facts and equity, with those leaders who are working hard to find a solution to the CIB funding shortfall. Jim Irsay has personally met with Senator Luke Kenley and Mayor Greg Ballard to discuss these matters. Our representatives have also been in frank, open, and continuing communication with the CIB and the financial leaders of the state legislature since this issue began to emerge early last winter.

Third, our understanding of the CIB’s history is that the CIB’s budget shortfall is neither new nor unexpected. In fact, only a relatively small portion of the predicted shortfall can be directly attributed to the increase in actual maintenance and operations expense required by Lucas Oil Stadium. What is particularly puzzling is that the shortfall appears to have only become a crisis when the CIB concluded it might be obliged to assume all the operating costs of Conseco Fieldhouse to avoid an early termination of the Pacers' lease.

Fourth, the Colts believe recent criticism of its civic involvement to be unwarranted and unfair. We are extremely proud to have one of professional sports’ most comprehensive community outreach programs. While we are deeply involved statewide, we have not predicated charitable giving and civic involvement upon how much public acclaim the club gets in return. The Colts remain committed to that approach.

Fifth, the Colts’ commitment to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana has also included providing an exemplary football team on and off the field. The club has invested heavily in recruiting players and coaches of which Indianapolis and the State of Indiana can be proud -- on game days and all the other days they make positive contributions to our communities. There are no more positive role models than Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, and Jeff Saturday. We believe the Colts’ record in wins as well as community leadership speaks for itself. In anticipation of this weekend’s NFL Draft, the Colts are preparing to make multi-year and multi-million dollar commitments to the next generation of leaders like those three.

The Colts remain optimistic that a fair and equitable solution will be found that assures the fiscal good health of the CIB, an organization that is very important to the long-term success of Indianapolis and the entire State of Indiana. We hope, though, that the public discussions of the issues will be based upon facts.


The Indianapolis Colts


jabberdoodle said...

At the end of the day, the NFL, the NBA, MLB, and whatever the hockey pros are, are all entertainment businesses who have excelled at making cities vie for their affection with huge sums of tax dollars.

On a smaller scale is the business-as-usual approach to getting tax abatements by pitting one county against another.

Our elected officials aren't thinking and planning straight. Instead of giving in to the blackmail, create new leagues that can be owned by the City, and craft non-compete agreements between counties.

But, tax money is found money. Pay forward taxing schemes like abatements and TIFs work to some extent, and are never analyzed for overall success.

But, I digress from the business that is the Colts. Irsay may have given you what you have argued for, the CIB bankruptcy.

This whole thing is like going down the rabbit hole with Alice.

Patriot Paul said...

"arrogance" is really not important. It comes as a 'given' within the sports industry and any city negotiating with them is naive not to know that. I hold no sympathy for nor against the Colts. Maybe the incompetent CIB will learn some day not to engage in businesses using citizens' pocketbooks as collateral, but I doubt it in my lifetime.

Jon said...

Wow, what unmitigated gall from Mr. Irsay. My favorite part of this disingenuous piece of tripe is the statement is' "The Colts remain optimistic that a fair and equitable solution will be found that assures the good health of the CIB," Two comments about that;1)it is too late to be fair to the taxpayers or the CIB and 2)is he getting worried about a possible bankruptcy of the CIB? H

Downtown Indy said...

Given the current deal, I suppose 'fair and equitable' would be to give him the rest of the revenue that he's not already getting.

It's absurb to hear the talk of 'taking risk' when the franchise has exploded in value from $15M to $715M or more , depending on who you talk to. Risk? I'll take risk like THAT any day!