Sunday, June 6, 2010

Star Editorial Omits and Misrepresents Details in Pacers Contract, Begins PR Effort in Support of Pending "Layup" Pacer Deal

Just when I thought the Indianapolis Star was going to show some present the facts to people honestly and objectively, I'm treated to this morning's editorial where the editors say that a new Pacer deal could be win-win for both sides. If not, the Star warns, the Simons could move the team.

As someone who has studied the Pacers contract in detail, the Star omits or misrepresents several critical facts which if included in the editorial would have undermined the Star's support for more Pacer subsidies. These are:

  • The Star says this matter is being considered now, because the 20 year deal "allowed for adjustments at the 10 year mark." No, it does not. The 10 year mark is significant because it is the start of an Early Termination provision, which can only be exercised under certain conditions and with extremely large penalties.

  • The only way the Early Termination provision can be exercised is if: 1) the Pacers are losing money; 2) the Simons are selling the team; AND 3) the team is being relocated outside of Indianapolis. The Simons cannot simply pick up the team and move it as the Star editorial strongly implies. The Simons could only do that AFTER the 20 year contract is up.

  • The Star completely misses the significant penalty associated with the exercise of the Early Termination provision. The contract contains two penalty formulas for early termination, which decline every year. You use the penalty which renders the lowest penalty. In 2010, the penalty if the Simons sell the team out of state, would be $130 million. (In 2009, it was $142 million.)

  • Apparently some CIB types have been trying to convince reporters that the Pacers are allowed to offset losses against the penalty. That is an absolute lie. There is no right of the Pacers to offset penalties with losses in that contract.

  • The Star continues to ignore the almost unanimous academic studies which show that professional sports subsidies are not a good investment for local government.

  • The Star says city negotiators "represent the residents" of Indianapolis. Really? So even though probably 80% of residents are adamantly opposed to giving the Simons millions more of our tax dollars (a conservative estimate), even though the academic studies say it would be a bad investment, and even though the contract does not even require the City to be at the negotiating table, these "negotiators" represent us?
One has to wonder why the Star has become a cheerleader for yet more public subsidies in an era in which we have city swimming pools we can't afford to open on time, library branches are threatened with closure and we are cutting bus routes. While I don't think that the Star's own investment in Conseco Fieldhouse has influenced coverage and editorials on this issue, you have to wonder the reason for the Star ignoring and misrepresenting facts in this editorial.


Gary R. Welsh said...

On issue after issue, Paul, there is so much disinformation that is put out by the administration and regurgitated by the local media verbatim. It is simply impossible to point out all of the inaccuracies and discrepancies in reporting by the local media any more. Ballard is leading this City into complete financial ruin and the media is patting him on the back for doing a good job. It's like a bankruptcy attorney thanking his client for being such a poor money manager that he or she needed his services.

Downtown Indy said...

I find it curious that, time after time, the media does 'Special Investigative Reports' for rather piddly-ass things (not that they aren't real problems) but they never sink their teeth into something like detailing this contract.

Are they afraid, does it simply entail too much effort, or have they tried and been shut down?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually DI, I believe Francesca Jarasz did finally get around to detailing some of the facts about the contract in an article she wrote, including the huge penalty and that the Simons have to be selling the team...they can't just pick up the team and move. The Star's editors appeared to have deliberately ignored those facts in this editorial.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I liked what Gov. Pat Quinn did in Illinois. The legislature sent him a "reform" bill for McCormick Place that included a new tax on taxi fares to and from the airport and downtown, the proceeds of which would be used to increase spending to promote the convention business in Chicago by $10 million annually. Quinn amendatorily vetoed out the tax because he viewed it as punitive to visitors to the City. The Mayor, civic types, etc. are all going ape shit. He also wrote a new provision limiting the number of collective bargaining units to 2; there are now 5 unions operating at McCormick Place. That pissed off the unions that are losing out to the Teamsters and SEIU.

Citizen Kane said...

It is not just the Star editorials; it is those of the IBJ also. See this one in particular; it is absolute nonsense.

CarmelParisRome said...

Mayor Ballard and Indy are taking a lesson from Carmel's Mayor Jim Brainard. (Take a look at how each mayor uses project contractors to fund their campaign war-chests.)

Take a look at the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and the CIB....they are essential similar type entities...each spending tax payer dollars for over the top projects, each with promises of future benefits which cannot be substantiated.

The local media seems to be willing to turn a blind eye....or perhaps they just do not have the resources to conductor or know the meaning of investigative journalism...since their main idea of journalism today seems to be to publish the press releases of the various political entities.

Cashmiere said...

I too wonder where journalism has gone. Indiana has major leadership issues and our ship is sinking slow financial tax/ TIF death. Carmel, Indianapolis, Avon, Greenwood, Greenfield. As for Pacers IF we can't afford the players we got hire new ones! Paycuts are happening everywhere.