It's a couple of weeks late, but the Indiana Pacers have obtained their boodle: The city of Indianapolis has agreed to pay the Pacers $10 million a year for the next three years (plus $3.5 million for a new ribbon ad board, among other things) to play at Conseco Fieldhouse, the taxpayer-funded arena that the team plays at rent-free and keeps all revenues from. That's less than the full $15 million in annual operating costs — the Pacers' only arena-related expense — that the team owners said they wanted the city to cover, but not a whole heck of a lot less, especially considering that the Pacers' lease isn't actually up yet.The plan touted by the City back then was to pay the Pacers $10 million annually for the purpose of keeping the team in town for the next three seasons, which seasons would be 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2012-2013. (As I pointed out previously, the threat to move was always bogus considering the hefty penalties in the contract for the Pacers exercising the early termination provision.) Yet when the issue came up this year in relationship to the possible cancelled season, the discussion was about whether the City needed to pay the third installment of the $30 million subsidy that was being considered in the next budget. (See WRTV's Norman Cox's recent story on the subject. The Indianapolis Star also reported it was the third installment.)
How did the Pacers get to the third installment of the annual subsidy in this, the second year of the deal? I think the City might have paid the Pacers $20 million last year, including $10 million retroactively to cover the 2009-2010 season that was over at the time the deal was announced by the City. There would be of course no reason to pay the Pacers a subsidy for a year already gone by.
It's ironic to note too that the Pacers asked for $15 million per year. Part of the "compromise" was for the City to give the Pacers "only" $10 million annually. But instead of being spread out over three years, the $30 million is spread out over 2 years, thus making it exactly the $15 million annual subsidy the Pacers had demanded.
If it turns out that $10 million of the subsidy was paid retroactively and we are thus on our third year, the "bridge deal" will end next year, a year earlier than promised. After the election, expect the Pacers to come hat in hand wanting another multi-million dollar subsidy from the City.