Indianapolis city leaders will seek approval to chip in $9.5 million toward nearly $20 million in renovations needed to renovate IUPUI’s Natatorium, a mayoral aide confirmed to The Indianapolis Star.What's next? Should we taxpayerspay to upgrade Hinkle Fieldhouse? What about the University of Indianapolis' football field?
Indiana University still is working out plans to pick up the rest of the tab. As part of the developing arrangement, IU would shift management of the 31-year-old swimming facility to a partnership of local sports organizations, said Ryan Vaughn, chief of staff to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. And a portion of city hospitality taxes would be set aside for future maintenance.
Vaughn has been consulting with City-County Council leaders, including President Maggie Lewis, about the Ballard-backed proposal to finance the city’s $9.5 million contribution. Those talks are still under way, he said.
As Vaughn outlined it, the city would issue bonds and repay them by tapping Downtown Indianapolis economic development funds that draw from a tax-increment financing district. That would need council approval, which Vaughn hopes to secure in January.
The Natatorium is the largest permanent aquatics venue in the United States with a seating capacity of 4,700, attracting national events regularly. On Tuesday, the facility was announced as host of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in diving.
But the facility has had ventilation problems in recent years, and IU officials say other systems and parts of the building are simply wearing out.
The city has a stake in keeping the aging facility top-notch, Vaughn said, because of the events and visitors it draws from out of state.
Vaughn says the city should get involved. He said the Natatorium was as important to the sport of swimming as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was to auto racing.
“It’s part of our core sports economy here in Indianapolis,” Vaughn said. “That is a huge driver for us. (The building) needs a refresh. And it very much is a community asset.”
Undoubtedly we will be given "studies" that show the Natatorium brings in millions dollars to the local economy and this will be worth our "investment." Yeah, right. It's funny how the Ballard administration can always find money for questionable "economic development" projects but when it comes to basic city services, like law enforcement, his answer is always raising taxes.