We were a little surprised this morning that a story showing the city at the top of one classification was way back on page C2. (That’s the sports section, in case you’re wondering.)
The article concerned the percentage of cost of professional sports facilities borne by taxpayers in various cities, and we’re told Lucas Oil Stadium rates right up there with the highest in the country. And we’re also told that this refers only to construction cost.
The author - an associate professor of urban planning at Harvard - has worked out an average figure of 78 percent for government cost, and 22 percent for the team. We’re blessed that here in Indy, the "negotiating team" worked out a deal where the Colts put in just about 7 percent with government picking up the rest of the tab.
In referring to these high-end arenas, the article further points out that, "...the public share of the costs, once ongoing expenses are included, exceeds 100 percent of the building’s original price tag."
There is a brief reference to the advantage taken by the sports team through the use of "opaque finances." That is the nice way of saying what the teams say to the city - "Don’t ask. We ain’t gonna’ tell. Just write the check!"
Also interesting is the conclusion that "The total cost of sports facilities has received little attention from researchers in part ‘because most economic analyses demonstrate that sports facilities produce very few or no net new economic benefits relative to construction costs...’." (Our emphasis.)
We’re stuck with the stadium - and the fieldhouse. Much to our regret. But is it really impossible to re-do the tenants’ contracts? It would really be a shame to bankrupt the CIB by expecting such a fragile financial organization to throw a couple of bucks into necessary municipal functions. Even if they are specifically functions heavily used by those tenants.
When a golfer goes out for a round of golf, the taxpayer is not forced to shell out part of the greens fees. Why should the golfer be forced to pay part of the cost for a football/basketball ticket? If the cost of a loaf of bread is $1.50, we don’t expect the person in line behind us at the checkout counter to throw in the 50 cents. The user pays what ever the full cost is.
Just put the increase needed for the public safety budget in the cost of the entertainment ticket, where it belongs.