A very well researched and written front page article in the IBJ this week lays out information concerning the problem, and the promoter, of a publicly built soccer stadium. We congratulate the author, Mr. Cory Schouten.
Among other things, the article convinces us of our long-held theory that there are very competent reporters available locally. What we need to do - at least up until now - is find a way to get management to turn them loose on the local official misfeasance (malfeasance??) seeming to prevail in Indianapolis.
A legislative proposal supporting public funds for this soccer boondoggle has been stalled this session. Legislators are saying that the idea may be appropriate but needs more study. We have a slightly different suggestion.
We propose a formal study committee composed of behavioral specialists, psychiatrists and psychologists. Such a committee would be charged with finding out why political - and business - leaders of the city continue to believe that one more taxpayer subsidized sports palace would be the final and direly needed piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
It will, once and for all they say, really, finally make the city World Class. Sports fans will come from the ends of the earth (just as tourists would come from far lands to see Union Station). And even more importantly, this would be the "investment" which would draw wealthy residents - also from the ends of the earth, and maybe even from Hamilton County - thereby solving the perennial budget problems of the city.
In one form or another, these theories had their beginnings forty years ago, starting in 1974 with the city building Market Square Arena for the benefit of the local basketball team, the first shameful submission to sports blackmail.
This philosophy would continue, and we would accelerate the practice of general corporate welfare - along with sports - through fiscal policies of subsidy, tax abatement, TIF usage and outright gifts. All with the support of business organizations and a media which, on many days, looks like a subsidiary of Sports Illustrated or ESPN-TV.
We have managed, in the face of all the downtown activity, to wind up with well over a billion dollars worth of real estate coming to life without appearing on the property tax assessment rolls at all.
Now, four decades later, and following the "investment" of billions of dollars, public and private, we have a municipality unable to fund appropriately very basic municipal services.
Yes. It is time for a truly objective study. But it should be of official financial policies of the City of Indianapolis, and equally important, inquiry as to how, where, when and by whom they are implemented.