A front page story in the new IBJ carries this interesting headline. “Herb Simon: $160M deal helps heirs.” The sub-head says, “Exec says stability needed to keep Pacers in family.”
The fourth paragraph of the lengthy item, in part, tells us this about Mr. Simon’s statement. “...because his many children won’t have wealth on the same scale as he has amassed, his goal in negotiations was to ensure that they wound up with a deal that made the team viable in Indianapolis.”
The scale of wealth he is talking about is $2,200,000,000. In case one loses count of the zeros, that’s $2.2 Billion. And the value of the team itself is estimated at $475 million - several times its purchase price some years ago.
The balance of a full page of material is in the form of a Q & A session. In reference to the latest agreement with the CIB and Pacer loans, we see this: “Even though it is a Pacer loan, it could be an issue for my children-they are not worth as much as I am. The city has a lot of means [to help refinance the debt] where the kids can still continue [and not have to sell off the team.]” (This quote is from the article, not necessarily the direct wording of Simon.)
There are a few references to the possibility of the team leaving Indianapolis. We have always believed that a very efficient way to keep an idea alive is a frequent, fervent public denial that it exists at all. Along with a claim of municipal love and loyalty, of course.
Taken as a whole, this presentation seems to us to show a fairly plain attempt to use the taxpayers of Indianapolis to shield the children of a very wealthy man from the effects of estate taxes.
Mr. Simon makes the case that this is a sport and a business, and that ordinary business principles do not apply. We beg to differ. It is an entertainment business, and no more entitled to tax subsidy than a movie theater, a bowling alley or a golf course.
Civic vanity is not a valid reason to allow continuing municipal financial problems while intentionally retaining and abusing the system of tax revenue disbursements.
We can only repeat a statement we've made before. If a businessman astute enough to amass such wealth can only lose money in the extremely favorable conditions available to this operation, the appropriate solutions are pretty obvious. Sell it. Move it. Shut it down.
Whatever the decision may finally be - take the local taxpayers off the hook!!!