In looking at an op-ed essay in the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) hyping the values of a new municipal soccer stadium, we decided to take a few specific ideas presented, in our bold face and quotes, and make comments on them individually.
Despite outrageous precedent, our thoughts are based on the concept that professional sports are private, for profit businesses and have no more claim on taxpayer subsidy than a donut shop, a grocery store or an auto repair business.
First, a general comment. As far as municipal government financial benefits are concerned, the economic argument is a loser. Four decades of tax subsidy of professional sports have done nothing to ease budgetary problems. While continuing to throw millions of tax dollars into that fiscal hole, the city maintains a "structural financial problem." And now...:
"...the fan base and corporate support for professional soccer are already here." Fine - in part! Now all we have to do is end the advantage of corporate welfare and let those folks put the corporate dollar where the corporate mouth is. It’s called a business "investment."
"By averaging nearly 10,000 attendees per game...." Relative to the "fan base" mentioned above, and assuming a city population of around 750,000, this "nearly" 1.3% of the citizenry, we are told, constitutes a "resounding, ‘Yes.’" to soccer’s future. A shaky future, we'd think. Nor are we given any substantial reason why 100% of the taxpayers should provide entertainment to 1% of the population.
"Our sports consumers are used to watching successful professional sports in first class venues." Can’t argue with that. Can't justify it, either! It certainly does not explain why the entertainment "consumer", and presenter thereof, should be bringing the taxpayer into the equation at all. A commercial product being offered in the public market is paid for by its consumer. What makes a contest involving some kind of ball appropriate for favorable fiscal treatment? Why not equal tax subsidy for bowling, golf, tennis, etc.?
"...and a stadium plan that will treat taxpayers respectfully are all taking shape." A wonderful idea which, for nearly half a century, has never evolved. The Capital Improvement Board (CIB), the public agency owning and operating the palaces the taxpayer has built, has never shown any interest in how to "...treat the taxpayers respectfully...." The general approach has been, "Pay up but don't bother us."
Are we really expected to believe a soccer ball will somehow inspire more honesty and more common sense than a football or basketball?