In October??? Well, that was our reaction to the format of this week’s editorial in the Indianapolis Business Journal. The headline for that essay says, “Pacers negotiation could be dicey.”
We have to admit that much of this item closely parallels our latest blog, labeled “A tale of two cities....” Their wording is more specific than ours. The message is the same. The city should be prepared for some (we would say) outrageous financial demands from the basketball team.
The team owner wants a “major redo” of the building, without telling us just what that means and how much it might cost. He tries to make us feel better by saying it would be less expensive than a new building! No mention of the recent updates paid for from the annual $16 million subsidy from the city.
He also wants a 25 year lease extension (currently $1 per year) which would help make the team “viably financially.” According to its own statements, the team has never been “viable financially” - that is operated in the black - since it first set foot in Market Square Arena 43 years ago! Just what does he have in mind here? This is a business operation which, under anything close to normal operations, would have declared bankruptcy and shut its doors decades ago.
A new contract would also make the “fan experience” better. It is hard to find anything in the Constitution or any specific law which makes a taxpayer responsible for the comfort of a sports fan!!
But here’s where the April Fool joke comes in. Smack dab in the middle of the editorial is an insert which negates the whole thing. We quote.
”Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a key city asset that should be updated." (Bold face sic.)
They were just joking. All other text should be disregarded. In order to be “world class” the city must be home to a professional basketball team, and if that means forgetting all logic and common sense, so be it. The taxpayer will be once again be hung out to dry for the benefit of a private, for-profit business.
Another extensive article in the same issue tells us how successful the drive for non-basketball events at the fieldhouse has been. Other than a few words touting an estimate, from a study bought by the team, of “economic impact,” there is no mention of the fact that the city - the owner of the building - receives not one penny of the revenues pouring in through the sale of tickets, parking, food and beverage, etc.. Presumably a new 25 year contact would continue, or improve for the team, that fact of life.
Oh well, maybe a different time table would really be more apropos. Instead of shouting “April fool”, the Capital Improvement Board will, once again, just dress the taxpayer in a Santa Claus suit and let it go at that!
And the media outcry will be as deafening as that cloud of butterflies in the garden!