We have commented on unusual priorities in Indianapolis many times. Most frequently with regard to expenditure of taxpayer dollars. Yesterday the question came to mind again, although admittedly with a somewhat less direct connection to taxpayer dollars.
The question is the timing and importance to our daily paper of what amounts to a biographical study of a local businessman requiring the use of two full pages of Section A, including about a third of the front page.
Our first reaction was sort of, "Wow! What would it have cost to buy those two inside pages?" Looked like a pretty substantial loss of revenue. Obviously, somebody at the paper decided this was really important stuff.
Then we read the article and found it very interesting, though possibly from a point of view different than the paper had hoped for. The subject is apparently a brilliant businessman who comes from a family of businessmen who have been astute enough to be nationally important in many areas.
The father of the subject has been smart enough to be the owner of the Indiana Pacers. "A team valued at $880 million by Forbes." The article dwells at some length on the intentions of both father and son to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis. "That’s my final legacy" the father says. The son echoes "This team only fits in Indianapolis."
We have to wonder how this all fits with a story in the same paper about two and a half months ago when the thoughts were worded a little differently. At that time, we presented this paragraph.
"The owner of the team is quoted as saying, ‘We’re sitting down to try to extend the lease for the next 25 years...Simon (owner) says Bankers Life can be made viable for another quarter century - viable financially, and for the fan experience - with a major redo that would be considerably cheaper than building a new arena.’"
Pardon our cynicism but that sounds like the legacy might well have a few financial strings attached. We’ve not been informed as to just what a "major redo" entails. History tells us almost anything would be cheaper than another new arena!
And speaking of expenditures, one other sentence in the article caught our eye. Another member of the downtown promotion group - and family friend - says, "The city looks drastically different without the Pacers." Well, yes.
Imagine having devoted $183 million to the cost of a Criminal Justice Center instead of a basketball court. Or suppose we were in the middle of a ten-year agreement to spend $16 million annually on parks, streets and sidewalks.
The gentleman is certainly correct. Things would definitely look different!