...offered on the Opinion Page of the new IBJ which hit our mailbox yesterday was very interesting. It’s an open letter to “Amazon’s Bezos” suggesting Indy would be a great place to land their new operation. At least some of the specific wording was intriguing.
In the first instance the author was congratulating local business and political leaders for having initiated the concept of “...using amateur sports as an economic engine, a successful strategy later emulated by other cities.”
The second item tells us Mayor Hudnut risked his political life by building a stadium in order to attract an NFL football team. “...it worked, and Indy not only won a Super Bowl, but hosted one.”
The third item which caught our eye was really language usage. In lauding then Governor Daniels, we are told he “...encouraged area counties to support a food and beverage tax that paid for a new home for the Indianapolis Colts....”
Lets take them in reverse order. We note that opening of the “new home” was just ten years ago. We don’t know the actual time frame of the debt payment, but we feel pretty certain that the use of the past tense - “paid” - in the third item is more than a little premature.
In fact, considering the fact that nothing had been paid on the debt for the RCA Dome when it was razed after nearly a quarter century, one might be entitled to ask questions about current debt retirement actions.
Concerning the second item, we really believe that the location of a football game won’t make much of an impression. But that game was played here pretty much as a “reward” to the city for the new multi-million dollar stadium, and we wonder if it might give Amazon a nudge to ask for plenty of “incentives” from a city which so often seems to negotiate from a position of “Are you sure that’s enough?” Just what are we offering???
The first item may be the most important one. The school system is proclaiming a need for about three quarters of a billion dollars. (We’re never been told how much of that lack results from loss of school revenues to the wide spread abuse of TIF districts.) Among other public safety problems, probably more important but less obvious, police cars and fire trucks have to negotiate streets which are dangerous to any vehicles which travel at higher speeds. Infrastructure needs are huge.
As a matter of fact, we would suggest that saying we have a “successful economic engine” in operation while the mayor is currently saying that the municipal financial situation is “deplorable” might well put the whole proposition in a different light for the Mr. Bezos.
Why not try a new approach? Let’s tell Amazon what we can really afford, and let’s have a public discussion to arrive at that position. Then let the chips fall wherever they will.