That’s how we see the IBJ online story today about the local soccer team beginning play this season in Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s a step toward taxpayer subsidized support of another professional sport.
Average attendance in previous years has hovered around 9,000 people per game. It certainly can be expected for that figure to increase simply by the novelty of the change of venue. This story indicates hopes for a crowd of 15,000 at the opening home game of the season.
This represents filling about one seat in four in the stadium. That embarrassing situation can/will be hidden by hanging curtains to hide the other 48,000 seats, thereby showing a "more intimate" setting. Once again, sleight of hand to prevent the public from recognizing the true situation.
There is no indication of financial arrangements for the deal in this presentation. Will the team pay the same rental fee any other user of the stadium would be charged? To whom would such revenue accrue? The Colts? The CIB? The city general fund? (We just toss that last one in for a laugh!) How much does the "camouflage curtain" add to the cost of the operation?
We have a two-point suggestion for financing this new attack on the taxpayer wallet. Neither has been tried here. We recommend either. Or both!
First, try selling tickets to soccer fans at a price which would actually cover the cost of putting on the game. You know. Expect the fan to pay for the hours of entertainment! Just like a movie. We know precedent is all against this approach, but if it could be started, who knows where it would end?
The other possibility would be a version of our much earlier proposal for Revenue Increment Financing. RIF! Find a way to put the bite on the members of the hospitality industry who are the initial recipients of the always claimed "economic activity" developed by downtown sports.
We’re going to guess that 15,000 people represent something like 1% to 2% of the city population. Let’s give the other 98%/99% a voice in this continuation of decades of a policy leaving the city in "deplorable" financial condition!