Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Reminder Of How Badly Taxpayers Were Shafted By Lucas Oil Stadium Deal

The facts surrounding the lease agreement forged between the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on the new Lucas Oil Stadium are scandalous. When you see the details in print, you are left asking yourself, "How could this have happened?" The Star's Ted Evanoff lays out the lurid details, which explain why there is no money left to pay for the operating and maintenance expenses for the costly new stadium, but Jim Irsay will be able to pocket $1.4 billion. Here is what they are:

  • Jim Irsay gets a share of any money you spend at the stadium, including food, beverage, memorabilia and parking.
  • Irsay gets 100% of the game day ticket sales and half of the ticket sales from all non-game events.
  • Any money spent on advertising at the stadium belongs to Irsay.
  • Jim Irsay keeps every dime of the "sales of suites and club seats to corporations and the well-heeled."
  • Irsay could make an additional $41 million a year above the $150 million or more his Colts have made in the RCA Dome.
  • Irsay pays zero rent and pays none of the operating and maintenance expenses on the stadium.

Why is it necessary to screw over the taxpayers so badly? It always comes down to the size of Indianapolis' market and how the public has to fork over more if it wants a professional football team. "Smaller cities such as Indianapolis tend to shell out more for new stadiums because they fear the team will move away -- something club owners often threaten to do," Evanoff writes. For Indianapolis, that meant shelling out at least 89% of the $720 million cost to be build Lucas Oil Stadium. Evanoff's comparison of other cities' stadium deals makes it abundantly clear Irsay got the best deal in the nation. According to the figures furnished in Evanoff's story, no other public stadium cost more, except for the new stadium in Arlington, Texas for the Dallas Cowboys. Yet the public there is only covering 30% of the costs of that $1.1 billion stadium. And what does Indianapolis get? Prestige. "Keeping the team in Indianapolis lends the city a certain prestige bestowed on few American cities," Evanoff writes.

I still remember when Mayor Goldsmith renegotiated the lease on the RCA Dome back in the 1990s with the Colts. We were told that was an "ironclad" agreement. But it required the City to pay subsidies to the team if the team's revenues dropped below a certain level. Irsay started lobbying the City for a new stadium before the ink on the old deal was even dry. In the end, your government broke the lease agreement and paid Irsay a cool $40 million break-up fee so he could enter into this completely one-sided agreement. As bad as it would have seemed if the taxpayers had been required to pay a maximum of $160 million in subsidies to the Colts under that old agreement, it would have been a bargain compared to what we've been stuck with under the new stadium.


Unknown said...

It's not hard negotiation deals like this when you basically give everything away.

Let's see...we built a new stadium for the Colts so they could make more money,and then we paid them to get out of their RCA Dome lease? How nutty is that?

Indy4U2C said...

...and crime is rampant. We are not safe in our homes because our judges say there's no room in the jail, so they release criminals with ankle bracelets that have no meaning to the criminal, but instill fear in us, as we continue to be victimized!

Our streets have holes that can't get fixed, because the (Mayor's Action Center) place that takes the reports cannot staff itself properly. Crashes happen because broken signals reported cannot be responded to by city staff, because the MAC is understaffed.

Our snow plows are literal rust buckets, that can't hold salt anymore.

Our fire apparatus is old and can't be maintained because Bart raped the city.

Our police can't get to emergencies because Bart wouldn't let them hire any officers for 2 years, and stopped buying police cars! The police fleet can't be maintained.

All this, and the rich get's disgusting. Bart Peterson raped this city, gave our tax money to make the rich richer and sealed these dirty deals for our money.

--And a family of 4 cannot afford to attend an event in the stadium they paid for!

Democrats have sent this city into a spiral. Look for this city to become South Detroit, Indiana.

Indy4U2C said...

I'd much rather my taxes go to:

1. Fix the streets, keep traffic moving safely,

2. Provide our fire department the equipment & staff it needs to keep my family safe (without ghost employees like Monroe Gray),

3. Provide the police department with employees, cars, and equipment it needs to keep my family safe from criminals.

4. Build, maintain, & staff a super-jail to put the criminals that terrorize our city in, so home detention can be terminated. A super-jail has much more need than a stadium!

5. Equip our city with trucks, road salt, traffic signal repair staff, Mayor's Action Center staff to take calls of problems and provide for the common safety and ease of transit.

--All of these things are MUCH more needed and proper for government to use our tax dollars than a stadium for the super-wealthy to lounge in, and keep those of us who paid for the stadium and its upkeep out!!!

artfuggins said...

Indy4u2c, Mayor Ballard is mayor of this is time to start holding him accountable for problems.

M Theory said...

I wish Irsay had moved. I can't stand that man. There has got to be a special place in hell for men like Irsay of so little moral character.

Jon E. Easter said...

Bart, Bart, Bart...

Mitch...Mitch...Mitch negotiated the deal that built the stadium.

Anonymous said...

If your paying for the stadium, your not utilizing your Stadium Tax Deductions correctly. I am not getting shafted because I am not paying.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Gov. Daniels had nothing to do with the lease agreement. Mayor Peterson and Fred Glass worked out that deal before the state financing package was ever put together. They knew there was no money for the operating and maintenance expenses and went ahead nonetheless knowing that. After the law was passed and stadium construction commenced, they went back to Daniels and the legislature to change the law to allow the regional tax revenues to be used for operating and maintenance expenses. They were told no. Now we are stuck with a new stadium we have no way of paying for. That's entirely the fault of Peterson, Glass and the CIB.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

jon e. easter you are either incredibly stupid or a liberal liar.

Which is it?

Concerned Taxpayer said...

You are RIGHT, fuggins...Greg Ballard is mayor.

Let's blame Mayor Ballard for bart peterson's deals.

Bart Lies said...

I went to the car dealer and asked that they give ma a new car and terminate the lease on the old car by paying the residual value to me.

They laughed at me, for some reason.

Bart Lies said...

Jon is so confused. Bart's henchmen negotiated the deal. Mitch went on the hook to arrange the financing.

Flipper said...

Melyssa. Is it time for a protest in front of oil can stadium

SW Lane said...

Kinda harsh, arent you Concerned?

The really SAD issue of this whole thing is the "prestige" label being used to justify this BS. But hey, this among other issues was what finally enabled a majority of voters to get rid of Peterson, the architect of this f--kery.

Of course, when I see his replacement, Ballard, jovially celebrating all of Peterson's legacy, when the new stadium opened, I realize that you cannot put a political party label on stupidity, ie 'look at the shiny new bauble!' Pathetic.

Sean Shepard said...

I think there is a lot of misinformation out there (which Jon was probably referencing) that Gov. Daniels took over and negotiated the whole deal, I think what I recall is that the State stepped in to work on the financing and construction end in partnership with the city maybe?
Not sure and would need to do some digging for the facts.

Ultimately it comes to this:

We should not negotiate with terrorists, even economic ones.

We should never accept a company or organization basically saying, "transfer money from the taxpayers to our organization, directly or indirectly, or we'll take our ball and go somewhere else."

Unknown said...


Please try to elminate the redundancies in your comments.

Sean Shepard said...

sw lane - I seem to recall former Mayor Peterson being invited to and given a prominent on stage seat during the stadium ceremonies recently.

I do not recall Mayor Ballard "basking" in the glory of the recently discovered epidemic of crooked cops that hurts the image of the majority of them that are good officers. I don't recall Ballard "basking" in the recently discovered off-budget financing that was hidden away. I don't recall Mayor Ballard stacking the Council meeting with his own people when making his presentation a couple of weeks ago.

And don't forget that it would be a terrible insult for the new Mayor to not attend the various events, it's part of the job.

Give the guy a chance. He gets a one year honeymoon period and then we get to see if things get better and if the city indeed is able to reduce its spending and get the budget ballanced.

Personally, I just feel better about my city with Greg there instead of Bart.

artfuggins said...

The state took the financing and oversight of the construction as part of the Mitch Daniels blackmail scheme to get legislative approval and dollars so dont blame Bart or the Democrats. Concerned Taxpayer, I see you belong to the club that when the facts are against you then start name calling and making derogatory remarks.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Actually, fuggins, you liberals just cannot stand to hear the truth about yourselves.

You live in somekind of Never Never Land where all you have to do is wish something and it becomes fact.

7th CD guy said...

Mayor Ballard is mayor of this is time to start holding him accountable for problems.

Correct, Ballard is the Maoyr of Indy. He inherited problems that were caused by the Peterson administration. It took Peterson 8years to get the city this screwed up. Ballard can't fix it in 8 months.
Instead of blaming him for the problems, why not help him find solutions?
Ballard needs a chance, Peterson had his 8 years and look what happened, give Ballard 4 and then re-visit his position and the condition of the city.

Nobody held Peterson accountable until it was too late. Greg CAN fix it, just a little bit at a time.

Mike Kole said...

Great article. It's a shame the Star wasn't on the front lines, when this deal was still in the works, with this kind of detail and analysis. It was certainly possible, but the Star played it safe, not wanting to upset the team and perhaps cause their sports writers to lose access to the team.

As always, the Star chimes in with the god stuff only once it becomes ineffectual for them to do so.

artfuggins said...

I guess he can solve it by selling our parks to private developers.

guy77money said...

Mitch came in saved the day (bummer) for the mayor. He then was able to dole out the contracts throwing the mayor a bone or two. This was all politics and contracts which go hand and hand! Give me the library and the cost over runs on the parking garage any day. At least people are learning at the downtown library. What's the lesson at Lucas Oil? Win at any cost of course. Another sad commentary on Indianapolis and the people who have made sports their religion!

varangianguard said...

I suppose everybody realizes that this process will begin to repeat itself in no more than 15 years from now.

Unknown said...

7th CD,

You actually think the Mayor is going to fix anything when his top advisors are stealing everything that is not nailed down? Mayor Ballard's only chance of fixing things is to send the Barnes & Thornbug mafia packing. They could care less about the Mayor' success. All they care about is walking away with as much money as they can before (or should I say "if") Ballard wakes up.