“We’re expecting fairly significant increases in revenues,” said CIB President Bob Grand. But in the interim, the board’s bracing for tight budgets and potential cuts to shore them up.
“We’ll have to be very fiscally responsible in the next three years,” Grand said.
He said CIB has dropped a couple of charitable golf outings and also has flatlined a total of $1.4 million in grants to the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indiana Black Expo and the Indiana Sports Corp. in its 2009 budget. He said those could be cut if needed.
“If those activities are driving revenues … then I’m going to support them,” Grand said. “If not … they’ll probably be reviewed and cut.”
But spending reductions of that magnitude would be a drop in the budget. Lucas Oil’s $27.7 million in estimated operating costs represent nearly 36 percent of CIB’s operating expenses.
CIB didn’t face the same challenges at the RCA Dome, in part because it controlled more of the revenue. Barney Levengood, executive director of CIB, told IBJ that he did not have revenue and expenses for the RCA Dome, saying his office does not break out the information that way.
CIB may be able to find some relief to financial pressures by using revenue generated by other venues it oversees, said Rob Hunden, a consultant who formerly worked for the Indianapolis Bond Bank.
“They have a lot of ways to move things around,” said Hunden, president of Chicago-based Hunden Strategic Partners.
Bet you didn't know the CIB has been helping to fund the arts and Indiana Black Expo? That is a complete deviation from the CIB's mission. Hunden's comment that the CIB has "a lot of ways to move things around" to shore up the funding problem highlights the fact that the CIB operates as a private slush fund for the City, operating completely without accountability to the taxpayers.
The fact is that there is no money to operate Lucas Oil Stadium because Fred Glass and Bart Peterson gave away the store to the Irsays during the negotiations on the new stadium construction. Notice there is no talk of reopening those negotiations. No other NFL team owner has received a larger subsidy than Irsay's Colts. The deal is the biggest taxpayer ripoff in NFL history. Irsay gets most of the revenues generated from the stadium and pays absolutely none of its operating and maintenance expenses.
This comment from Grand in Whitson's story is infuriating. "Grand said he didn’t think the board would need to tap taxpayers for any additional money to cover operating expenses 'at this point,' adding that the CIB traditionally has operated 'pretty efficiently.'" The CIB has operated "pretty efficiently" my ass. If it were a business, it would have long ago been shut down from bankruptcy. Note how much over budget the stadium is. The stadium's original construction cost was $625 million. The final tab is now expected to be $720 million, consuming a $90 million contingency fund. Thanks to Gov. Daniels, any extra funds raised from new taxes on food and beverages, hotels, car rentals and admissions above what is needed to meet annual debt obligations must be used exclusively to pay down the debt sooner. This was not the case with the RCA Dome, where CIB officials diverted tax revenues intended for debt reduction to other projects. As a consequence, the CIB still owes about $70 million on the RCA Dome, nearly what it cost to build originally, as its demolition begins to make way for the expanded convention center.