Local blogs were agog last week about a trip the financially strapped Indiana Pacers hosted for sponsors to Cancun, Mexico, recently.
The blogs reported the Pacers took 60 people on a five-day trip to an exclusive oceanside resort.
These bloggers, however, had it only half right.
They were outraged that the Pacers would pay for such largess while the team is asking the CIB to take over the $15 million cost of running Conseco Fieldhouse each year.
But as Greg Schenkel, vice president of corporate and public relations for the Pacers, pointed out, the annual trip is a part of the sponsorship contracts the team has with various companies, including The Indianapolis Star.
So the trip's costs are covered by the sponsorship dollars, he said.
Schenkel would not release a list of who went on the trip, but he did say no one from the CIB or the city or state government went.
They're knocking the blogs for reporting the trip in the first instance? And they think this is responsible journalistic reporting? As usual, the Star doesn't disclose its own sweet-heart, $2-$3 million loan to the CIB to pay for Conseco Fieldhouse, which the newspaper is now being asked to forgive, or the fact that it got that money it loaned to the CIB from the Circle Centre Mall in which it invested and which is run by the Simons. Like Conseco Fieldhouse, the Simons pay no rent to operate Circle Centre Mall. You pay for it; they pocket the profits. I don't know how much poking around the Star did on this subject, but increasingly in the business world such trips are being banned because of the potential for conflicts of interest with the employees handling the account. At least one Gannett employee has told me that this trip clashed with the company's stated policy. Oh well, don't expect to learn the full story on this one from the Star. If the newspaper really wanted the list of attendees, couldn't it have asked its own employee who participated in the trip for that information? And the blogger the Star took a dig at without naming in the column for supposedly only getting the story half right? Ruth Holladay is a former, long-time columnist for the paper.
At least one honest person remains on the Star reporting staff. Star political columnist Matt Tully remains unfazed from the harsh attacks he came under from the elites after he criticized the Pacers for seeking $15 million a year more from the CIB to operate Conseco Fieldhouse. He offers some straight talk in his column today, including the dispelling of the notion that dire consequences will occur if the Pacers leave town. Meanwhile, the Star editorial staff thinks there should be a state-funded bailout of the CIB and taxpayers outside Marion County should help pay for it.