[O]ur understanding of the CIB's history is that the CIB's shortfall is neither new nor unexpected. In fact, only a relatively small portion of the predicted shortfall can be directly attributed to the increase in actual maintenance and operations expense required by Lucas Oil Stadium. What is particularly puzzling is that the shortfall appears to have only become a crisis when the CIB concluded it might be obligated to assume all the operating costs of Conseco Fieldhouse to avoid an early termination of the Pacers' lease.Wow. That's quite a mouthful. Essentially, the Colts are telling us that we have every reason to question the true motivation behind the bailout request and the numbers being tossed around by the CIB. As has been pointed out before, when the CIB originally asked the legislature for money to cover the operating expenses before the original construction plan had been approved, the CIB said it had no idea what these costs were going to be. Later, the number $5 million got tossed out. The number later increased to $10 million. Now we're told it's $20 million. It seems to me if the Colts organization is questioning that amount as the tenant, then we as taxpayers should be questioning it as well.
There are other parts of the Colts' letter that are hard to swallow. "The Colts never asked for a new stadium," the letter reads. "In 2004, the City of Indianapolis approached the Colts about the possibility of a new stadium, not the other way around." "The City's need for an expanded convention center and desire to accommodate the NCAA for future Final Fours prompted its exploration of a facility to replace the RCA Dome." The letter insists that at no point did the "Colts threaten to leave Indianapolis or otherwise hold the city hostage." Many would dispute that claim. The public certainly has been led to believe that building the new stadium was necessary to keep the Colts from leaving. We sure wasted a whole lot of money on it--$750 million-- if the only reason for building it was an excuse to expand the convention center.
The Colts' also defend their 30-year lease agreement with the CIB on the new stadium, saying it leaves "no option to renegotiate, regardless of any financial downturns that might arise." "In essence, the risk of financial success in a small market has been shifted from the city solely to the Colts." Excuse me if it doesn't seem that way when we're being asked to pay another $48 million in annual expenses for the CIB on top of the more than $100 million the sports teams and convention center are currently costing us. The Colts boast that the stadium "has successfully hosted many events having nothing whatsoever to do with professional football and many more are already scheduled for years to come." The problem is that the CIB isn't sharing in those revenues sufficient to offset the benefit of these non-game events.
This may be surprising as well. "Jim Irsay has personally met with Senator Luke Kenley and Mayor Greg Ballard to discuss these matters," the letter says. "Our representatives have also been frank, open, and continuing communication with the CIB and the financial leaders of the state legislature since this issue began to emerge early last winter." That doesn't exactly jive with what the CIB leaders have been saying publicly, but who knows who is telling the truth. The bottom line is that the taxpayers have all the more reason to view this bailout plan touted by the CIB with suspicion.