Thursday, April 23, 2009

Colts Fire Away At Pacers And CIB

The Indianapolis Colts' organization released a sharply-worded letter to Colts fans today. It defended its contributions to Lucas Oil Stadium and the community and took aim at the CIB and the Indiana Pacers. The letter reads, in part:

[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.


Unigov said...

Tony Dungy gave a speech at the statehouse when they were cooking up the Colts Stadium deal a few years ago.

He described the steps they were taking to build up the team, and how they wanted to build a dynasty etc.

Then he said, "We want to do it here."

A not-so-subtle phrase, meaning the Colts are leaving - unless we get a new stadium.

A stadium the Colts wanted, and that the governor and mayor wanted to give them...the government likes building things, it lets them funnel money around to unions and to construction companies. Hence the new airport we didn't need, Pacers arena, etc.

Patriot Paul said...

This is a particularly strong Colt's statement. At this point, who to believe? It is no wonder the City Council seems hesitant to endorse taxes, especially when these taxes are targeted and therefore discriminatory and even punitive on the public which had nothing to do with the atrocious CIB incompetence. If anything, the finger pointing of laying the heavy back onto the CIB should be of no surprise given the shenanigans of CIB's mismanagement. But maybe that's what we're supposed to believe?

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm not buying what the Colts are selling. I didn't think it could happen, but the Colts have me feeling sympathy for the CIB. I feel like I'm in high school again, watching the nerdy, naive kid (the CIB) getting picked on by the arrogant class jock (the Colts). It makes me want to kick the stuffing out of the jock.

Downtown Indy said...

OK, let's assume the Colt's never asked for a new stadium. Then why did they push such a tough negotiation so that they claimed almost every source of revenue it was to generate?


I suppose the CIB twisted their arm and FORCED them to!

Or the letter is a lie. Place yer bets on which one.

Gary R. Welsh said...

There are two valuable points lawmakers and city councilors should take away from the Colts letter. The Colts clearly are questioning the $20 million figure the CIB is claiming it will incur in additional expense in maintaining the stadium. The CIB's own inconsistency on the extent of these expenses presents plenty of cause for concern. The second point is one that I've been making all along. The Pacers' $15 million issue is totally self-inflicted. The Pacers claim they didn't ask for $15 million and the CIB has thrown it into the mix to build its own self-induced crisis. The rest of the letter is pretty much just spin, but I don't think you can dismiss those other two points in the letter.

Downtown Indy said...

The FDIC convention is good for about 5 days, IHSAA 4 days, two concerts 2 days. In that short list you have the same number of days the Colts make use of the facility in a year.

Can anyone, with a straight face, claim that there couldn't be 2, 3, 4 times as many other events booked in there instead of the Colts?

Why do we need to bow down to Jim Irsay?

Citizen Kane said...

Guess what. They are all lying, each in their own perverse way.

Thomas Paine said...

How can Irsay say with a straight face that they gave $100 million to the city for building Lucas when they got that money right back FROM Forest Lucas for the naming rights??? Liar. I find this the most annoying thing about all of this, that Irsay made money on the naming of what is essentially a public building. The Colts have no skin in the game. If intstead that $100 million that Forest Lucas had paid to Irsay went to the city, that would be a completely different matter.

Downtown Indy said...

Don't forget, Thomas - the Colts got $48M to 'terminate' their RCA dome lease.

Anyone ever take their leased car back to the dealer and have the dealer give them a huge check AND another newer, bigger, fancier car?

Of course not.

M Theory said...

Thomas you know Ir$ay doesn't lie! He's a Christian!