The city’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns Conseco Fieldhouse, is still trying to figure out what to do about the Indiana Pacers’ request for financial aid to the tune of $15 million for the upcoming year.
The money is not allocated in the CIB budget approved by the City-County Council earlier this month, but the issue is not dead yet.
“We’re dealing with things one at a time,” said CIB member Pat Early, who has been the point person in dealing with the Pacers. “To say absolutely, positively, the Pacers are on their own is not an accurate statement. As we work through this, we are hopeful we can be creative.”
I’m not sure what “be creative” means, and I’m not sure Early does either. But Early added that there’s no thought that the financial problems facing the small market Pacers “will simply go away.”
“The Pacers are desperate to seek solutions to get themselves closer to break even,” Early said. “We’re not closing the door on anything.”
Early gave no indication where the funds would come from, but he did say the possibility of the Pacers’ folding or moving if this situation isn’t eventually addressed is a real one. He said the team’s ownership has not made any threats or comments about moving or folding the franchise, but the team’s financial challenges dictate city leaders consider that possibility.
“Then we still have all the costs associated with owning and operating that facility and no one left to occupy or operate it,” Early said.
Either Pat Early is the worst negotiator on the face of the earth, or he is orchestrating an extortion plot against the public on behalf of the Simons to get the additional money they want to subsidize their NBA franchise--the additional money the Pacers' management deny they ever requested I might add. The more than $400 million Indianapolis taxpayers have forked over to help the Simons build their business fortune over the years just won't cut it. The CIB's current board is scheduled to be replaced next January. You can bet every effort will be made to pull off this give-away prior to the seating of a new board.
Instead of worrying about how the taxpaying public can help the Simons purchase another $25 million mansion in Bel-Air, city leaders might focus their attention on a real threat to downtown's economic future. Vacancy rates are approaching a high-water mark not seen since the early 1990s before Circle Centre Mall opened. Safeco is abandoning space on North Meridian Street now occupied by 580 employees, who are being located to the City's far northside. Eli Lilly is contracting its Indianapolis-based employment and planning to lease out space in the Faris Building. Lilly's headcount at its downtown facilities is down several thousand from five years ago. "Departures by Safeco and Lilly would dump nearly 1 million square feet of office space-the equivalent of another Chase Tower-onto a market segment that already is reeling," the IBJ's Cory Schouten reports. "Observers say office-vacancy rates could exceed the 23-percent peak of the early 1990s before the market levels off," he adds. The continued loss of downtown jobs has a much greater economic impact on downtown than the Pacers. Has somebody figured out yet that businesses don't choose to locate downtown because there is a professional football or basketball team that plays there?