After a series of painful budget cuts, months of political wrangling by state lawmakers and a precariously close vote by the City-County Council, now comes the hard part for the Capital Improvement Board.There you have it. Everythng is on the table. Although the article quotes CCC President Bob Cockrum as saying it would be difficult to obtain council support for more funding, he knows damn good and well the council past up the opportunity to control the outcome of the renegotiation with the Pacers. The current board members will turn over next January, and Bob Grand, Pat Early and the rest of the Board, all of whom are in the pockets of the sports teams, will make sure this renegotiation takes place before the new appointments occur, leaving it to a newly-reorganized board to pick up the pieces. As to the $26.3 million debt payment the Board's Treasurer, Ann Lathrop, discusses in the article, you can bet a deal has already been cut with the State to avoid that payment but she avoided saying anything about it to keep the pressure on wavering councilors.
The fact is, the CIB, which oversees the city's stadiums and the Indiana Convention Center, still faces enormous challenges . . .
Among the most difficult will be hammering out a new financial agreement with the Indiana Pacers, who, after years of losses, say they can no longer bear the entire $15 million cost of operating Conseco Fieldhouse.
Among those challenges is finding a way to help the Pacers.
The team has lost $200 million since Herb and Melvin Simon bought it in 1983, said Pacers spokesman Greg Schenkel.
The Pacers have made clear, Early said, that they can't continue to sustain those kinds of losses.
"I don't want to downplay the fact that there's some urgency," Early said. "We're either going to have to (find a solution), or we run a real risk of them not being in Indianapolis."
Schenkel said the team's intention is to stay here forever, and that's why it's important to continue discussions with the CIB.
The team's 20-year contract, signed in 1999, allows the Pacers an option of terminating early if they can show they are facing financial hardship, Early said.
Although the team has not asked to renegotiate its contract, it has given the CIB financial documents to show it is losing money.
CIB officials and city leaders have pledged they will continue to work with the team, but at this point, there are no concrete solutions.
Paul Okeson, chief of staff for Mayor Greg Ballard, said the city must get a sense of how much money the Pacers need before discussing a funding solution.
He said an agreement with the club could cost even more than the estimated $15 million the CIB would have to spend to operate Conseco Fieldhouse.
"Everything is on the table," Okeson said. "No doubt we're in a tough financial position, but we've got to make it work."
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Now Let's Talk About That $15 Million For The Pacers
You and I both knew Councilor Robert Lutz was lying through his teeth when he told people in attendance at the Rules & Public Policy Committee hearing on the $21 million a year tax, spend and borrow CIB bailout hearing that the extra $15 million a year for the Pacers was off the table and not a part of this proposal. Originally, Lutz claimed he would offer an amendment before the ordinance's final adoption that gave the City-County Council more control over the agreements the CIB enters into with the sports franchises, but he pulled that amendment at Monday night's meeting. With the ink barely dry on the new city ordinance, the CIB leadership is already discussing giving away millions more to the Simon family despite the continued budget woes it faces. The Star's Francesca Jarosz fill us in on their plan: