Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Deal Yet For Pacers

Mayor Greg Ballard is out of town on a family vacation and his negotiators at the CIB have not reached an agreement with the Pacers on the $18 million a year additional subsidy the Simon-owned NBA team has demanded to cover their operating and maintenance expenses on Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers had set a June 30 deadline for reaching an agreement with the City or the team would consider alternative options, including selling the team and moving it to another city. WISH-TV's David Barris had a balanced story on the debate on this evening's news broadcast that included an interview with me. Barris' report includes an item that is often omitted in local news coverage on the issue--the huge financial penalty the Simons would have to pay to the CIB in order to break its 20-year lease on Conseco Fieldhouse. Barris reports:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - "Not there yet". That’s the word tonight as the Pacers and the Capitol Improvement Board try and hammer out a new lease for Conseco Fieldhouse. Wednesday was the Pacers' self-imposed deadline for a deal with the CIB.

But its likely, even if there is no deal Wednesday, the Pacers won't be leaving town anytime soon. It would likely cost the team tens of millions to leave.

Paul Okeson, a Capitol Improvement Board member is involved in the Pacers negotiations. Discussions says they have been productive.

"It's a very complex set of issues and its very difficult economic times to try and come up with the kind of relief that they think they need."

That relief is between $15 and $18 million a year, what the Pacers say is the cost to them of running Conseco Fieldhouse.

Gary Welsh, an Indianapolis Attorney who has blogged at length at Advance Indiana blog spot, against the CIB giving a new deal to the Pacers says there's a penalty clause in the current lease that would make it tough for the Pacers to pack up and leave town. He says he's seen the lease and the penalty is in the tens of millions.

"Where people differ is how much the penalty would be. Is it $50 million, is it as high as $150 million or somewhere in between."

Welsh says even if the Pacers could find a city that wanted them, the penalty might make a deal impossible to get done.

Larry DeGaris, spends a lot of time studying professional sports as an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Indianapolis. He agrees there isn't much demand for NBA teams right now, but he says the loss of the Pacers might mean shuttering Conseco Fieldhouse.

"It would be much worse off than they have it now, so it would be dormant. I wouldn't see any other alternative if the Pacers and the Fever leave. I don't see any other alternative than shuttering the building and boarding it up."
DeGaris' point on the upcoming collectiving bargaining discussions for the NBA is an important one; however, I disagree with him that the NBA should be involved in the specific negotiations between the CIB and the Pacers. Many NBA owners complain that salaries have gotten so high so many of the teams in smaller markets like Indianapolis simply can't turn a profit. Whether that claim is true is up for debate. The team owners don't make audited finacial statements for their franchises available to the public despite the huge public subsidies they receive from their host cities. The Pacers' problems are also self-inflicted. Many fans have stopped attending their games at Conseco after so many players got into trouble with the law and as the team contiues its long streak of losing seasons. The Pacers have one of the lowest attendance records in the NBA currently. I do agree with DeGaris that the financial picture for teams like the Pacers could change dramatically under a new collective bargaining agreement, which would make any deal between the Pacers and the CIB premature now.


Indy4U2C said...

Bye bye, Thugs!

Oh, I wonder if the DeBartolo's will buy the shopping malls back??? Many shopping malls were sold to the Simon Property Group in 1996, which operated for a few years as the Simon DeBartolo Group....was there a felony conviction in there?

guy77money said...

check out these links to the NBA team salaries and players salaries. and Indiana has the 5th highest payroll for 2010 and 2011 (not counting free agency for 2011). The pacers haven't gotten much bang for their bucks.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for sharing, guy77money. Remember how much the Pacers paid Ron Artest not to even sit on the bench for about 2 years? And then he goes off to LA and leads them to a championship. I'm convinced the guy didn't get his act together when he was here because he didn't want to live in Indianapolis or play for the Pacers. Is that our fault. Apparently our Mayor and the CIB believes it is or they wouldn't be entertaining serious discussions with the Simons to give them millions of dollars more in public subsidies. Most of those guys who play for the Pacers want nothing to do with this city other than to show up for the games and collect their paychecks.

Melyssa said...


M Theory said...

Please email to thank WISH TV8 for including Advance Indiana in their interview. We need more media to listen to the bloggers.

(Thanks Gary!)

dcrutch said...

Amen. Hat-tip to Melyssa, WISH, and anybody publicly recognizing the hard work bloggers do to keep conservative investigative reporting from becoming just a fossil of the relic that is journalism.