The team's announcement on Thursday that it will put $16 million of its own money into a new sound system and scoreboards in Bankers Life Fieldhouse was applauded by mayoral Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn and at the same time ruled out by him as a factor in the management contract negotiations.
That does not mean, however, that the Pacers, who pleaded financiall hardship in the 2010 crisis, will not come to the table this time saying they are $16 million poorer.
Taxpayers did not know the team's fiscal condition in 2010, when it negotiated a $10-million-a-year operating subsidy for the fieldhouse, which was built with public funds and is leased to the Pacers for $1 a year. They don't know it now, either. Publicly, team executive James Morris is saying only that billionaire owner Herb Simon would hate to take the team elsewhere but cannot afford to operate the arena in a small market.
Then and now, taxpayers have known the condition of the city-county and CIB budgets, and that they are dire. The CIB's new proposed budget, recently submitted to the City-County Council for approval, does not include Pacers money. Adding it would require separate council action. CIB reserves were tapped for the current subsidy; and the board remains, as it was then, strapped . . .The fact that the editorial doesn't dismiss out of hand giving any more subsidies to the Pacers, particularly in light of the economic depression average people have been living through the past four years and the fact that the city is facing a $50-$60 million budget deficit, tells you that the newspaper's editors will find an excuse, no matter how thin, to back more subsidies for the team no matter how thin that excuse might be. They always do a lot of huffing and puffing, but at the end of the day, they always come down on the side of the billionaire sports team owners and against the public. And then they wonder why nobody wants to buy a subscription to the newspaper.
The resurgence of the team on the court certainly has added to that tangible and intangible value. But reality is reality: The pantry is stretched and the line is long. The for-profit sports corporation has to give evidence of need, and has to give ground.