Sunday, August 19, 2012

Star Editors Will Back More Subsidies For Pacers

The number one priority for the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star is to remain on the best of terms with the elite insiders downtown whose opinions it values more than the current and would-be subscribers of the newspaper. That's the only way you can explain its unswerving support of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the billionaire owners of Indianapolis' sports franchises. In 2010, the editors pushed the meme of the elites that more than 60,000 hospitality jobs were at risk if the Indiana Pacers weren't provided a three-year, $33.5 million subsidy to pay operating expenses and make repairs to the Fieldhouse, an obligation of the Pacers under its long-term lease which gives the team exclusive control of the arena built with taxpayer dollars rent-free. Some who read the Star's most recent editorial discussing the possibility of additional subsidies for the Pacers might mistakenly think think the editors will oppose more subsidies:

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 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.
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.


Had Enough Indy? said...

Compare the size of the sports section to the size of metro - and omit the obits for the comparison. That's where the bread is buttered for the Star. Today's paper is 8 sports pages to 3 metro, if you include the weather page.

Unigov said...

I wonder if the Pacers get to depreciate the Fieldhouse, because they lease it. I've looked thru IRS publication 946 and still can't figure it out.

Fieldhouse was worth about $200 million when the lease began.

The sham Toll Road deal was struck because the lessees could depreciate the toll road, thus generating an artificial tax deduction for the lessees' investors.