Saturday, February 09, 2013

Hulman Family Steps Up To The Government Trough: Seeks $100 Million For Indianapolis Motor Speedway

When the Hulman family tapped Mark "Rent-A-Civic-Leader" Miles, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership's leader as the new CEO of Hulman & Co., many of us feared that it portended an omen of bad things on the horizon for Indiana taxpayers. The Hulman family's internationally renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway has stood alone among professional sports organizations in Indiana that have not asked taxpayers to publicly subsidize their private business endeavors. It was a fact that stuck in the crawl of members of Indianapolis' downtown mafia, particularly, Miles, who thinks every Hoosier taxpayer has a public duty to contribute their hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the financial well-being of professional sports no different than supporting our public schools, libraries or parks. Sadly, the Hulman family's long legacy of shunning public subsidies has come to an apparent end. The Indianapolis Star reports the family is now seeking up to $100 million in state aid to make improvements to the Speedway so it can do things a little different after a century of operation, such as running events at night with new lighting, if it chooses, adding high-definition video screens, and implementing changes to make the facility more accessible to the disabled after reaching a settlement with the U.S. Attorney's Office recently for violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is seeking aid from the state as part of a plan to fund up to $100 million in improvements at the famed racetrack.
The plan would create a “motor sports investment district” to collect existing state sales, income and corporate taxes generated in an area that includes the IMS to help pay for the improvements, IMS officials said. The collected taxes would raise up to $5 million a year that the state would contribute to help pay off bonds for the improvements over a 20-year period, while the IMS would put up $2 million each year.
Legislation to enact the plan will be unveiled Monday by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. Approval by the General Assembly would be required before it could become law. was first to report the plan on Friday night.
IMS plans to upgrade its infrastructure with changes including new video boards, better lighting and more modern grandstands, IMS officials said. Plans call for spending $70 million to $100 million.
“It’s really about keeping this iconic facility competitive in the sports and entertainment world,” said Jeff Belskus, IMS CEO and president.
Officials say they want to make the speedway more flexible, perhaps for different types of events down the line. The lighting, for example, would make it possible for some races to run at night.
NASCAR fans have complained about searing heat during the mid-summer Brickyard 400, set for July 28 this year. Asked if the IMS would move the Brickyard to the cooler evening hours if the money went through, spokesman Doug Boles said, “There could be a chance.” . . .
Interest and attendance at Speedway racing events has dropped precipitously in recent years as many race fans, reeling from the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, can no longer afford the luxury of attending entertainment events. The Star articles uses the public funding of the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium and the $183 million Bankers Life Fieldhouse, both of which are publicly-owned buildings, as justification for now using state tax dollars to finance the improvements to the privately-owned IMS facilities. Naturally, Speedway officials are pointing to what other states are doing. The privately-owned Texas Motor Speedway has received more than $100 million in public subsidies. Besides, IMS officials promise to cover any shortfall in revenues if the proposed special taxing district fails to generate sufficient revenues to cover the cost of bonds issued for the improvements. How generous of the Hulman family, whose farm in Vigo County currently has the most productive oil wells operating in the state of Indiana, to agree to cover the shortfall.

While you and I have to purchase tickets to attend racing events at the Speedway, every single Indiana lawmaker who will be voting on this $100 million public subsidy, along with scores of other federal, state and local officials, receive free tickets to every event annually if they choose to accept them. I wonder who will win the loyalty of our lawmakers on this one: the peasant taxpayers or the royal crown?


guy77money said...

Ahh isn't this how Rome ended up falling. The government started financing stadiums for barbaric recreation and the men governing kept getting more and more corrupt and the government finally collapsed. History repeats itself. Used to be local government officials only gave away small amounts of taxpayers money. Now it's in the millions.

If the Fed ever starts raising interest rates then all these games local and state government are playing will drive us into the worst recession this country has ever seen since the great depression.

Indy Rob said...

Our country is being run by deadbeats. Those that have no comprehension about the difference between borrowing a dollar and earning one.