For their part, the Pacers say they need the money to make up for their losses, as if their business failings are the problem of local taxpayers. The city, meanwhile, argues it has a deep civic interest in keeping the Pacers, as an empty city-owned fieldhouse would be be a depressing economic drag. So, basically, the city is in a Catch-22 because it was nice enough to build an arena for the team.
Again, you’ve got to be kidding me.
But to be fair there aren’t easy answers here. The “let them go” mantra is misguided and, if fulfilled, would leave the city a diminished place. As I’ve written before, I understand the city’s dilemma when it comes to these big-league negotiations and if I were in charge I’d probably hold my nose — I’d probably need a vise to hold it tight enough — and sign the deals.
What’s the alternative? No Colts? No Pacers? No thanks.In the case of the Pacers, the media folks beholden to the billionaire sports team owner always omit the fact that the CIB had a long-term lease with the Pacers that imposed a hefty penalty on the franchise if it elected to break its lease and move the team to another city before the end of its term. In its negotiations with the Pacers, the CIB has always acted as if the lease agreement contained no such penalty. Instead, it has essentially been offering bribes to Herb Simon not to break the lease with the CIB based upon an imaginary city somewhere out there negotiating in secret to lure the Pacers away. There is no other city courting the Pacers, and the Pacers aren't losing any money as is falsely claimed by the CIB and the local media. Has anyone ever noticed that Herb Simon has never once been asked by the CIB or the media to explain why he needs more subsidies? Instead, we always hear from someone like rent-a-civic leader Jim Morris to whom Simon pays big bucks to make the case publicly on his behalf. Perhaps Herb can't lie in front of the cameras as easily as his paid hacks.
Every economic study worth its salt proves that having a professional sports team in a city has very little economic impact on the local community. In the case of Indianapolis, the sports teams are a drain on the community, sapping away limited resources to the point that basic services can no longer be funded without raising taxes on the city's residents substantially. No other city stands as proof of this point than Detroit, which has a professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams. Even as the city lies in ruins and has been forced into bankruptcy, plans are moving forward on a $400 million new arena in which the Detroit Red Wings will play. So as our schools continue to deteriorate, crime rises, our taxes climb and more people flee to the suburbs for a better way of life, Indianapolis residents can still boast that they have professional sports teams. At least that's how Mr. Tully wants you to feel as you get raped again and again by the two wealthiest men in the state of Indiana.