Who would have guessed? The worst excuse for a political columnist in all of America comes out in support of an $87 million publicly-funded soccer stadium for a Turkish businessman about whom little is known other than he's shoveled large piles of campaign dough into the pockets of our state and local politicians. Of course, the taxpayers are not only footing the bill to construct the new stadium, the Capital Improvement Board will be stuck owning the stadium and paying for its upkeep even though not one dime will be paid in property taxes on it. Nonetheless, we're assured that it's a totally swell idea according to Matt Tully:
Not all corporate tax breaks are created equal, and it is important to note that the one being proposed to help finance a stadium for the city’s new professional soccer team, Indy Eleven, is not some sort of wild boondoggle. In fact, it’s a sensible, fair proposal that would greatly help the city while not in any way stealing money from schools, roads or other essential city services.
I make that last point because I’ve heard charges of the opposite from some readers and social media critics who are portraying the stadium as another example of misplaced priorities, or a corporate giveaway that could hurt other city services. That’s simply not the case.
This proposal is significantly different in spirit than, say, slapping a tax on restaurant bills to fund a stadium, or shifting tax burdens from businesses to homeowners so that corporations can get a break. We’ve seen those things happen. And whether or not those initiatives were reasonable ideas, they were without question different than what is being considered for Indy Eleven . . .
“This is a win-win for the state,” said Paul Okeson, a former deputy mayor and now a top aide to Indy Eleven founder Ersal Ozdemir, CEO of Keystone Group construction.
And he is right.
You only have to look at the demand for season tickets to see that this region has suffered from an unmet demand for professional soccer. And you only have to drive around the city or the suburbs on any weekend day to see how soccer has come to dominate the youth recreation sports world. It’s become a great cross-cultural magnet and it is almost guaranteed that the Indy Eleven crowds will be as wonderfully diverse, and young, as anything we’ve seen in Central Indiana. . .
Of course, it’s fair to ask whether the team is prematurely seeking a stadium. Some have suggested it wait until it has played a season or two on IUPUI’s soccer field, just to be safe. But remember, under that cautious thinking Indianapolis never would have built the RCA Dome and lured the Colts to town. The time to act is now.
“We have sold more tickets than any North American Soccer League team,” Okeson said. “We want to capture that momentum.”
The Indy Eleven organization in a short period has shown itself to be a savvy, community friendly operation. The team has been a constant presence at community events and won widespread praise for honoring the Civil War-era 11th Indiana Regiment with its team name.
Its marketing has been top-notch, and it worked hard to sell thousands of season tickets, knowing that would not only build buzz but also help make the case for a stadium. Then it went out and hired Murray Clark, the head of the 60,000-member Indiana Soccer Association and a former Republican state party chairman, to sell the stadium to skeptical Republicans who control the Statehouse.
Will the team get its stadium this year? It’s too early in the match to say yes or no. But it received a boost last week when the House Ways and Means Committee added language to another bill that would help the stadium effort. The most important thing the committee did was keep the issue alive as the legislative session approaches its conclusion.
The stadium may or may not be authorized this year. But even before it has played its first match -- that comes on April 12 -- Indy Eleven has emerged as an important part of the sports landscape. Let’s hope it ultimately gets a stadium that matches its potential.It is beyond belief how misguided and hostile the news media is in this town to the average man and woman on the street. Whenever someone complains about how bad our city streets and sidewalks are, the run-down condition of city parks, rampant crime in war-torn neighborhoods and inept snow removal efforts by the city, the public is told it's their fault because they're paying too little in taxes. Whenever a big campaign contributor comes up with an idea for spending money on a new sports venue or his private development project, our city leaders open up the public coffers with the full blessing of their shills in the media and shower them with as much money as their heart's desire and tell us such things as it's coming from a different pot, or it's not really being paid for by the taxpayers even when it's a publicly-owned entity paying the mortgage and the bills. This column is nothing but a press release for Indy Eleven and is so filled with misinformation it's not worthy of a response. If Tully isn't on Ersal Ozdemir's gravy train with all of the rest of the politicians performing gymnastic moves for him, he should be. Just remember Tony Rezko. The day of reckoning for some in this corrupt town is coming.