|The greedy billionaire NBA team owner and his trophy wife|
I've told you before that by the time another giveaway by the CIB to one of the billionaire sports team owners becomes known to the taxpaying public, board members have already been thoroughly briefed behind closed doors and given their marching orders before it ever appears as an item on a board meeting agenda. History repeated itself today when the board conducted a very brief meeting and said, hell yeah, let's give away CIB property to Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers for the next 50 years rent-free to build new offices and practice facilities for his NBA team, along with a bunch of free parking spaces. They didn't have to debate it or learn any new information because they already knew how it was going to go down before they walked into the board meeting this afternoon and wrapped up their discussion in under 30 minutes. So much for our state's Open Door Law.
CIB President Earl Goode, a curmudgeonly, political crony of Mitch Daniels, immediately dubbed the plan a "win-win" proposition. Herb Simon gets a 40-year rent-free ground lease on the property across from Banker's Life Fieldhouse to build what is described as a $50 million, 130,000 square-foot, five-story building that will include a practice basketball court and training facility for the Pacers, office space for Pacers Sports & Entertainment and a parking facility for Pacers players and employees. The CIB is gifting the Pacers 204 city-owned parking spaces in the Virginia Avenue parking garage to make up for lost parking spaces the Pacers will lose because its building this new monstrosity on existing free parking space the CIB gives to the Pacers.
Noticeably missing from today's discussion after this important item was leaked to the media only yesterday afternoon was who the secret tenant was that Herb has lined up to fill the fifth floor of this new building. Why hasn't the tenant's identity been made public? How much rent will they pay Herb Simon? Incredibly, CIB officials could not answer whether this new facility to be owned by the Pacers will be subject to property taxes. The Indiana Constitution mandates it be taxed, but it also mandates that property taxes be paid on Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker's Life Fieldhouse since both facilities are occupied and operated exclusively for for-profit businesses but property taxes are not paid on either of those facilities. You see, in Indiana, if you're a billionaire sports team owner, none of the laws that apply to ordinary citizens apply to you.
The rationale for this latest giveaway is the same at it's always been. All NBA teams are owned by billionaires just like Herb Simon, who by their nature are the most greedy, selfish reptiles known to mankind. Their spokesman feeds us this meme about how we are dealing with "elite, elite athletes who require state-of-the-art facilities" and good basketball players come from colleges with "incredible state-of-the-art facilities." In other words, the existing practice courts and training facilities in the Fieldhouse don't measure up anymore. All the other NBA teams are building new, state-of-the-art practice facilities and we've got to keep up with them in order to remain competitive; otherwise, Herb will take his team elsewhere. If there was anyone ever at the table negotiating for taxpayers, these BS arguments wouldn't get anywhere. But our negotiators are always on Herb's payroll so we get the deal he wants no matter how bad it is for us. The Indianapolis Star, predictably, gives a pro-Pacer view of the project without disclosing the fact the woman who runs the newspaper is married to the man who runs Pacers Sports & Entertainment:
Taxpayers won’t foot the bill for any of a new $50 million practice facility being planned by the Indiana Pacers, city officials said Monday . . .
Larry DeGaris, professor of sports marketing at the University of Indianapolis, said “there is an element of truth to the keeping up with the Joneses argument.”
“Even colleges now have palaces to practice in,” he said.
But DeGaris said the Pacers may also be eyeing the facility as a big money-maker off the court. The top floor of the proposed building would be a space for an outside tenant, whom Benner wouldn’t identity.Fellow blogger Pat Andrew makes a good point about the 40-year length of the rent-free ground lease for the CIB property, noting the Pacers would only commit to remain in Indianapolis for a period of 15 years (9 years remaining) after the CIB enticed them with an additional $200 million in incentive payments. At the end of the 40-year term of the lease, the CIB would own the building unless the Pacers opted to up the agreement for an additional 10 years, in which case it would not become the property of the CIB until 50 years into the future. So what happens to this new building if the Pacers walk at the end of the current 15-year agreement? The CIB can buy back what Herb Simon in reality built with our taxpayer dollars for the market value of the property with the improvements. And you can take it to the bank that contrary to what is being represented to the public the CIB will be billed for any extraordinary expenses related to the upkeep of this new building, just like it always was with Banker's Life Fieldhouse until the Pacers were able to offload all of those expenses for maintaining and operating the Fieldhouse at the same time it slow-walked its way towards offering over $200 million in incentive payments to the greedy NBA team owner.
Word to Gov. Mike Pence. It doesn't help your street cred with conservatives that you utilize the same person the CIB relies upon for their press spokesman, particularly when the person scoffs at all of the conservatives in your party.
UPDATE: So the tenant heretofore not identified is St. Vincent, which will have medical offices in the building. I suppose that's Herb Simon's way of trying to cast the entire project as public/nonprofit use to convince the assessor the property shouldn't be taxed. They're even naming the building The St. Vincent Center.
The 130,000 square-foot St. Vincent Center will be built in a pie-shaped space on Delaware Street immediately east of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and adjacent to the Virginia Avenue Parking Garage. The space is currently an employee parking lot.
“I am thrilled that St. Vincent is going to be providing ease of access to high-quality care for those living, working and visiting our great city,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “St. Vincent Center will be another important piece of the development in that growing area of downtown.”
“St. Vincent is a tremendous partner and we are grateful for their continued support of our franchises. The St. Vincent Center will allow for greater and more varied uses of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the future,” said PS&E President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson.
The St. Vincent Center will provide primary care, cardiovascular and sports performance services available for athletes and the general public. St. Vincent Sports Performance will offer sports medicine physicians, sports nutrition, sport & performance psychology, sports science and physical training, which the program currently offers to athletes of all ages ranging from middle school to professional.
Primary care services will also be available to the general public, including preventive care. Board-certified cardiologists will treat patients with cardiovascular disease while offering access to the nationally recognized comprehensive services, specialists, technology and compassionate care of St. Vincent.