Friday, September 01, 2006

Kenley Stands Firm On Stadium Funding

State Sen. Luke Kenley (R), one of the primary authors of legislation creating the stadium authority to fund the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, tells reporters today that the city must pay the costs for operating the new stadium. The Star writes:

State Sen. Luke Kenley repeated his insistence today that the city should be responsible for day-to-day operating costs of the new Lucas Oil Stadium.

In a news conference at the Statehouse, Kenley, R-Noblesville, said his understanding when the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the stadium last year was that the state would cover only construction costs. Kenley was a primary architect of the legislation, and counties surrounding Indianapolis also were asked to collect sales taxes to help fund the stadium.

He said he told stadium officials then, "If you need statutory authority to develop a (local) revenue source, I'm more than happy to do that."

Last week, Fred Glass, head of the Capital Improvement Board -- which will operate the stadium -- said the facility's maintenance and other operating expenses could bankrupt his organization. Lucas Oil Stadium will be nearly twice as large as the RCA Dome, and CIB officials estimate its annual operating costs at $10 million more.

Kenley declined today to say what options the city might have at its disposal, but the General Assembly could authorize local taxes or other fees. Glass has said the only plan that would work currently is to use money left over after debt payments on construction are made -- an option the legislature rejected last year.

Kenley clears up a misconception that the state somehow or another screwed up the funding. Kenley makes it clear that the issue was addressed at the time of the legislation's passage, and that the solution, if needed, would be to grant the city additional authority to levy a separate tax or fees for this purpose. City officials then had the choice to consider whether they wanted to impose new additional taxes or fees on city taxpayers, or renegotiate the terms of the lease with Colts' owner Jim Irsay. Obviously, city officials prefer making taxpayers pay more. Let's hear Mayor Peterson make the case for this argument in next year's mayoral election.

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