Thursday, March 06, 2008

RCA Dome Outrage: Irsay Allowed To Loot Taxpayers' Stadium

As if Jim Irsay hasn't hauled off enough of our taxpayer dollars for his precious Colts team, he's now being permitted to loot the remnants of the RCA Dome scheduled to be demolished. You built the stadium with your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and maintained it all of these years. Doesn't it belong to you? Not according to our CIB, which continues its long tradition of representing the interest of team owners like Jim Irsay and the Simon family over the public's interest. A Star editorial takes issues with the CIB's decision to allow Irsay to pocket money from sale of RCA Dome memorabilia for his own foundation:

Football fans -- and fans of basketball, marching bands and monster trucks for that matter -- can own a piece of nostalgia beginning March 10 when the innards of the doomed RCA Dome go up for online auction.

Pursuing romance will require finance. Sample prices: $450 for a pair of seats, $195 for an aisle sign, $60 to $1,000 for a chunk of turf, depending on its markings.

Memorabilia buffs can find out all about it on, because the Dome's premier tenant is the seller. More precisely, the Indianapolis Colts Foundation and the Indiana Sports Corp., two private nonprofits, are running the sale and pocketing the proceeds.

What's that, you say? Shouldn't the landlord -- that is, the taxpaying public -- keep that pile of money, inasmuch as the public paid for the stadium and legally owns everything in it?

Good question. The short answer from John Klipsch, executive director of the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority, is that the memorabilia were deemed to have no value except in association with the Colts, and the team owns the marketing rights to its image. Other stuff, such as copper wiring, is coveted as salvage by the demolition contractor and thus has served to keep his $3.5 million bid from going higher, saving taxpayers in that regard. Some Dome materials, Klipsch adds, are being recycled for use in Lucas Oil Stadium.

All of which is small consolation to a community facing severe cuts in public services along with two cost overruns so far for Lucas, whose $700 million-plus price is all tax dollars except for $100 million combined from the Colts and the National Football League. The team's owners say the higher-than-projected construction cost and $10 million annual increase in operating expense are none of their problem, just as stadium sponsorships that could surpass the $200 million mark are none of the public's to partake in.

Such is the deal the city and state have struck in return for keeping a priceless entertainment attraction in town, officials insist. Taxpayers would argue that the deal has undergone frequent interpretation, the latest example being the dismissal of the NCAA Final Four, various superstar rock concerts and countless other non-football events in the RCA Dome as sources of lucrative sentimental value.

While there's little if any choice in the matter, questioners of "Sacred Blue" are finding it more and more difficult to just get over it. Now comes a fire sale that will yield $13.5 million for the seats alone if it meets its goal. With all due respect to the good work done by the two foundations, those private entities are staking claim to a windfall profit from a public investment.

Their play should be flagged for further review.

Adding further insult to injury is the fact taxpayers are now stuck trying to figure out how to foot a $10 million minimum annual tab for maintaining and operating the new Lucas Oil Stadium because the CIB sold out taxpayer interests and gave it to Irsay rent free. And construction bonds on the new stadium are set to jump to double-digit interest rates soon because the building authority foolishly gambled in the auction bond market which melted down recently, leaving state and local government entities across the country scrambling to refinance their debt. Sooner or later, folks are going to figure out that we can't afford this new stadium or the high maintenance costs of ensuring super wealth status for Colts' owner Jim Irsay


Anonymous said...

Nice job Peterson. No wonder he left town so quick. Won't that be a nice place during the depression to have a soup line.


Anonymous said...

Bart Peterson didn't leave town. Geeeesh. How many Bloodies have you had this morning?

Klipsch's answer sucks.

But, having said that, the charity not-for-profit angle is nice. How about the Salvation Army, or Wheeler Mission, getting the proceeds?

Each of those charities has a demonstrated need and an excellent track record of furgality and service.

Anonymous said...

Get you info right! This is not the CIB or the city! This is the stadium building authority that is run by Mitch Daniels! It is the state! The state eliminated the operational expenses from the budget. The state is demolishing the RCA dome and deciding what happens with the proceeds. Please check your facts before blaming people!

Gary R. Welsh said...

You get your facts straight. The CIB built and owns the RCA Dome, not the stadium finance authority. Further, the state made it clear when it passed the legislation authorizing new taxes to be levied over the region to finannce this new stadium that revenues could not be used for maintenance and operating costs. This was to avoid this situation with the RCA Dome where we are tearing down a building after nearly 25 years upon which we owe about what it cost to build $75 million--because the CIB diverted revenues elsewhere instead of paying down the debt. The CIB chose not to ask Irsay to pick up these costs, figuring it would create a crisis situation on down the road whereby the state would have no other choice than to grant them authority to divert the money. This was another pot of money that's being diverted away to speed up that looming crisis.

Anonymous said...

They really take us for fools. Don't you see what's happening here. This is a way of saying we aren't using public monies to finance the Super Bowl bid. You wait, this money will flow back in to finance the Super Bowl costs a few years down the road. Mark my word.

Anonymous said...

We build it and pay for it. Jim Irsay gets to sell the value left of it before its torn down and put it into his foundation. He later makes donations to the community and we're told to thank him for being so generous. Funny form of charity, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The Indianapolis Colts Foundation is not the Indianapolis Colts. Just like the Lilly Foundation is not Eli Lilly, Inc. The site also mentions that "a portion"
of the proceeds is going to the foundation. I presume a fair chunk of it is going into the CIB bank account.

$450 is too much to pay for a couple seats, they will never sell them all at that price. Wait for the price to come down and get them way cheaper.

The stadium belongs to the citizens of Indiana, NOT TAXPAYERS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've given up getting upset about this kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

"The stadium belongs to the citizens of Indiana, NOT TAXPAYERS!!!!!"

The citizens are the taxpayers!!!

Anonymous said...

While you guys are pissing about who is to blame (and it is BOTH the Guv and former Mayor, again your partisan politics blind you), the main point is that the Irsays have yet again found a way to avoid easing the burden on taxpayers. But that is to be expected when we let tax-payer subsidized sporting teams threaten us with leaving.

Wake up, lemmings! Nothing is changing! Ballard is just as lazy and ineffective as Bart!

Anonymous said...

Jim Irsey should be required to put millions into the ICVA and the Sports Corp to promote the city and fill our stadiums and convention center with paying customers.

Anonymous said...

How about we use the monies from the sale of the crap and pay down a couple of million on the 75 million we as taxpayers still on the damn dome.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that once Daniels was elected one of the first things he did was try to damage Peterson by forcing him to turn over the stadium negotiations. He forced Peterson and his team out of the picture and took over the entire package.

It's Daniels fault we're in the mess we're in. Something to consider in November.

Anonymous said...

FYI - The Building Authority is Mitch Daniels.

Anonymous said...

sacre bleu! is right

Anonymous said...

What they should be doing is setting up the beginnings of a maintenance fund with the proceeds from any so-called memorabilia in order to at least be able to handle the first year of maintenance. Then the $25 million that supposedly was raised for a Super Bowl bid should be added to that maintenance fund. Then maybe eventually after they figure out how to handle future operating and maintnenance issues, they an begin talking about wasting money on a Superbowl bid that will enventually cost the city money and provide no tangible benefits.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. When the recession is in full swing, the added space to the convention center can now be quickly converted to more jail space.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:18:
Duh yourself!

A Bengals fan buys a ticket to a Colts game. He pays 5% tax on his ticket. He is a taxpayer. He iS not a citizen of Indiana. THE STADIUM IS NOT HIS!

A San Diego Chargers fan gets a hotel room in Marion County. He pays tax on his hotel room. He is a taxpayer. He is not a citizen of Indiana. THE STADIUM IS NOT HIS!

A Japanese businessman rents a car in Marion County. He pays tax on the rental car. He is a taxpayer. He is not a citizen of Indiana. THE STADIUM IS NOT HIS!!

Anonymous said...

They shouldn't even be tearing down the dome. It is a perfectly good building and they should rennovate our something not tear it down.