Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tully Presents Star Readers With False Choice On More Subsidies For Pacers

It's getting really old. Every time one of the billionaire owners of one of our professional sports teams demands more public subsidies we are told that the alternative if we don't offer the subsidy is losing the franchise. That's a false choice and those who claim so know better. That doesn't stop the Star's Matthew Tully from offering that reaction once again to Herb Simon's latest request for another $21 million for his Indiana Pacers.
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.


Anonymous said...

I will never quite understand what Tully's qualifications are meant to be. He almost always argues in favor of whatever big spending project is coming down the pipeline. To his credit he backed away from the light rail boondoggle, though not before a lot of hemming and hawing from qualified experts/and the public.

Why can't Indianapolis be something other than a sports franchise haven? Why can't we focus on defining our fundamentals as education and infrastructure, transparency...and why if we focus on those things do they have to make some campaign contributor a slimy profit?

Flogger said...

I wonder if Tully believes what he writes or he writes what is expected to keep his job. Going back in time to the Pulliam Ownership Corporate Welfare for Billionaire Owners of Sports Teams was never questioned.

If the pattern holds true once the Pacers Pocket their cash, the Colts will be knocking at the Corporate Welfare Door.

We will probably have some guest Columnist in The Star that is a front man or woman for Corporate Welfare pen a column that will chock full of bogus economic conclusions on the value of Professional Sports. They probably invoke the other Red Herring of how we risk losing our status as World Class City if the Pacers leave.

I say give Peoria a chance to be a world class city and let the Pacers move there.

Guest said...

It is mainly the lousy desperate contracts the city signs with the Pacers and the Colts. Why should they keep the earnings from other events in the arenas that we the taxpayers paid for. We should at least get that payback for our tax dollars. How about some hardball from the city and state, then we could at least have self respect.

Anonymous said...

A lack of sports teams is the main reason why Austin is failing, has a depressed economy, nobody is moving there and it has a poor reputation among young graduates as a relocation destination.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Guest, You assume there are honest politicians to play hardball. Greg Ballard, the candidate, said he was going to play hardball with the sports team owners. As soon as he got elected, he started enjoying all the free tickets, campaign contributions and other assorted goodies given to him, his wife and family by them and had a complete change of heart. Ditto the majority of the city council members, anyone appointed to the CIB, the governor, state lawmakers, you name them. Their votes can be bought for the right price. Until prosecutors get serious about enforcing bribery and honest services fraud laws, there's no disincentive not to play ball with the corrupt sports team owners. They joke among themselves about how easy it is to buy support from local politicians.

guy77money said...

Here's my thought lets become the Gaming Capital of the World! Set aside a large part of the convention center with luxury gaming centers (comfy chairs, large high def monitors, mini frigs, high speed internet,etc) and book XBOX, PS2 and computer gaming tournaments. If done right you could book tournaments year round. Since every age group and demographic plays games it would bring in thousands of people to pack Indy hotels and restaurants. It would cost a fraction to what we are giving the Colts and the Pacers. Weather wouldn't be a concern and gamers don't cause trouble when they come to town. Then we could promote the Children's Museum and the downtown public library for gamers with kids.

Unknown said...

Anonymous -
Please show us your proof for this statement:
"A lack of sports teams is the main reason why Austin is failing, has a depressed economy, nobody is moving there and it has a poor reputation among young graduates as a relocation destination."
Thank you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I believe anonymous was being facetious given that Austin has no professional sports team but has performed economically much better than Indianapolis.