Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Indiana Motor Sports Commission Approves $90.5 Million In IMS Improvements

During the 2013 legislative session, Indiana lawmakers authorized the state to issue up to $100 million to finance improvements to the Hulman-George-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which they say are needed at the track to remain competitive, and which they cannot afford to make without taxpayer assistance. More than 18 months had passed since Gov. Mike Pence signed that legislation into law and appointed members to a newly-established Motor Sports Commission without any action on approving any finalized plans to put in motion the process of issuing bonds to pay for the improvements until this week.

Advance Indiana has obtained a copy of a resolution the Indiana Motor Sports Commission approved at a hastily-called meeting held yesterday afternoon. Through the adoption of the resolution, the Commission gave its blessings to the Indiana Finance Authority moving forward with the issuance of bonds to support at least $90.5 million in improvements at the IMS. The largest expenditure is for seating improvements estimated to cost $32 million, which are not scheduled to be completed until the 2016 running of the Indianapolis 500. The plan also calls for technology improvements costing $20.5 million, fan experience improvements costing $16.5 million and track and facility improvements costing $19 million. Some of those improvements were already undertaken by the IMS in 2014, including a new scoring pylon and road course improvements.

Improvements slated to be done by the end of this year include concession and restroom improvements and new fencing. Most of the improvements are slated for completion sometime in 2016. Those include: penthouse and suite renovations; fan entertainment deck; new video boards; WiFi installation; Pagoda Plaza improvements and expansion; Georgetown Road Gateway & Plaza improvements at Turns 1 and 4; looking-branding and way-finding; parking improvements; and Victory Circle & Media Center renovation. Several other projects are dependent on the availability of bond proceeds, including: South Vista Entertainment Deck; North Carousel; Tower Terrace suite remodel; additional WiFi; expanded Georgetown Road Plaza and improved pedestrian flow and other unidentified facility improvements.

Interestingly, none of the identified improvements say anything about ADA compliance. You may recall that former U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett entered the act before the IMS went to the legislature seeking approval of a $100 million public subsidy by announcing he had pulled off the shelf a dusty ADA lawsuit filed by Indianapolis attorney Greg Fehribach more than a decade ago and announced a settlement agreement he had reached with the IMS under which it agreed to make improvements to make the track ADA compliant and to pay a fee to Fehribach for very little work on the long dormant case. People who attend the track annually knew improvements had been made over the years to satisfy ADA requirements, but it made for good made-up press at the time to set the stage for later events. Also missing from the plan are the addition of any track lights. Speedway officials said at the time it needed to spend millions on new lighting in order that the Brickyard 400 could become a night race because its summertime schedule made temperatures too hot for fans to weather the race. IMS officials told the Motorsports Commission last year when they unveiled their preliminary plans it had decided not to add lighting to the track.

State officials claim taxes paid by the IMS will cover the cost of the debt service on the bonds issued to make the improvements, which is being funded in large part through a new 10% ticket tax paid by fans on the purchase price of their tickets. The IMS is supposedly a losing proposition so you can't pay state income taxes on a business that's not making any money, right? Sales taxes generated by the IMS would be insignificant. As I previously reported, federal tax laws obtained by the wealthy track owners allow them to write off capital improvements that make to their tracks over a 7-year period, another fact our useless sports-happy media neglected to discuss when this huge public subsidy was being discussed. The IMS says taxes it generates annually will amount to at least $5 million a year to cover debt service on the bonds.

Here is a breakdown of proposed $90.5 million in track improvements:

-Penthouse renovations
-Suite renovations
-Fan Entertainment Deck
     $32.0 Million

2nd Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
-Video Boards
-Scoring Pylon
     $20.5 Million

2nd Quarter 2016
3rd Quarter 2014
2nd Quarter 2016
Fan Experience
-Concession improvements
-Restroom improvements
-Pagoda Plaza improvements
-Georgetown Road Gateways
-Look-Branding & Way-Finding
     $16.5 Million

4th Quarter 2015
4th Quarter 2015
2nd Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
Track & Facility Improvements
-Road Course
-Parking improvements
-Victory Circle & Media Center
     $19.0 Million

2nd Quarter 2014
4th Quarter 2015
2nd Quarter 2016
2nd Quarter 2016
Pre-Construction Costs
     $2.5 Million

The list of pay-to-play contractors being cut in on the improvements at the IMS include: Browning; Hunt Construction Group; CSO Architects; Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects; Populous; AJP; and American Structure Point. The law firms getting a cut of the bond work include Barnes & Thornburg and Bingham Greenebaum Doll.


Anonymous said...

Did you notify Field of Schemes of this excellent blog post?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Anon 8:43, ANOTHER excellent blog post by the author who should be Indianapolis mayor.

Herein is an excellent explanation of why I- and many like me- no longer call myself a "Republican", why I no longer automatically voted for every "Republican" on a ticket, why I now refuse to register to vote at my brand new Marion County residence address (and thus refusing to waste my time voting at all), and why people like me are leaving a party that acts like the extremist liberal Democrats more interested in their own careers and financial welfare under the false label of "caring for the down-trodden".

Pete Boggs said...

As they run principle centered Republicans out of Marion County, the "left behind" will pay more to play, in the escalating fashion of fascism; as their hired zombies roam other jurisdictions spreading viral statism, in the form of regional taxing / transit authorities, etc.

Anonymous said...

Just for reference it's "road course" as opposed to "road coarse".

Anonymous said...

Quote: I now refuse to register to vote at my brand new Marion County residence address (and thus refusing to waste my time voting at all) Unquote.

My viewpoint on this: If you don't vote, don't bitch.

Eric Morris said...

Anon @ 11:39. Sorry, by playing the contrived game of voting, you don't have the right to complain. You speak when they let you through the anonymous and pointless ballot box. If your hero loses, all you can do is shrug your shoulders and say that's how the system works. Since we informed non-voters don't believe in the system at all, we can complain 24/7/365.