They're a little bit too late to the game as usual. The Indianapolis Star posted a story late today that sort of touches on the fact that the last soccer stadium deal the Indy Eleven's Peter Wilt sold to a community was a colossal failure. Advance Indiana told readers last year about Wilt's Toyota Park stadium deal before he got fired by the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team and how its utter failure to live up to the promised expectations caused tax rates in Chicago's Bridgeview community to skyrocket after Wilt and Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir's team of high-paid lobbyists descended on the State House to coax easily duped state lawmakers into approving public financing for the minor league soccer team's nearly $90 million, 18,500-seat soccer stadium. Every single media organization in Indianapolis ignored the albatross Wilt left behind with his last soccer stadium deal.
The Star's Mark Alesia in a story titled, "Last Stadium sold by Indy Eleven President has been financial drain," acknowledges what a "financial albatross" Toyota Park has become for Bridgeview residents without going into any detail other than to mention the city's bond rating was lowered due to the financial stress the under-performing soccer stadium was placing on the city's financial picture. Wilt had plenty of excuses for why nobody should pay any attention to Toyota Park. He wants people to know he had moved on by the time the stadium opened for business, but he's the one who was on the ground selling it when the decision was made to build it, which was developed by AEG, a giant sports and entertainment company that manages sports and convention facilities all over the country. He also wants you to believe that this stadium deal is "so dissimilar to the Indianapolis situation that it should be taken with a salt shaker full of salt." Yeah, Bridgeview sits smack dab in the middle of the nation's third largest metropolitan area with an immigrant population ten times the size of Indianapolis' which favors soccer as the sport of choice over football, baseball or basketball.
The most telling admission by Wilt is his reference to the backstop Indianapolis will have to prevent a downgrading of the City's bond rating. "If Bridgeview had the same (financial) backstop that is being proposed for Indianapolis, Bridgeview's Standard & Poor's rating would be fine," Wilt said. He can say that because he's relying on the full faith and credit of the Capital Improvement Board of Managers, which has a host of tax revenues to fund an endless demand for additional spending on sports and entertainment facilities downtown, as well as a healthy annual subsidy of state tax dollars flowing through the Professional Sports Development Area, which the Indy Eleven want expanded to include the new soccer stadium, as well as a new hotel Ozdemir is establishing in the old Illinois Building at the corner of Market and Illinois Streets.
The bill is on second reading in the House where a bunch of amendments have been filed. Alesia's story mentions that State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) has an amendment that would require Ozdemir to guarantee half of the debt issued to build the new stadium. State Rep. Cherish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) has offered an amendment that would require the City-County Council to approve the issuance of bonds. An amendment offered by State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis), one of the bill's sponsors, would appear to pull in land of the former GM Stamping Plant where the proposed criminal justice center is proposed to be built and where Dave Lucas wants to build a new outdoor music venue. That might suggest Lucas and Ozdemir have formed an alliance in hell to push this deal through the legislature.
I didn't figure the Star would do any investigative journalism on Ozdemir and his shady dealings, but I expected more from the IBJ. Mickey Maurer has obviously called off his attack dogs. Their reporting on this stadium deal has been as useless as the Star's reporting.
Sounds like there are a few Indy area reps interested in tanking this. Considering the rest of the state hates that central Indiana is always first in line when it comes to state spending - I'm thinking and hoping reps outside Indy are thinking of tanking this too.
CIB bonds are ultimately backed by the state. Ratings are based on the state's overall ability to pay, similar to an individual applying for a home mortgage. And believe it or not, overall debt service as a percentage of taxes and household income in this state and city are relatively low. Even Indy is AAA rated. Scary, isn't it?
I don't care what phony revenue sources they come up with - ticket taxes and the like will not come close to covering debt service and the rest gets taken off state and local tax rolls. Just like TIF districts the rest of us will pay more in taxes to make up the difference.
Stop the madness! This team has played ONE SEASON! Soccer in the US is, was and always will be a second-tier sport. Attendance numbers for MLS teams in cities larger than Indy are much lower!
Are the high-paid prostitutes working the downtown hotels this week to help with this vote?
"I'm thinking and hoping reps outside Indy are thinking of tanking this too."
Nah. There's enough arm twisting and the promise of something better later to get the rural reps to go along with Indy.
Could the boundary change - to include the former GM stamping plant - signify a deal between Lucas and Ozdemir to combine projects?
Delaney's asking for a "guarantee" on half the debt is a farce. He wants the TEAM to guarantee it, not Ozdemir. If the debt goes south, Ozdemir can just fold the team and walk away.
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