In a rather unexpected turn of events, Ersal Ozdemir lost one of his biggest supporters of a publicly-financed soccer stadium for his Indy Eleven minor league soccer team. Last year, Indianapolis Star political columnist Matt Tully was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon when Ozdemir's team of powerful lobbyists hit the State House hallways pushing for a nearly $90 million stadium before the team has played its first game. A couple of weeks ago, Tully penned another column supporting the plan, although he conceded his support for the stadium deal last year was a bit premature, a fact he blamed on the drugs he was taking for a recent injury he had suffered. Today, he does the unlikely. He did an about face and pulled his support for it, now admitting the sales pitch of Ozdemir's lobbyists doesn't add up.
Tully pinpoints the moment he pulled his support for the plan when the bill's sponsor, Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), asked members of the House Ways & Means Committee to adopt an amendment to the bill adding revenues generated by an unrelated hotel being developed by Ozdemir in downtown Indianapolis to the mix of revenues that would be relied upon for the stadium's financing. "That development in the stadium debate was troublesome both because it threatens tax revenue that could fund other projects and needs, and because it contradicts the long-stated promise of stadium backers that only those who use the stadium would pay taxes on it," Tully writes. "If you don't go, you won't pay a penny. Or so went the sales pitch."
Tully also offers other reasons for his newfound skepticism, all points raised by this blog. He says the idea of requiring the team's owner to back part of the financial debt sounds great, but he concludes as I do that if the revenues relied upon prove insufficient, the taxpayers could still be on the hook if the team goes under like the last minor league soccer team. Like me, he finds something wrong with the fact that a lawmaker from Fishers whose constituents aren't shouldering financial responsibility for the stadium is the bill's lead sponsor. He also now concedes that relying on the team's first-year attendance figures is likely not a good idea. A wait and see approach might be a better idea. He said that view was bolstered when the team's leaders argued to the Star's editorial board that a new stadium was critical to sustaining the team's popularity. If the team's support is here to stay, Tully doesn't think its support should rest on having "a larger and glitzier stadium." Even better, Tully thinks other options should be considered, such as improvements to Carroll Stadium where the team is now playing, which would cost much less.
"So, yes, I'm officially off the new stadium bandwagon," Tully writes. "For now. It's taken me a long time to get here, but, to quote a friend who used to work in the mayor's office," something just doesn't seem right about this plan." It doesn't really matter how he arrived at that opinion. It's just refreshing to read a column he's written upon which we agree.
Tully - is one of the worst reporters at the Star. No solid fact checking at all in his "articles" (or advertorials). His articles are one sided, and he takes the woe is me, I'm for the little man approach. Great job backtracking on this Tully.
It is important to me that Tully did not write he opposed the Stadium because it will be Corporate Welfare via the tax payers. He does not say once in the article that the owner or any other investors should finance the Sucker Stadium at their own financial risk.
The City or the State should not be the financial backstop for this project. What the Indy Eleven want is in essence for the tax payers to Cosign on a loan.
It is bothersome in the extreme, that Tully and his fellow travelers on the Corporate Welfare-Crony Capitalism Train do not acknowledge the inherent discrimination to other businesses in these schemes. What I mean by this is Paul the Plumber or Carl the Carpenter pays full freight on taxes and receives no tax subsidies or loans.
You would think the Business Associations would be up in arms at this blatant favoritism. As the song goes some get the Goldmine but most of us get the shaft.
I have to believe that Tully is a stealth reader of Advance Indiana and that the overabundance of facts presented by Gary Welsh on this topic finally penetrated liberal Tully's thick skull.
I suspect Tully is aware of other facts that may cause this well-laid plan to blow up and embarrass a lot of people taken in by Ozdemir and is trying to extricate himself from it ever so gently before the proverbial s_ _ _ hits the fan.
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