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May 22, 2022

2/15/2009 6:56:00 PM
Stadium Tax Redux

Dee Bonner

If you've been following the news in the Indianapolis media during the past few weeks, you are aware that our nearby sports capital is awash in red ink.

On January 27, the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), the Indianapolis body that owns and oversees Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, and the Indiana Convention Center, revealed concerns about a projected $43 million annual operating deficit for those properties, plus an additional, one-time, $43 million payment for "unanticipated expenses" that's due in September.

The bulk of the annual deficit ($20 million) is projected for Lucas Oil Stadium. To refresh your memory, that's the same stadium Shelby County and five other "Doughnut Counties" that surround Marion County helped finance with a 1% Food and Beverage Tax.

As you'll recall, Governor Mitch Daniels insisted the state take over construction and financing of the stadium, then barnstormed the doughnut counties four years ago and hosted private "caucuses" with local Republican officials in an effort to convince county officials to pass the Food and Beverage Tax.

As a result, Indianapolis has a "Dream Home" for its cherished NFL Colts. The original cost estimate for Lucas Oil Stadium was $600 million. However the final cost was closer to $720 million, of which, Colts owner Jim Irsay paid $100 million. Of course, the total figure includes a retractable roof that can be opened during the summertime when the Colts don't play games. Or during a summer drought. Or, I suppose anytime there's no rain in the forecast since nothing inside the stadium is waterproof.

Now we learn that Indianapolis officials neglected to include operating expenses for the new stadium in its budget estimates. That would be like you buying a house without determining the cost of your monthly utilities.

So even though we were told the new stadium would generate millions of dollars in additional revenue for the city and for Central Indiana, the CIB is scrambling to come up with more money for the stadium. They claim "nothing is off the table" and are floating ideas like adopting new user fees, raising hospitality taxes, increasing the Food and Beverage Tax, and opening a casino in Downtown Indianapolis.

Obviously, an increase in the Food and Beverage Tax or a new casino in downtown Indy would have significant impact on citizens of Shelby County. I haven't seen anything in our local media about the issue, so I'll try to keep you informed, or at least provide you with links to the newspapers that are following developments.

In the meantime, I have reworked a number of cartoons that were originally published in 2005 while the stadium financing controversy was raging. You'll see them on my Home Page for the next several days, afterwards they'll be archived in the 'Toon Tomb Section. Keep in mind that I'm not claiming any psychic abilities. I'm no clairvoyant. I have no special sixth sense. And I'm not saying "I Told You So", but dammit, some of those cartoons are almost prescient. Enjoy.

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 15, 2009
Article comment by: Alfred E. Neuman

I'm still waiting for the City of Indianapolis to announce it is going to tax its eat-outers so that the shelter for battered women can be finished here in Shelbyville before the next Ice Age.

And...maybe Irsay and My Millionaire Mitch can throw in a few bucks to pay for used blankets for the 200 homeless individuals we have living here in our "donut" county.

I seldom eat out in Shelbyville/Shelby County because thinking about this "donut county" (read: we were all sold out, right here in Shelby by our local politicians!) tax for a football stadium 30 miles away is hard on my appetite.

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