Super Bowl Costs: Will We Ever Know?

February 7, 2012

For immediate release (622 words).

Will we ever know the cost of “the Game” to the taxpaying citizens of Indianapolis? We ask the question because, even the day after, we are getting confusing reports in the media about the dollars involved.

A couple of weeks ago we got a statement from the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), with some numbers at least estimated, that their part of the operation suffered a loss of something over $800,000.

A significant part of this was the deal made with the National Football League (NFL) forgiving most of the taxes everyone else pays for this kind of event, that and allowing the NFL to refuse to pay for any extra costs involved with public safety. We were not treated to any information as to how this last loss would be handled.

Today’s issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal carries two stories starting on the front page:

The obvious question to is: Was the village operation responsible for the $8-million-dollar budget overrun? Further, can the expenditure be justified?

Our guess would be, particularly since the weather turned chilly and damp on Saturday after actual game-going visitors started arriving in numbers, that a good percentage of the attendees at the “Village” were locals, making any economic impact insignificant. Yes, it was a successful party but may one wonder whether Indianapolis, or any municipality for that matter, should be in the business of giving multi-million dollar parties.

We’re going to hear for weeks — or months — about the terrific benefit to the city of this past week’s activities. But we already know that taxpayers have been hit for nearly $21 million of the costs. That’s $800,000 for the CIB, $8 million for the host committee and $12 million for re-doing Georgia Street.

Yes, we know, the Georgia Street improvement is meant to be a permanent attraction for civic activities. But parties costing millions of tax dollars? And after all the current excitement dies, we’d suggest that most of the folks coming down that way will really be on their way to Union Station.

Of course, the $12 million was mostly federal money so we don’t have to worry about that (a little sarcasm there). It would be nice, though, to know which locally elected governmental body has approved, or will approve, the nearly $9 million already spent — to say nothing of what more is still unknown.

Fred McCarthy, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review and longtime president of the Indiana Manufacturers Association, edits the blog, Indy Tax Dollars.



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