Op-Ed: Pacer ‘Success’ Needs Qualification

April 16, 2017

by Fred McCarthy

One hundred sixty million dollars — that’s how much the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) three years ago agreed to hand the Pacers basketball team over a period of 10 years, supposedly for operation and maintenance of the field house.

There are still seven years to go on that bounty. Just last year, the CIB approved the use of $2.8 million of that annual gift for converting parts of the field house to plush surroundings for upper echelon fans.

And this morning’s paper tells us the team owner wants a “major redo” of the field house for “what he needs for a long-term commitment to Indianapolis.” He’s asking for a new lease to be approved. The reader should keep in mind that the current lease is for $1 per year, with the Pacers retaining all basketball and non-basketball revenues.

Astonishingly — well, not really — the CIB president takes no offense at this re-introduction of extortion into demands for public money by a private, for-profit business, to wit, if you want me to commit to stay in Indianapolis, hand over the dough.

No dollar amounts are mentioned but we have a warning about what is ahead: It will be more of the same outrageous disregard for the beaten-down taxpayer who will never be able to afford to see the inside of the field house.

The situation is best summed up by a quote from the CIB president herself, the last paragraph of the article: “I suspect that in the near term we will probably want to hear more about what his (the team owner’s) vision is and how to ensure their continued long-term success.”

Success? Subsidy of the team began in 1974 with the construction of Market Square Arena. That is 43 years of inability to make a profit and the need to sponge off the taxpayer.

Fred McCarthy, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, represented various taxpayer and business organizations before the Indiana General Assembly for 40 years, being awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash by two governors along the way.


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