Pacers owner prepares to add renovation demand atop $380m in prior subsidies, because he can

Indiana Pacers execs are once again talking about going back to the trough for yet another helping of public cash to help them, you know, make more money. The Indianapolis Business Journal reported over the weekend on how the Pacers’ publicly built and then publicly subsidized some more via “operating subsidies” Bankers Life Fieldhouse is doing in terms of booking concerts (better!) and in terms of making money on those concert bookings (they won’t say, and don’t have to, because they’re a private company and their lease doesn’t require them to report it!), before noting that:

Pacers officials are in the early stages of talking to CIB about improvements to the fieldhouse—although they haven’t specified what they want or how much it will cost. Some city officials have speculated the team will want to add more social gathering spaces and modernize the building…

[City officials] admit any renovation would certainly cost in the tens of millions of dollars. The fieldhouse cost $183 million to construct.

[Pacers president Rick] Fuson said it’s too early to determine a timeline or cost estimate on potential improvements. But he predicted that upgrades will help PS&E retain and draw more non-Pacers/non-Fever events as well as enhance the draw for Pacers and Fever games.

And then an IBJ editorial cited Pacers owner Herb Simon’s statement earlier this year that he wants a “major redo” of the arena, which sounds like it could be more than tens of millions of dollars.

The Pacers, to recap briefly, have been one of the most successful teams in sports history to turn an arena deal into the gift that keeps on giving, starting with $187 million to construct the building in the first place in 1999, then following it up with $33 million in subsidies to help pay to run the arena from 2010 to 2013, then another $160 million from 2014 through 2023, plus $3.5 million for a new roof to replace one that leaked, plus probably a few more sundries I haven’t kept track of along the way. And, because former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith is an idiot who wrote a terrible lease (or employed idiots who did so, anyway), Simon will once again in 2024 be free to threaten to take the Pacers elsewhere if he doesn’t get more taxpayer boodle.

One hopes that the increased concert revenue — all of which goes to the Pacers owners, because why would Indianapolis have asked for any of that in exchange for $380 million worth of public spending, right? — would help provide leverage for the city to tell Simon he should pay for a large chunk of his own damn arena costs, since he’s doing well now and he’s the only one who’d profit from any improvements anyway. But then, there’s that little problem that the Pacers only need to report revenues, not profits, so there’s no way for the city to do that. You think it’d be okay to rate Goldsmith without actually taking his Harvard course? Because some Pacers fans might want to say some things about him.


4 comments on “Pacers owner prepares to add renovation demand atop $380m in prior subsidies, because he can

  1. Is it really necessary for educational institutions to hire instructors who have failed miserably in their alleged fields? Is this done in the name of “balance”?

    In the district I grew up in, the government leader simply looted the treasury in his first term, then bribed the voters with their own money to re-elect him (he looked as surprised as anyone when they did). When he was finally booted out of office (destroying the party he lead in the process), he was hired by the local university to teach economics…

    Perhaps it’s not so strange that we have both the politicians and economists (in some cases) we do today… many of them appear to have learned from the worst possible examples.

  2. I wonder if it would work to the city’s advantage to just let the Pacers go, then take control of the arena. Concerts and college/high school basketball could provide quite a few dates. Probably still a money loser, but maybe less so than acting as the Pacer Piggy Bank.

  3. Indy is a tourist town. An atrium (or other “gathering places”) is a greater help to the city than to the team because it helps draw and retain events that out-of-towners come in for.

    If Simon asks for money to re-do the boxes or add club seats, then there’s a better argument that the renovations would be benefitting the team more than the city.

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