Indiana bill would give $174m in tax kickbacks to minor-league soccer stadium, oh Indiana

That Indy Eleven soccer-stadium-plus-other-crap development project mentioned on Friday has state legislation to go with it now, and it includes a dollar figure for how much tax money would be kicked back to help pay for the stadium:

A plan to fund a soccer stadium for the Indy Eleven took shape in legislation Tuesday with a proposal that could capture up to $11 million annually in tax revenue to pay off the bonds for the $150 million outdoor arena…

The [Professional Sports Development Area] could capture up to $11 million in tax revenue per year for 32 years—money that would be paid by the businesses, residents and even athletes living or working at Eleven Park. That revenue would be diverted to the Capital Improvement Board—which would own the 20,000-seat stadium, but not the private development surrounding it—for the purpose of paying for the public infrastructure.

And here’s the bill, as introduced by state senators Jack Sandlin and Aaron Freeman. It specifies that the taxes to be redirected are not property taxes — as you’d see under traditional tax increment financing — but rather construction sales taxes and income taxes on anyone living or working within the special tax area, where the special tax area is as yet to be determined. So in essence, Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir wants to build a big development with a stadium in it, draw a line around some portion of it (or all of it, or all of it and then some), then say, “Okay, instead of paying income taxes to the state, everyone within that line pays income taxes to me instead.”

As for how much money this comes to, that’s easy to figure out with the help of our old friend the present value calculator: $11 million a year for 32 years, 5% estimated average interest rate, and we get — or rather Ozdemir gets: $174 million. For a stadium that would only cost $150 million to build. A minor-league stadium at that, unless Indy Eleven gains entry into MLS; and even then, it would still be close to the record set by D.C. United for the largest MLS stadium subsidy ever.

This is crazytown, but then, Indiana has a long track record of being crazytown when it comes to sports subsidies, having offered some of the most generous deals ever to the Colts and Pacers owners. Right now it’s only a state senate bill with two sponsors, but it definitely bears watching — even if you don’t live in Indiana or care about what that state does with its tax money, if this passes it would both raise the bar on what’s considered an acceptable soccer subsidy and open the door to a whole new world of income-tax kickbacks as a public funding scheme for private stadiums.

 


7 comments on “Indiana bill would give $174m in tax kickbacks to minor-league soccer stadium, oh Indiana

  1. I do not share the political beliefs of Ocasio-Cortez, but stuff like this and other tax giveaways like Amazon HQ2 is why one day she will be President ( maybe in 2024?). Why? It takes a person with strong beliefs and is willing to fight the establishment ( Democratic and Republican alike) to put a stop to these giveaways.

    • I thought AOC would still be too young in 2024 to run for president, but it turns out she turns 35 on 10/13/24, so just barely under the gun to qualify for Election Day.

  2. It’s probably been observed before… but when you’re planning a big heist, it’s appropriate to have your team share a name with Ocean’s Eleven.

  3. … even athletes paying for a stadium?

    What, has Charlie Comiskey risen or something?

  4. If they sold their team naming right to a chain of convince stars, the Indy 7-11, they could finance their own (much smaller) stadium. Well at the minimum some new aluminum bleachers, with chair backs, and an aisle down the middle.

  5. Just more of the same thing for those of us who live within spitting distance of downtown Indianapolis. The Pacers and Colts owners have been robbing us all in broad daylight for decades, and now we see this franchise, which routinely “papers the house” with free tickets to give the illusion that there is a genuine demand here for a soccer team in a second rate league, ready to extort money from a city which is, to use a tired cliche, crumbling and decaying rapidly. Unfortunately, there is no mass outcry against this outrage.

  6. Serious question since I’ve only driven through Indy (without stopping). Do people even like soccer there? I know they like football and basketball so paying to have pro-teams in the those sports in town makes some sense from a quality of life/amenity perspective. But do people like soccer enough to make it worth paying for the stadium?