Indiana legislature approves $712m in tax money for Pacers, Indy Eleven, but it’s “old” taxes so it’s okay

The Indiana state senate has approved Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon’s $600 million worth of stadium renovation and operating subsidies, as well as Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir’s $112 million in stadium construction subsidies, because Indiana. The bill now heads for the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

And because every bad stadium deal deserves bad journalism to go along with it, we have this from the Indianapolis Business Journal:

The legislation does not create new taxes, but it does extend the life of some existing taxes that would have otherwise expired and it expands the area where the CIB collects some of its tax revenue…

The bill extends the admissions and auto-rental taxes—which otherwise would have expired in 2023—until 2040 and expands what’s known as the professional sports development area, or PSDA, to include an additional eight hotels.

This is where that whole George H.W. Bush “no new taxes” kerfuffle has left American politics: Anything is considered acceptable so long as the taxes involved aren’t “new.” So even if extending an old tax for 17 years is functionally exactly the same for taxpayers as adding a new one for 17 years, or if siphoning off tax revenues from eight more hotels to pay for sports projects means that local government will have to raise taxes (or cut services) elsewhere to make up the difference, that’s no new taxes, check that box. And media outlets like the IBJ are obligated to repeat that language, because criticizing those in power would be taking sides and therefore wrong.

Anyway, two rich guys are about to get a whole richer at the expense of Indiana residents, and probably Indianapolis is going to get an MLS team eventually. Not that Indianapolis wasn’t going to get an MLS team eventually anyway — everybody is eventually going to get an MLS team — but now it’ll be sooner, maybe? This would all go a whole lot faster if MLS and the USL would just merge, but then MLS owners wouldn’t be getting all these expansion fees and cities wouldn’t be throwing money at would-be expansion owners to get MLS teams, so never mind, artificial scarcity is clearly the backbone of capitalism and I’m sorry I said anything.

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9 comments on “Indiana legislature approves $712m in tax money for Pacers, Indy Eleven, but it’s “old” taxes so it’s okay

    1. Who knows, honestly. He’s never been all that consistent on what constitutes a “new tax”.

  1. Wouldn’t you just give anything to have it revealed that Bernie Madoff has been an MLS board member all along?

  2. Indiana taxpayers deserve it. Screw ’em. People vote for this kind of crap, or don’t pay attention when it’s foisted on them: screw ’em.

  3. It’s a convention town. When you’re a convention town, you spend tax “revenues” (to use Neil’s preferred political party’s verbiage) on infrastructure that bolsters the downtown core’s ability to draw visitors.

    Bottom line is, from Indy’s perspective, the Pacers & the soccer team are only part of the story. The bigger part is making Indy attractive to WWE, the NCAA, US Soccer, and other entities that draw large numbers of out-of-town visitors.

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