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June 16, 2010
Pacers may not get their lease subsidy before self-imposed "deadline"
It looks like talks over the Indiana Pacers' demand for an even sweeter sweetheart lease will go down to the wire — or a wire, anyway. The team's owners set June 30 as a deadline for resolving the dispute, but Ann Lathrop, president of the state Capital Improvement Board (who was, incidentally, Indianapolis city controller at the time the original lease was signed) says there's no guarantee a deal will be reached by then.
The big sticking point appears to be not the $15 million in annual operating-cost subsidies the Pacers want, which the CIB, despite its own budget woes, seems willing to cough up, at least in part. Rather, according to the Indianapolis Star, "the central sticking point has been who controls Conseco Fieldhouse," with the CIB saying if it's going to take on the cost of paying all operating expenses for a tenant that already pays no rent, it wants control of the arena back. The Pacers are reportedly "resistant" to this.
The Star article also quotes me (as saying that these kinds of talks always drag on longer than expected), but the quote of the day goes to economist Roger Noll, who told the paper: "In the absence of an active attempt by some other city to get them, deadlines like that are meaningless. The crucial issue has to do with whether they have any other options, and those don't come overnight."
In other words, pay no attention to the Pacers' "deadlines," pay attention to what's going on in other cities. Like, say, Las Vegas, which is busily working on new arena plans to lure ... um, whoops, never mind.