What better way to fill the dog days of August than sorting through the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) budget and the financial issues of operating Conseco Fieldhouse. Ugh.
Last night the City-County Council boosted the local hotel tax by 1% to help fund the CIB's budgetwhich combined with some other loans and cuts will keep the CIB afloat this year.
The Pacersand their request for $15 million to operate Conseco Fieldhouse was not addressed which will force the team to negotiate directly with the city. Sounds like a plan, until you look at the city's budget.
Mayor Greg Ballard is proposing a city budget with spending cuts to most departments. His goal is to maintain services with the tighter funding but this thing will turn into a political quagmire in a hurry if a city job is presumed loss or any services cut back. At that point, Herb Simon asking for $15 million will be juxtaposed against critical services to meet the needs of the people of the city.
In other words, forget about it.
Then the only leverage the Pacers have is to threaten to move the team out of town. Yeah, I know, this is going to be a blast isn't it?
This is no time to panic, though. There are many more factors in play than the city's budget or the Fieldhouse operating expenses. Plus, losing the Pacers would be a colossal fail for all of the power brokers for the city, state and business community. Downtown Indy has been built around the convention and entertainment industries. The expanded convention center isn't even done, so the city is yet to reap the benefits of that investment which will bring more and larger events to the city.
This isn't like Seattle, where the team needs a new building. The Fieldhouse is among the best basketball arenas in the world. Plus, the Simons recently built their world headquarters building on a prime piece of real estate across from the state capitol. They couldn't be any more invested in the local community.
To move the Pacers, the Simons would eventually sell the team so we're a long way from that sad scenario considering any real negotiations have yet to take place. Plus, this is strictly about having the city or some other entity take over operations of Conseco Fieldhouse, not about the Pacers franchise as a whole. So between the Simons and all of the vested interests of the city, there has to be a palatable compromise to keep the Fieldhouse running.
Ironically, the City-County Council failed to pass a law to tighten panhandling restriction in the city which may offer Herb Simon his only option until the dust settles on the budget.
These are just my thoughts on the subject tonight. I'm sure there will be plenty of reporting over the next few days so I'll do my best to keep you updated as new information surfaces.