INDIANAPOLIS – The Capital Improvement Board is preparing to spend several million dollars on the popular sports and entertainment venues in downtown Indianapolis to keep them competitive with venues in other cities.
The board approved the 2014 budget unanimously, but it will need Indianapolis City-County Council approval.
“We can have great service and great execution, but if the facilities aren’t there, it can make it more challenging,” said Phil Ray, general manager of Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.
The CIB has nearly $14 million worth of maintenance and repair projects in mind at the Indiana Convention Center. Some infrastructure and equipment date back to the 1970s.
An approximately $10 million investment has also been encouraged at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pacers Sports and Entertainment, which manages the facility, could also receive another $11 to keep the fieldhouse running. Negotiations are ongoing.
“I think they are investments that need to be done now,” said Barney Levengood, CIB executive director.
Levengood would not call the desired projects critical, but he said re-investing now could reduce the burden on taxpayers as compared to waiting to invest years down the road. Plus, he said competition with other venues in big cities can get fierce.
Lucas Oil Stadium, according to the proposed budget, also needs a $1.5 million exterior paint job among other sound, video and other infrastructure improvements.
“There is a tremendous steel structure that supports the retractable roof so that has to be kept maintained and painted,” said Levengood.
“For us to win and stay competitive, and to win that business, our facilities have to be great,” said Ray.
A City-County Council committee will meet Thursday night to start discussing and possibly making suggestions to the CIB on its budget. The full council is expected to vote on the budget on Oct. 14.