Soccer stadium tax issue drawing debate at Statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS – After a committee of lawmakers approved a proposal to help pay for a new soccer stadium in downtown Indianapolis, one key legislator is calling foul.

Senate Bill 308 was originally written to deal with a sports facility renovation issue in Fort Wayne, but it was amended by the House Ways and Means committee Thursday to allow the new Indy Eleven soccer team to capture local and state tax revenue to help pay for a new stadium.

House minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, questioned that move during a Friday news conference.

“This isn’t how you do things, particularly when there’s millions of dollars of taxpayer money at stake,” said Pelath. “And when there’s millions at stake, you have to think about the opportunity cost, what are the other things we could be doing with those dollars.”

The bill would raise the Capital Improvement Board’s debt limit by $2 million, but further changes could still be proposed in the full House or in conference committee.

You can read more about the bill and the proposed changes posted on the General Assembly web site.

“We’re not creating anything new here, just allowing a little bit of increased flexibility for this to be included,” said Ways and Means chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville. “This was just to make sure we continue to have conversation with our Senate colleagues and everybody on both sides of the aisle.”

“If you don’t have a venue long term, it will be difficult to keep people’s interest,” said team owner Ersal Ozdemir. “We appreciate the bipartisan support we got yesterday in Ways & Means (but) we still have a lot of work to do.”

The full House will consider the bill next week.

In the meantime, the Indy Eleven will play its first season at IUPUI beginning in April.

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