Upgrades to Bankers Life Fieldhouse come with high price tag

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By Jillian Deam

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 13, 2014) – The Capital Improvement Board (CIB) has approved plans for new flooring and LED displays at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It’s all part of a $160 million and 10-year deal CIB made with the Pacers back in April.  But the NBA just negotiated a new TV contract that will bring more cash to the team, and that has some people questioning the amount of city money going to the Pacers.

When the deal was made in April, Pacers President Jim Morris said the money was necessary.

“This is a major factor in helping us get on solid financial ground going forward,” Morris said.

Now, the NBA’s new TV contract will give the Pacers about $55 million dollars more money per year than the team is getting from their current contract.

“The situation they made those agreements under has changed with a $55 million increase on top of the money they were already getting, so it’s difficult to imagine the same organization is still having financial troubles,” said council member Zach Adamson.

Adamson says he believes some of those tax dollars could be better spent going towards the police department or road improvements.  But CIB says by law, the money it uses must go toward downtown development, which means it can’t go toward those areas.

“The CIB contributes a lot to the overall economic development of the entire city. We create a lot of jobs, which create income taxes that really do flow to those types of services,” CIB President Ann Lathrop said.

“The contract that we have with the Pacers is related to a facility that we own and still have debt on, so our focus has really been on those operating expenses,” Lathrop added.

Still, Adamanson says there are ways to work around it.

“Every dollar we’ve put into that area through the downtown TIF could’ve been spent with money coming from the CIB instead, so if the dollars are coming from the CIB, then that TIF money could be passed through the general fund, which can be used for police, roads, fire and everything else that we value,” Adamson said.

CIB says Bankers Life Fieldhouse is in need of upgrades, and the improvements will keep crowds coming back downtown and generate more revenue for the city.

Forbes Magazine estimates the Pacers are worth $475 million and turned a profit of $11.6 million in the 2012-2013 season.

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