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The RCA Dome has 104 suites. The league’s top franchise, Washington Redskins, offers 280. The difference in revenue between Colts’ and Redskins’ luxury suites likely exceeds $15 million annually. Total team revenues were $137 million and $227 million, respectively, in 2002.
Certainly it behooves Irsay to shop his team to city that gives him best deal. During past decade, 21 of league’s 32 teams have received new or renovated stadiums. An average sweetheart deal is a $323-million stadium, paid 65 percent by taxpayers , that holds 69,200 spectators.
But here are $66,000 questions for Mr. Irsay: Even with an average $323-million stadium funded two-thirds by taxpayers, can Colts sell more suites at greater prices to bring team revenues above NFL median? Likewise, can central Indiana football market sustain more suites, box seats and higher prices to keep Colts in town?
I’ve been thinking of recommending that Libertarian Party buy naming rights to next Indianapolis Colts’ stadium, but now I’m having second thoughts.
At a recent sold-out home game, I was unable to sell two extra $45-seats that I had – at any price. There was no one besides ticket scalpers to give tickets. I swallowed $90 in losses, not to mention two grossly expensive $6 beers during game. (Hey, I was thirsty and now have my third plastic commemorative Colts cup!)
Before a new stadium becomes economically realistic in Indianapolis, demand for Colts tickets, box seats and luxury suites must exceed their supply. This burden of truth falls on Jim Irsay, and he must meet this before taxpayers make more concessions.
Funding a new stadium with $400-plus million of taxpayer debt (excluding interest) is to gamble on team’s ability to sell itself to more fans and at a higher premium.
This will be a much harder task than giving away my extra tickets.
(Originally published on November 16, 2004)
Attorney, screenwriter, Libertarian Party activist in Indianapolis