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But here’s real crux. The RCA Dome is perfectly good as it is, except for one basic flaw. No, flaw is NOT size of Dome. Although it is smallest in league at 57,900 seats, Colts barely sell Dome out even with ticket prices just below league’s average of $54.75.
The problem with RCA Dome stems from how NFL teams share revenue. Owners keep their revenues from private luxury suites. At Dome, Colts owner Jim Irsay has 104 suites. The league’s most profitable franchise, Washington Redskins, has 280.
Irsay seeks a stadium with enough suites to give him a shot at a medium profit relative to rest of league. He would have already moved his franchise to Los Angeles had that city promised him a stadium with enough suites, which it could not afford to do.
So he and his franchise are leveraging Indianapolis and our state government into building him a stadium by 2008 that merely gives him more profit potential. Ironically, Irsay’s best selling point is that he will not also hold city hostage by making it guarantee that suites it builds him will be sold. Huh? Until then, city expects to pay him at least $36 million to keep Colts in town.
Compare this to real costs of a new stadium. Its $500 million price tag can triple by time its bond is paid. For 400 permanent jobs that stadium creates and hundred or so new suites that are created, that amounts to a public investment of over $1 million per job and $3 million per luxury suite. Plus, we will build a stadium with no more capacity than original Hoosier Dome and, from looks of design, one with lousy viewing for NCAA basketball.
That’s maddening. Our elected officials are about to build another obsolete stadium with limited capacity, a poor configuration and an exorbitant price tag. They will again saddle us with public debt that is tall on political horseplay and short on horse sense.
Attorney, screen writer and former chair of the Libertarian Party of Marion County.