Don’t let government build an obsolete stadium

Written by Kurt St. Angelo

Don’t let government build an obsolete stadium by Kurt St. Angelo @2005 Libertarian Writers' Bureau

About 21 years ago I was one ofrepparttar several thousand who publicly greeted then-owner Robert Irsay atrepparttar 125856 Hoosier Dome when he brought his Colts franchise to town.

It’s hard now to believe thatrepparttar 125857 city of Indianapolis – with help of a county-wide hospitality tax granted byrepparttar 125858 state General Assembly and a generous $25 million grant fromrepparttar 125859 Lilly Endowment – built an $82 million, 63,000-seat professional football stadium on pure speculation, without having a team to play in it.

Less than 13 years later, byrepparttar 125860 time it was politically acceptable to mention it, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay appeared on national television to call for a new publicly funded stadium. As then-chairman ofrepparttar 125861 Libertarian Party of Marion County, I publicly denounced this idea. I asked how an $82 million public works project could become obsolete shortly more than a decade after it was built.

The straight and fundamental answer is thatrepparttar 125862 RCA Dome was built by three entities that had no experience inrepparttar 125863 business of professional football: a local government, a state government and a tax-exempt foundation.

Why should we have expected anything but a no-frills building, one that had too few luxury suites and too few fancy club seats to turn an NFL team moderately profitable inrepparttar 125864 modern age?

Relying onrepparttar 125865 usual experts lacking imagination and foresight, government built a facility that was too small, and was neither expandable nor convertible. Worse, it tiedrepparttar 125866 project to special interest groups, such as downtown parking-lot owners.

Butrepparttar 125867 main problem with government-built stadiums likerepparttar 125868 RCA Dome is that no one is really accountable forrepparttar 125869 decisions oncerepparttar 125870 stadiums turn out to be inappropriate. The William Hudnut administration, which builtrepparttar 125871 Dome and broughtrepparttar 125872 Colts to town, was long gone beforerepparttar 125873 inadequacies ofrepparttar 125874 facility become apparent.

For example,repparttar 125875 RCA Dome has always been small by NFL standards. However, since adding extra luxury suites and club seats in 1998,repparttar 125876 Dome isrepparttar 125877 NFL’s smallest with 57,500 seats.

Can Indianapolis afford an NFL franchise?

Written by Kurt St. Angelo

Can Indianapolis afford an NFL franchise? by Kurt St. Angelo @ 2005 Libertarian Writers' Bureau

Since at least 1997 – only 14 years afterrepparttar 63,000-seat Hoosier Dome was built for $82 million – Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was publicly lobbying for a new stadium to host his team.

Although pushed back byrepparttar 125855 Pacers’ $175 million taxpayer-supported Conseco Field House deal, he said his turn would come. He has repeatedly said that his NFL franchise “cannot survive” onrepparttar 125856 revenues provided fromrepparttar 125857 RCA Dome, and that a new stadium is needed “sooner or later.”

It’s tough making big money on an NFL franchise in a market this size without taxpayers subsidizing much ofrepparttar 125858 costs. Taxpayers coughed up $20 million in 1998 to enlargerepparttar 125859 RCA Dome’s suites and enhancerepparttar 125860 value of its expensive box seats. This actually cutrepparttar 125861 dome’s capacity to 57,900 seats, making itrepparttar 125862 smallest stadium inrepparttar 125863 league. In 2003repparttar 125864 team ranked 27th out of 32 NFL teams in terms of revenue and 29th in value.

"We're significantly, significantly belowrepparttar 125865 average (in revenue), and that disparity is growing,” Irsay told Indianapolis television viewers. “Yetrepparttar 125866 average determines what our expenses are withrepparttar 125867 salary cap. That's what makes things so difficult."

However, asrepparttar 125868 Cincinnati Bengals have proven, a new stadium does not ensure a better profit. Even with a new stadium,repparttar 125869 Bengals were 24th in revenue in 2002, with only $4 million more in revenues thanrepparttar 125870 Colts.

The Colts’ lease atrepparttar 125871 RCA Dome runs until 2013, butrepparttar 125872 team can breakrepparttar 125873 deal afterrepparttar 125874 2006 season if its revenues aren’t greater than or equal torepparttar 125875 median inrepparttar 125876 NFL in two out ofrepparttar 125877 next three seasons. Indianapolis could requirerepparttar 125878 Colts to stay by payingrepparttar 125879 difference betweenrepparttar 125880 team’s revenues andrepparttar 125881 league’s median.

In 2002repparttar 125882 Colts fell short by about $13 million. Under this arrangement, Indianapolis taxpayers presently payrepparttar 125883 Colts about $12 million per year in direct subsidies. The long-term solution, Irsay proposes, is a new stadium with more expensive suites, club seats and ticket prices. He saysrepparttar 125884 team’s future in Indianapolis depends on “the ability … to market yourself and sell seats, particularlyrepparttar 125885 expensive suites and club seats.” Agreed.

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