The city of Indianapolis and the Indiana Pacers inked a $160 million deal to keep the team here for the next decade. The Pacers will continue to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse while the city will pay for operating expenses and upgrades to the facility.
While its a tough pill to swallow for the Capital Improvement Board, keeping the Pacers here is equally important for Indy. The deal will essentially extend for 13-years as there are three one-year renewal options.
Why should Indianapolis hold on the Pacers?
Well for one they drive local businesses downtown. Thousands of people visit restaurants and bars surrounding the stadium before and after home games. That means extra money to make the scene in downtown Indy more vibrant. Dozens of these establishments would go out of business without a big draw like the Pacers. Having the team generates roughly $208 million for the downtown area, according to the Indy Star.
There is also the philanthropic aspect of a pro team. The Pacers do an awful lot of charity work across the city and it is difficult to measure the positive impact these team’s and players have on a community.
Then there is the national attention. We know that the Colts won’t go anywhere anytime soon, but having both and NBA and NFL franchise give more attention to the city. Indianapolis has long had a reputation of being a boring, small midwestern city with nothing to do. Two pro franchises coupled with all the big events (Indy 500, Brickyard, regular NCAA Tournament events) helps to put that myth to rest.
Best part of downtown Indy? All three stadiums are extremely close together and walking distance from of entertainment and lodging. Compare that to “Dallas” AT&T Stadium, which is in the middle of nowhere. They hosted the Super Bowl and most recently the Final Four with the chief complaint being that it was 45-minutes away from any signs of life.
The Pacers had all the power in this deal as well. Both Kansas City and Seattle want a franchise an NBA franchise and are willing to make attractive offers. The idea that the team would leave its only home since its inception seems silly, but franchise ownership is a bottom line business.
Herb Simon took a big hit during the mid-2000s when the team was in the tank and fan attendance dropped at an alarming rate. Not surprising when the players were shooting up strip clubs and getting arrested for possession.
Simon has spent a lot of personal money keeping this team in his hometown. Its likely that he would never relocate, but at some point it becomes a tough financial decision and one where the city lacks any real leverage.
$16 million a year isn’t all that much for a team like the Pacers. The CIB will vote on the deal Monday, but it will likely pass. They will have to find a way to make up a roughly $40 million deficit that may result in a new taxes for the community.