The Indiana Pacers are sending their strongest signal yet that if the city of Indianapolis doesn’t come up with $15 million a year to take over the operational costs of Conseco Fieldhouse, they’ll leave and go to another city.
In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Pacers President Jim Morris said the team would look at “all of its options” if it can’t reach a deal with the city within the next 30-40 days.
No offense to Pacers and their fans, but I don’t think you’re living in the same world as the rest of us. The City of Indianapolis is dealing with economic challenges that are the result of a slow economy and property tax caps. Throw in some infrastructure needs, public safety, parks and libraries and the fact the Pacers suck as a team and you might see how shelling out $15 million a year to a bad basketball team might not be a priority for the rest of us.
Now if you want to leave, I can respect that because you’ve got a business to run. Just leave that check for at least $50 million on the table before you go. Under the terms of the agreement the Pacers would pay a penalty if they terminate their lease early which, depending on how you do the math, involves the Pacers leaving a nice bit of pocket change on the table. At the very least that gets the city through the next three years with no main tenant.
Now if you decide to stay, let’s work something out. If you want the city to pick up the $15 million operating tab of Conseco, then I’m sure you won’t mind giving up that $7-$9 million in non-Pacer revenue from events at the Fieldhouse. In addition, since you’re no longer operating the facility, you can start paying rent; say $1 million annually. Now that means the city would still have to shell out some cash, but you can make up for that by turning over the operation of Conseco to a private management company.
It may not be the best deal in the world, but the Pacers need to understand they are not the be all end all of the city. Now if the Pacers were the Bulldogs, that would be a different story. But they’re not, just look at the way they played this season.