That’s the million, or more appropriately, $15 million question that I’m asking regarding the City of Indianapolis and the Indiana Pacers. I blogged last week that there was a potential short-term deal on the table. My sources weren’t 100% on the mark, but they were pretty darn close.
Here’s what I know, the Capital Improvement Board did make an offer to the Indiana Pacers. The CIB would take over Conseco in exchange for the Pacers giving up all non-Pacer revenue and paying rent. The deal would have lasted for three years until both sides had a better understanding of the team’s finances once a new union contract had been worked out. It’s at that point where no one will tell me exactly what happened. The Pacers either got up and walked out of the negotiations or they told the CIB to get bent. Either way, as one source put it “the talks have gone south”.
Interestingly enough, the problem isn’t personalities being difficult, it’s simple dollars and cents. The Pacers, who claim they’re losing $30 million annually on the team, say they can’t survive without the non-Pacer revenue nor can they afford to pay rent. Word also on the street is that the team has exhausted its line of credit so that well is pretty much dry. The city’s position is it can’t give away the whole store because the Mayor wants a deal that is responsible and accountable to the taxpayers. So right now, the two sides are at a standoff.
There are also two other factors that complicate matters for both sides, because Conseco Fieldhouse is financed with tax-exempt bonds, there are limits on how much the city can charge. In addition, I’m told the NBA has final say on whether a team can relocate, so even if the Pacers wanted to move, the NBA can say no. By the way, I’m following up on rumors that Kansas City may be a possible relocation site for the team if things really really really go south.
So where do we go from here? Neither side is quite sure. I do know one thing, if I were the Indiana Pacers I’d be on a Marion County goodwill tour right now trying to convince the taxpayers that they are a worthwhile investment. Because right now, most people who have to work for a living and pay taxes, could careless about the team right now.