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3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that there are posts about this in the Indy Dev Sticky, but since this is now a headline everyday here in Indy and changes are coming from all directions, I thought it should have it's own thread...

As some may remember, back in January, Mayor Peterson and Owner Jim Irsay announced they had a "deal" that would keep the Colts in Indy for at least another 30 years. That deal centered in demolishing the current home of the Colts, the RCA Dome, building a new, retractable roof, multi-use facility south of the Dome and expand the convention center in place of the Dome. That deal was funded almost entirely by expanded gaming. Well, the elephants didn't like that idea, and in an attempt to take the credit for "saving the team," have come up with a number of counter proposals that all involve raising taxes (this I just don't understand, if you can pay for something without raiing taxes, then do it...). Anyway, the governor has now stepped in with his proposal...but what sucks is it is 15mill short annually and now there is a hint that the project could be scaled-down. All I know is that the City DESPERATELY needs to keep the retractable roof option. Football is meant to be played outdoors!

From the Indy Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels proposed what could be the final piece of a deal to build a Colts stadium Thursday -- a new 1 percent restaurant tax throughout the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

Marion and seven surrounding counties, not including Madison, would contribute half of the new restaurant tax revenues to the project and keep the other half for their own projects. Along with Marion County's taxes, the initiative would raise about $22 million a year for the $625 million stadium project and a $275 million Convention Center expansion.

For consumers, approval of the governor's still-developing plan would mean an extra tax on fast-food bills, formal restaurants tabs and even fried chicken from a grocery store deli counter.

For Indianapolis, approval would mean keeping the Colts for at least three more decades and expanding a booming convention business. A new stadium also would be used for major convention and NCAA events, such as the Final Four basketball tournament.

The restaurant taxes would be the centerpiece of a larger, still developing plan, Daniels said. While sure to draw some criticism, he said the plan has the best chance of winning approval in the General Assembly. Daniels said suburban county officials have expressed support for raising the optional restaurant tax.

"I think it's a fair thing to do," Daniels said, stressing the entire area benefits from the Colts and convention visitors.

Daniels also called for a new board to oversee the project, a panel that would include appointees from the state and surrounding counties as well as Indianapolis.

The governor did not detail other portions of his plan, but his office said it would likely include Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson's proposed car rental and hotel room tax hikes. The state also is expected to kick in more cash by allowing Marion County to keep roughly $8 million more annually from taxes generated at its sports facilities.

Many questions remain. For instance, Daniels' office said the two projects would cost about $55 million annually to finance -- roughly $15 million less per year than the mayor has estimated.

Much of those savings would come from lower financing rates the state could receive, Daniels said. He also left open the possibility of scaling back the design of the stadium project -- declining, for instance, to say whether his plan would include the costly retractable roof that Peterson has proposed.

The mayor's office offered an understated reaction to the governor's announcement. Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell said city staffers were continuing to crunch numbers and that more high-level meetings were expected.

Daniels would not discuss other ways to raise money for the project. He said the final details are expected in coming days.

The governor's announcement was a major step forward in what has been a slow debate in the Statehouse this year. Several stadium and Convention Center plans have been proposed in recent weeks, but none has won significant support. Daniels' plan is unique in that it relies in part on eight counties, providing the regional approach many said was needed to pay for the expensive projects.

Peterson has long argued the Colts are a regional benefit worthy of regional contributions. The governor said making the tax increase metrowide was crucial because Marion County already has a 1 percent food and beverage tax. He does not want to increase that tax disparity between Indianapolis and its neighbors.

That, he said, "would put (Indianapolis) at a very serious competitive advantage."

After months of stalled talks between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic mayor, Daniels' involvement sparked a flurry of activity this week. Key lawmakers have met with Colts owner Jim Irsay, and the Colts have stepped up their public relations efforts. On Wednesday, Daniels ran his proposal by Republican lawmakers from Indianapolis and the surrounding counties. Later, he met with suburban county officials at the governor's residence, and on Thursday, the governor and the mayor huddled at least twice.

Daniels said local officials have reacted enthusiastically, and he expects most neighboring counties to adopt the new, optional restaurant tax.

At the Statehouse, area lawmakers talked cautiously but positively about the governor's idea.

Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said he expects his county to adopt the tax increase, which he said would raise about $2.5 million annually in Hamilton County.

"I don't like a tax increase any more than any other elected official," Torr said. "But a lot of my constituents would be upset if the Convention Center suffered or the Colts went away."

State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, said he is a strong opponent of taxes. But he said he could support a plan that allows counties to decide for themselves whether to raise restaurant taxes.

"My county could use the money," Burton said.

Daniels' office emphasized that only a small portion of the project's funding -- capped at $5 million annually -- would come from the suburban counties. Most of the money would come from Indianapolis, where the restaurant tax hike would raise about $17 million a year.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican whose district includes both Marion and Hamilton counties, said he was pleased the issue appeared to be reaching a conclusion.

More discussions are expected today as the two sides dig into a number of issues -- including revenue and cost figures, the question of a retractable roof, and oversight of the project.

Oversight could be the sticking point. Until now, the city's Capital Improvement Board was expected to play that important role, determining what firms work on the Convention Center expansion and a stadium set to cost, with preparation costs, about $625 million.

Daniels, however, said the state would play a role in supervising the projects. That would mean a new financing authority to watch over them, likely consisting of individuals appointed by the state, the city and the suburbs.

"A project the state makes possible, the state should take authority in overseeing," Daniels said.

193 Posts
I'm so tired of the back-and-forth going on with development in this city... with both this project and the Market Square Towers! I am a total supporter of Indianapolis dreaming big (because we have done so in the past and we've been mostly successful); conversely I understand that projects of this magnitude require a tremendous amount of tweaking and flexibility to insure that they're as successful as they should be. But truly--I'm starting to think there might be more payments plans for this stadium than there have been revisions of the Market Square towers! It's disheartening. I'm confident the stadium will happen one way or another, but I'd rather see something really grand... not a scaled-back, sub-par version of the original. If we're ever going to establish the status of being the big city we're telling everyone we are, we're going to have to drop the ultra-moderate, don't-rock-the-boat mentality.

I'm still bitter that our government ruled out paying for these projects through gaming. Are we really THAT conservative? Is an increase in gambling in Indianapolis really going to bring about the end of morality? Viewpoints like that are what have given Indiana its bad reputation in the first place.

At any rate, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mayor: Stadium a city project

By Matthew Tully
[email protected]
April 3, 2005

Peterson backs governor's financing ideas but says Indianapolis should retain control

Mayor Bart Peterson endorsed major parts of the governor's plan to finance a new Colts stadium and an Indiana Convention Center expansion Saturday but insisted the city should have ultimate control over the project.

The question of how the project would be overseen is emerging as possibly the major sticking point between Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Democratic mayor as the two race toward a deal in these final weeks of the 2005 legislative session.

Daniels was not available Saturday. His office said the governor is seeking a new stadium financing authority made up of representatives from the state, the city and suburban counties surrounding Indianapolis. The city would not have a majority on such a panel.

Peterson tried to step in Saturday before the governor's plan picked up steam. Calling reporters to his City Hall office, the mayor suggested the governor could have two new representatives on an existing city board that oversees convention and sports facilities in Indianapolis.

Peterson also said that city body -- the Capital Improvement Board -- should finance what could be about a $900 million project. That is counter to Daniels' plans.

"We have concluded there is no cost advantage to state financing," the mayor said.

Two seats on the city board, however, likely will not satisfy Daniels or Statehouse Republicans. Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said lawmakers probably will want state control over the project because it will be funded largely with taxes approved by the legislature.

Despite the disagreement, Peterson spent most of his news conference talking cheerfully about the negotiations.

He enthusiastically endorsed a 1 percent regional restaurant tax, which Daniels on Thursday said would be the centerpiece of his plan. He also said the two sides had agreed on the cost of the project, though he declined to provide details.

Talks are expected to continue through the weekend.

The issue will land in front of the Senate Tax Committee on Monday, when Kenley, the chairman, plans to bring up an amendment to fund the project. The amendment will include the governor's ideas and, most likely, tax increases the mayor has proposed on Marion County hotels and car rentals.

Additionally, Kenley said the amendment to House Bill 1120 would include his own provisions. His previous plan included a 1 percent income tax on player salaries and a ticket tax.

Kenley said he would be willing to back away from those taxes if Colts owner Jim Irsay agrees to contribute more to the project. The Colts have agreed to pay about $52 million.

Saturday's development provided evidence that these talks, like the football games a new stadium would host, are guided by carefully devised strategy. Peterson, for instance, argued for city control of the project but carefully spoke in flattering terms about the governor.

Daniels' work to forge a deal, the mayor said, "has been nothing short of remarkable."

After more than three months of failed attempts to craft a financing package, the mayor said the governor's entrance into the debate has been a boost.

"This is a very big moment. This is a breakthrough moment," he said as he endorsed the restaurant tax. But, he warned, "It's got a long way to go. . . . We still don't have agreement on all the issues."

In addition to the oversight question, there are indications that the stadium's proposed retractable roof, which some lawmakers have called too pricey, could be in jeopardy. Peterson declined to say whether that will be part of a final bill.

"To change the roof would be to change the deal we have with the Colts," he said. ". . . But if you talk about that, it's purely speculation."

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Senate panel OKs stadium financing plan

Senate panel OKs stadium financing plan
Bill that would fund Colts stadium and convention center expansion relies heavily on tax hikes.

By Matthew Tully
[email protected]
April 4, 2005

With a host of tax increases on things such as hotel rooms and restaurant tabs, a Senate Committee unanimously approved a financing plan this morning for a new Colts stadium and expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

The plan, amended into House Bill 1120, calls for new 1 percent restaurant taxes in Marion County and the seven surrounding counties that touch it. Hotel tax rates would jump from 6 percent to 9 percent and local car rental taxes would double, to 4 percent, in Marion County only.

Additionally, fans going to Colts games in the new stadium would pay a $3 ticket tax. A $1 tax would be charged for other stadium events. An existing admissions tax would go from 5 percent to 6 percent.

In all, the tax increases, as well as other money generated at Indianapolis sports and convention facilities, would raise about $53.5 million annually -- enough, city and state officials said, to fund the roughly $900 million project.

The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee adopted the amendment 11-0, setting up a possible debate in front of the full Senate as early as this week. The funding plan was crafted by Gov. Mitch Daniels and Tax Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, but included elements first proposed by Mayor Bart Peterson.

"I think we've made enormous progress, I really do," Peterson said.

While saying the funding portion of the issue appears to be nearing agreement, the mayor raised objections about a move by Daniels and Kenley, both Republicans, to assign oversight of the project to a new state financing authority.

The mayor, a Democrat, says oversight should continue to be the charge of the city's Capital Improvement Board. That body oversees city convention and sports facilities and has guided the construction of Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, and expansions of the RCA Dome and the convention center.

"Let the people do it that have been doing it for 30 years," the mayor said.

Daniels' budget director, Charles Schalliol, however, said a new state financing authority would guard the state's interest in the project.

Under the mayor's plan, the Capital Improvement Board would oversee the project, but its membership would grow from nine members to 11. The two new members would come from the governor's administration.

Under Daniels' proposal, a seven-member building authority would guide the financing and construction of the project. The governor and the mayor would each appoint two members. Three others -- the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tem and the suburban counties -- would have one representative.

In essence, the governor's proposal would put Republicans in control of naming five of the board's seven members.

A major part of today's debate centered on the financing of the project. Schalliol argued the state could finance the project at lower rates than the city. Peterson strongly denied that, saying the city's stellar credit rating ensures low finance rates.

But the mayor seemed to frustrate some members of the committee by agreeing the project could be financed at $53.5 million a year -- about $15 million less than he initially asked for.

Peterson said his initial numbers were conservative and pointed out that he promised any money raised but not needed for the project would revert to the state.

Still, Kenley, the chairman, said he could have used the lower figure as he tried to craft a financing plan.

"You could have saved me a public beating," Kenley said, referring to an earlier plan he unveiled to raise more money that the mayor now says is needed.

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Stadium financing gallops forward

A plan to pay for a new Colts stadium leapt ahead Monday when a Senate committee voted to have restaurant diners, hotel guests and car renters help pick up the tab.

But even as the financing plan moved to the Senate floor, Mayor Bart Peterson and Gov. Mitch Daniels continued jockeying for the chance to oversee the project.

And this isn't just any project.

At more than $900 million, the stadium and Indiana Convention Center expansion undertaking would be one of the priciest in city history -- thousands of jobs, lucrative bond work for law firms and many other big-money contracts are tied to it.

In the end, either a city board filled mainly with Peterson appointees, or a state authority that Daniels is seeking to create, will be in charge. Which one has become the thorny question as the General Assembly session enters its final three weeks.

"We're kind of fussin' on who is going to be in charge," said Sen. J. Murray Clark, R-Indianapolis, putting a down-home spin on a high-stakes question.

Clark is a member of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, which voted unanimously Monday morning to put a financing plan into a sweeping tax bill. That proposal drops the idea of a tax on players but keeps alive a stadium design that includes a retractable roof.

The plan, now in House Bill 1120, calls for new 1 percent restaurant taxes in Marion County and the seven counties that border it. In Marion County only, hotel tax rates would jump from 6 percent to 9 percent and local car rental taxes would double to 4 percent.

Additionally, fans going to Colts games in the new stadium would pay a $3 ticket tax. A $1 tax would be charged for other stadium events, and another existing admissions tax would go from 5 percent to 6 percent.

The state would kick in $12 million, mostly by letting the city keep taxes generated at its sports and Convention Center facilities.

"There are a multitude of different parties making this happen . . . rather than just dumping on Marion County," said Charles Schalliol, the governor's budget director.

In all, the tax increases, as well as other money generated at Indianapolis sports and convention sites, would raise about $53.5 million annually -- enough, city and state officials said, to fund the roughly $900 million project. The mayor said there were some outstanding questions, including whether the Colts would accept a $3 ticket tax. But after months of failed attempts to reach a deal, he said, the governor and Senate Tax Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, had produced a workable package.

"We are really pretty darn close on the numbers," he said.

Nonetheless, the oversight matter remains a big one.

The mayor, a Democrat, says oversight should continue to be the charge of the city's Capital Improvement Board. That body oversees city convention and sports facilities and has guided the construction of Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field and modifications of the RCA Dome and the Convention Center.

"Let the people do it that have been doing it for 30 years," said the mayor, who appoints six of the panel's nine members. Creating a new board could slow the project, and he added that most of the funding for the project would be raised in Indianapolis so the city should control it.

Schalliol, the state budget director, said a new state financing authority would best guard the state's interest in the project. That body likely would feature five members appointed by Republicans and two by the mayor.

A major part of Monday's debate centered on the financing of the project. Schalliol argued the state authority could finance the project at lower rates than the city. Peterson strongly denied that, saying the city's high credit rating ensures low finance rates.

Reached at his New York office, Michael Decker, senior vice president with the Bond Market Association, said bond raters, bond holders and insurers are most concerned with the revenue sources assigned to pay off debt. "Whether the state or local government is issuing the bonds," he said, "probably is less important."

According to Moody's Investors Service, Indianapolis has an "Aaa" credit rating, the highest. The state has an "Aa1" rating -- defined as high-grade but lower than the city's.

The Daniels administration, however, said there were more practical issues. Schalliol said that, with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, Daniels has the upper hand.

"The point is our (plan) is on the table," he said. "It's going to move forward, and it will do the job."

The mayor, meanwhile, seemed to frustrate some members of the committee by agreeing the project could be financed at $53.5 million a year -- about $15 million less than he initially sought.

Peterson said his numbers factored in potential interest rate increases, and he pointed out that he promised any money raised but not needed for the project would revert to the state.

Despite the day's back-and-forth, the mayor acknowledged that the two sides essentially had settled on how to pay for a major project.

"It sounds like we're fighting," he said. "But 98 percent of what we're doing is agreeing."

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Battle heats up for control of new stadium

The Fire Department Instructors Conference draws 25,000 firefighters. It's the city's third largest annual convention, using the RCA Dome and every other inch of space.Conference Director Eric Schlett wants to see the convention center expanded. "I know we are committed to staying here provided we get the additional space."

The firefighters arrived on the scene as debate over the expansion and new stadium heats up, with city and state officials at odds over who controls the project, the city's Capital Improvement Board or a new state board.

"I think in my heart they want it to go, but it will not go unless Marion County has control through the CIB and City-County Council." Council President Steve Talley warns the council won't approve any tax increases to pay for the project if the state insists on oversight of construction and financing. "Is this a deal breaker? It is as far as I'm concerned."

But Governor Mitch Daniels says Talley "better rethink it because I think a big part of the legislature has made it clear, to me at least, that this is an essential element to them."

Senator Murray Clark (R - Indianapolis) says the state needs oversight because it's helping foot the bill and it's financing the project. "We don't want to govern, manage or operate it; but we do want to be involved."

Talley says, "It's difficult to operate a project in which you don't have some say into construction and design of that project."

And the governor calls it "heavy lifting to get to this point and I hope people recognize that no one can get absolutely everything they want, including the city."

Republican Councilor Jim Bradford says Talley doesn't speak for the whole council. Bradford says he sees some merit in state oversight, but won't take a position until he gets more details.

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Construction to start by August 1, approval expected this week

Construction on an Indianapolis Colts stadium could begin this summer after a surprise concession by Mayor Bart Peterson on Friday eliminated the biggest obstacle in the stadium's way.

After months of sometimes-tense negotiations, the mayor announced he would allow the state to take control of the $900 million stadium project, which also includes a massive expansion of the popular Indiana Convention Center.

The mayor called his decision "a bitter pill" that came only after weeks of protest.

"But I have to step back and remember what this project is really all about -- it's about keeping the Colts in Indy for the next 30 years. It's about hosting NCAA Final Fours for decades to come," he said. "It's about making Indianapolis one of the top convention destinations in all of America."

At the Statehouse, Gov. Mitch Daniels said stadium backers "are on the brink of success." Legislative leaders said they expected the House and Senate to pass the stadium-financing bill by the end of next week, when the year's legislative session comes to a close.

The House and Senate votes are not guaranteed, however, and they are just two of the small, but significant, hurdles remaining for the stadium and Convention Center project.

The Indianapolis City-County Council and the counties contiguous to Marion must adopt a series of tax increases that state lawmakers expect to authorize as part of the financing.

In addition, state and city leaders still appear at odds on certain issues, such as the prospect of a ticket tax and the exact makeup of a state board to dole out project contracts.

Nonetheless, "we're looking forward to bringing this home in the coming week," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

A 30-year mortgage

If so, the stadium ground-breaking could occur by Aug. 1. Marion County taxpayers will spend the next 30 years helping to pay for the project. Hotel tax rates will jump to 9 percent from 6 percent, while the local car rental tax rate will double to 4 percent.

Visitors will largely pay those taxes, stadium backers say. But Marion County and the seven counties that border it are also being asked to implement new 1 percent restaurant taxes that will hit families going out to eat and even grocery store shoppers who buy certain prepared foods.

In basic terms, the tax would add 20 cents to a $20 restaurant tab.

Suburban officials interviewed Friday supported the tax, in part because their cash-strapped governments would get a share of the revenue generated.

Other project money would come from the state, which plans to give to the effort about $11 million a year in state taxes generated at Indianapolis sports and convention facilities.

The governor defended an investment in a new stadium. He noted the support for such an investment by the mayor and leaders in the surrounding counties.

"This is an economic development project," he said.

Friday's developments appeared to pave the way for one of the biggest public works projects in Indianapolis history. The 63,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium would replace the RCA Dome, where the Colts have played since arriving in Indianapolis 21 years ago.

Pleasant side effects expected

The new stadium would be built to the south of the Dome, perhaps sparking a new round of development in the area around South Street and Capitol Avenue.

Deputy Mayor Steve Campbell predicted the new stadium would lead to new commercial, retail or residential projects nearby.

"That tends to happen in the area around these kinds of developments," he said.

The stadium is expected to cost $625 million, including $125 million in preconstruction costs, such as land acquisition and site preparation. The Colts are kicking in $100 million, but only after the city pays the team $48 million to terminate the current stadium lease.

Many lawmakers and others have suggested the Colts could have given more.

"It would have helped," Daniels said.

Officials for the Colts, who have agreed to sign a new, 30-year lease in return for the stadium, could not be reached Friday. Team owner Jim Irsay and others are preparing for today's NFL draft, a spokeswoman said.

Besides the Colts games, the new venue would regularly have the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Final Four basketball tournaments and large-scale convention events. And clearing the RCA Dome site -- where the Colts play now -- would create room to expand the Convention Center.

The $275 million expansion would begin in 2008, after the new stadium opened. The expansion would nearly double the size of the Convention Center.

Bob Schultz, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau, said many of the city's biggest conventions are outgrowing Indianapolis. The expansion would secure those events and give the city the chance to bid on bigger conventions.

"It continues this dream of advancing this city into a major metropolitan area," Schultz said of the expansion.

The plan is to connect the Convention Center to the stadium, either above or under the ground. That will ensure Indianapolis remains one of only two cities that have convention centers linked to stadiums with roofs, he said. The other city is St. Louis.

Daniels said the city's design plans for the stadium and the Convention Center would not be altered. He also said the city would operate the new buildings once they were built.

Throughout the year, the stadium project has found itself in trouble time and again, as political leaders squabbled about a lengthy series of failed financing proposals. Even as the project took a giant step forward Friday, the political tensions were still obvious.

The mayor made clear he did not agree with the governor's insistence on state control, and Democratic City-County Councilwoman Jackie Nytes accused the governor of "micromanaging."

Statehouse Republicans accused the mayor of not being realistic.

"Most taxpayers in Indiana were not prepared to write a blank check for $900 million to the city of Indianapolis," Daniels said.

Tensions were expected from the start. Republicans control the governor's office and the General Assembly. The mayor, on the other hand, is a Democrat and considered by many a possible future candidate for governor.

In recent weeks, the issue of control has stymied talks. Defying decades of tradition, the governor insisted that a state board, and not the city's Capital Improvement Board, oversee the project. After fighting that idea, Peterson acknowledged political reality.

"The state is going to control it; the Republicans are going to control it," he said. "The governor has demanded it, and he will be able to get what he wants."

In relinquishing control of construction, the city would give up the right to award lucrative contracts for financing the stadium.

Under the plan the mayor described Friday, a seven-member state building authority would oversee financing and construction.

A five-member panel would award certain contracts, dealing with design and insurance, possibly. The mayor and the governor would each appoint two members to that panel. The process of selecting the fifth member was in dispute.

The mayor said he and the governor would jointly fill that post, but Republicans said the GOP would make the decision.

In another area of disagreement, Republicans continue to push for a $3 tax on tickets to Colts games at the new facility. The mayor said that was unnecessary, and city officials worry the tax could lead the Colts to back away from the deal.

While some Democrats complained about the loss of city control, Democratic City-County Council President Steve Talley expects to support the tax increases needed to build a stadium.

He predicted a majority of the council would do the same, but only after "a big selling job."

Talley initially had said Democrats on the council would not support the governor controlling the construction of the project. But on Friday, he said the plan to have the city operate the stadium once it is completed was key.

Council Republican leader Phil Borst said it was too early to predict how Republicans would vote. But he said there was a good chance he would support the financing plan.

Despite his obvious disappointment, the mayor said there was reason for Indianapolis to celebrate. The Democrat, after all, appears on the verge of getting a stadium and Convention Center project through the Republican-dominated Statehouse.

"I need to set aside my feelings and do what's right for our city and do what's best to get this project done," he said.

1,414 Posts
Rev. Peterson

Did you see the accompanying photo of Mayor Peterson? It reminded me of Jimmy Swaggart upon admitting that he had traipsed around with that floosy Jessica Hahn! Hahaha

I have sinned against you, my taxpayers!!

3,403 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Stadium wins, 108-36


What's next?

Here is a look at the likely future steps for the stadium, according to early versions of the bill:
• ASAP: Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.
• By June 30: The newly created seven-member state building authority, which will oversee construction of the stadium and be controlled by Republicans, would have its first meeting.
• By June 30: The Indianapolis City-County Council has until then to pass the main sources of project funding: increases in county hotel, car rental and restaurant taxes.
• By June 30: Suburban counties have until then to implement 1 percent restaurant taxes. Half of the money from those taxes, up to $5 million annually, would go to the project.
• Aug. 1: Officials hope to break ground on the stadium, with a completion target of 2008.
• 2008: Massive expansion of the Convention Center is expected to begin on the site of the RCA Dome, the Colts' current home.
• In 2010: Convention Center expansion is scheduled to be completed.

After four months of sometimes angry debate, the General Assembly took a crucial step toward solidifying the city's NFL future Friday night by easily approving a financing plan for a new Colts stadium and expanded Indiana Convention Center.

The vote paves the way for the start of one of the biggest public works projects in Indianapolis history and appears to end years of questions about whether the Colts are here to stay.

"We are going to expand the Convention Center, and we are going to build a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts to play in for 30 more years," Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson said. "This is really an extraordinary project."

It was also an extraordinary debate, one that stretched back to 2002, when the mayor began formal negotiations with Colts owner Jim Irsay. At times, many wondered whether the Colts were going to leave for Los Angeles or elsewhere in search of a bigger market and greater riches.

But after years of uncertainty, it appears Colts fans can relax.

"There is still much to be accomplished and many issues to be resolved before the new venue becomes a reality," Irsay said in a statement. "But tonight the project has taken a big step forward."

The team would not detail the outstanding issues.

As the mayor watched from behind a glass door outside the chamber, the Senate passed the legislation 46-3 late Friday night. Less than an hour later, with the mayor once again watching and the clock nearing 11 p.m., the House passed the measure 62-33.

"It's a great day, a historic day, really," said Sen. J. Murray Clark, R-Indianapolis.

Officials said the vote means work could begin this summer on the 63,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium, the first piece of the roughly $900 million Downtown project. Gov. Mitch Daniels, who won control of the project from the mayor during the session's debate this year, has promised the stadium will be ready for the 2008 NFL season.

For residents and businesses, the long-sought votes mean a series of local taxes likely will increase. If local governments act by early summer, the stadium and Convention Center project will be funded with increases in Marion County restaurant, hotel and car rental taxes, and with revenues from new restaurant taxes in the seven counties that border Indianapolis.

The state is kicking in about $11 million a year by redirecting state taxes generated at the city's sports and convention facilities.

City officials say the project offers a dramatic array of opportunities for Indianapolis. The NCAA has agreed to have several Final Four basketball tournaments at the stadium in the coming decades, and the NFL has suggested the city would have a good chance of winning one of the biggest events in all of American sports -- a Super Bowl.

Moreover, the Convention Center is set to nearly double in size once the stadium is built to the south of the RCA Dome. The Convention Center expansion would take place on the Dome's site.

The city was upset the bill does not include money to run the new venues. "But when all is said and done, that was not enough to overwhelm the project," said Fred Glass, the Indianapolis attorney who led the mayor's negotiations with the Colts.

Sealing the deal

For much of the day, and, for that matter, the year, the fate of the stadium project had been in doubt. But in the end, a pair of issues far from the spotlight persuaded Peterson and other Democrats to support it.

While the governor will control a new, seven-member state stadium authority, the mayor will have nearly equal representation on a sub-board that will award many construction contracts. Moreover, Republicans agreed to guarantee that minority-owned businesses would receive at least 15 percent of the project's contracts and that women-owned businesses would receive at least 5 percent of the work.

"We're going to fight to see those goals are exceeded," Peterson said.

Friday's vote was a cap on the mayor's long effort to keep the Colts in Indianapolis. That process began in earnest in 2002, when Peterson and Irsay first met with the goal of finding a way to boost the team's financial situation. Before long, talks centered on a new stadium to replace the aging and, by NFL standards, small RCA Dome.

The city saw a particular incentive to work out a deal. Under the details of the team's current lease, the city faced the prospect of paying the Colts more than $12 million a year to keep the team in the coming years. And with or without the payments, the Colts' lease would expire at the end of the 2013 season.

All along, Irsay made it clear he was committed to Indianapolis. But he also pointed many times to the challenge of competing in one of the NFL's smallest markets, and his worries left the team's future in Indianapolis in doubt.

In December, Peterson and Irsay reached an agreement: The team would sign a new, 30-year lease, and the city largely would finance a $500 million stadium, as well as $125 million in land acquisition and other costs.

City and team officials have defended the deal, pointing out that the Colts get no financial guarantees similar to those in the current lease that force the city to pay if the team's revenues lag most of the league.

After his years of work, Friday's action was bittersweet for Peterson, who must now turn the project over to the governor. He said he wasn't worried about that.

"The real important thing," he said, "is we had to get this thing done."

Difficult negotiations

After the sometimes-difficult negotiations between the city and the Colts, the mayor's dealings with the Republican-controlled Statehouse proved even trickier. Lawmakers quickly rejected the mayor's proposal that taxes from a new Downtown casino pay for the stadium. Later, a plan to add slot machines at two racetracks also failed. Several other ideas -- calling for taxes on everything from haircuts to NFL player salaries -- also faltered.

Eventually, the governor's plan to finance the project mostly with restaurant, hotel and car rental tax increases gained support.

"I think it shows we can work together," said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who crafted the final legislation and wore a Colts cap as the Senate voted.

House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said the debate had been stressful at times. But, "All's well that ends well," he said.

1,000 Posts
Great news for Indy. Too bad Republicans and the state control the building authority because that means the convention center expansion will likely be a continuation of the boring, suburban architecture of the current convention center.

Hopefully there will be news in the coming months of a 1000+ room convention hotel to go along with the expansion. And hopefully it will be a high rise instead of something similar to the Mariott and Westin.

90 Posts
Woohoo! I am just glad that they finally got it all worked out and the Colts are here to stay.

Now the folks in Minneapolis, New Orleans, Buffalo and San Diego can worry about their respective team being the one that the NFL chooses to go to LA. Actually, I am so sick of franchises moving that I honestly wish that they'd solve the San Diego stadium problem by building a stadium in Orange County, halfway between LA and San Diego, and calling the team the SoCal Chargers.

1,000 Posts
Convention payoffs won’t be instant
New deals, development unlikely until construction begins

By Andrea Muirragui Davis
[email protected]

The much-ballyhooed battle about funding for a new stadium and expanded convention center downtown appears to be over, but it will be some time before the victors get the spoils.

Although state lawmakers authorized a series of tax increases to pay for the $900 million project, plenty of work remains to realize the promised payoffs—increased convention business, additional development and a shot at hosting the Super Bowl.

“I don’t expect to see any of that until construction starts,” said Indianapolis City-County Council President Steve Talley. “People want to see a hole in the ground and steel going up in the air before they make a commitment.”

Still, those who spent years making a case for the public investment are pleased with the results of the often-contentious debate: If local governments get on board as expected, construction will begin this summer.

“I’m thrilled that this is done, that the project is going to become a reality,” said Fred Glass, president of the Capital Improvement Board, which owns and manages the convention center and sports facilities. “Two or three years ago ... the idea that we could somehow find enough money to pay for this was crazy. Some thought the mountain was too big to climb. I’m really pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

That said, there are still some hurdles.

Legislation authorizing the project wrests control away from CIB and gives it to a new seven-member state board that will oversee design and construction. The transition began immediately—even before members were appointed—in hopes of keeping the work on schedule.

And county officials throughout the region still must deliver on their promise to approve higher food and beverage taxes to pay for the project. In Indianapolis, the City-County Council will consider four separate tax increases, with a fifth possible if the state board deems it necessary.

“It is going to be a difficult task to get the funding approved by the council,” Talley asserted. “It’s going to take a full-court press … Folks cannot assume the council is going to rubber-stamp anything.”

Councilors have expressed concern about the number of tax hikes and the city’s loss of control, he said.

“All of us want to see this come to a successful conclusion,” Talley said. “It’s a great project. I love being part of it. But I can’t overemphasize how much is still left to be done.”

Indeed, that work has begun.

CIB is turning over years’ worth of studies, status reports, contracts and other documents to the state. Because officials want the stadium ready for the 2008 NFL season, CIB has already hired an architect and construction manager.

Dallas-based HKS Inc. and Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis have worked on a contingency basis so far, but they will remain on the job. The new board will review a dozen or so other agreements, however, before making commitments to other consultants CIB hired.

Glass said the transition to state control must be complete by May 15.

“It’s a comprehensive hand-off,” he said, “a clean break.”

The legislation, which hadn’t made it to the governor’s desk by IBJ’s deadline, requires the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority to have its first meeting by June 30.

Gov. Mitch Daniels was moving quickly to make his four appointments to the board, said Chief of Staff Harry Gonso, and fully expects it to be operational well before the end of June.

State finance officials also sprang into action, moving to lock in interest rates right away.

“The financing won’t wait,” said Chuck Schalliol, director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. “We have to move forward on this.”

By the time the deal closes late next month, the state needs to see a stadium lease with the Indianapolis Colts and must reach its own agreement with CIB, which will operate the facilities when they’re complete.

The state will own the property and improvements until the debt is repaid. A few parcels of land still must be acquired, but Glass said CIB plans to hand over property it owns at the site.

Stakes are high and the time line is aggressive.

All the better to win back two major trade shows that are leaving the Circle City because of a convention center space crunch. Both Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association and Performance Racing Industry have said they’ll return in 2010 if the center is expanded.

Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association President Bob Bedell and his staff have been busy spreading the good news—to existing customers and potential clients alike. But they still can’t book new business for the expanded space.

“We will start some discussions, continue some discussions and hopefully sometime in the not-too-distant future be in a position to close deals,” Bedell said. “I don’t think we’ll be able to do a lot of selling until we have a final design for the convention center expansion.”

Still, it’s a huge load off his shoulders to know it’s coming.

Legislative approval “was obviously a big step in the process and hopefully the most difficult,” Bedell said. “We feel like everything will proceed the way it’s supposed to from here on out.”

So what’s next?

Observers suspect plans for a new convention center hotel and other ancillary development will surface before long, although probably not until stadium construction is under way.

“Finalizing the financing was a major event,” said Melina Maniatis Kennedy, deputy mayor for economic development. “There is a whole new level of certainty that this [project] is going to happen. I think we’ll see a higher level of interest in development.

“[But] it’s certainly a long-term proposition.”

Another future possibility—if not probability—is a Super Bowl, given the National Football League’s recent history of rewarding cities that invest in new facilities. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue visited lawmakers this spring to support the stadium project.

League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that a new stadium could make Indianapolis a candidate for the big game, but said those discussions haven’t progressed.

Team owners are scheduled to vote later this month on a site for the 2009 game; Indianapolis isn’t a contender. This spring, they conditionally awarded the 2010 game to New York City, where a stadium is planned for the west side of Manhattan. And last month, Tagliabue all but promised Dallas a Super Bowl in 2011 or 2012, when its new stadium is complete.

Indianapolis likely would have to make a formal pitch for the game when it’s ready, Aiello said.

Glass remains “very optimistic” that a Super Bowl is in Indianapolis’ future. But he’ll keep plenty busy in the meantime.

“When all is said and done, I hope everyone views this as an important step for the city and the region and it will pass,” he said. “There is work to do, but the major lifting has been successful. We’re running downhill now.”
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