(INDIANAPOLIS) – The Indy Eleven, the Indiana Pacers, and the Convention Center all get what they wanted from a bill headed to Governor Holcomb’s desk.
The Senate has given final approval to a bill authorizing state backing for the construction of a new soccer stadium for the Eleven. The team plans to make a stadium the centerpiece of a broader development dubbed Eleven Park. The bill also funds improvements to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and a new convention center ballroom, with skywalks linking the convention center to two new upscale hotels. And it shores up the finances of the Capital Improvement Board, which is in charge of operating the downtown stadiums and the convetntion center.
Some of he money will come from an expansion of the downtown “sports development area,” which earmarks a slice of taxes collected at downtown stadiums and hotels for the C-I-B. The rest comes from a 17-year extension of taxes on rental cars and event tickets which were set to expire four years from now.
A statement from the Eleven thanks legislators and predicts the bill will “kick off a new era for Indy Eleven professional soccer” and create an “opportunity to secure the future of the world’s game in our capital city.” Major League Soccer announced plans last week to add three expansion teams, though two of those teams are expected to go to St. Louis and Sacramento.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) says the downtown developments benefit the entire state with the tourism and tax dollars they bring in — Indianapolis Senator Greg Taylor (D) says the Pacers alone have contracts with 90 different Indiana vendors across the state. And Lafayette Senator Ron Alting (R) says the reverse is true too. He says Indy’s booming convention business continues demanding more and better meeting and hotel space, and if those events relocate to get it, they’ll never come back.
Four Senate Republicans voted no. Indianapolis Republican Mike Young predicts the taxes will just be extended again before 2040, and says the C-I-B should do a better job of managing its budget.
(Photo: Keystone Group)