INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Taxpayers will continue to subsidize the Indiana Pacers. According to the 2014 Capital Improvement Board budget, $21 million has been set aside to offset operating costs for the Pacers and pay for improvement to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
A long-term deal to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis was still being negotiated in late August.
"We believe we are going to have an agreement between now and the end of the year. So we thought it was very prudent to put those dollars in the budget," said CIB President Ann Lathrop.
The Pacers' current contract runs out in 2019. However, beginning next year, clauses in the contract enable the team to move to another city if the team wants to go.
Offering taxpayer dollars to subsidize the team is nothing new. In 2010 the CIB agreed to pay the Pacers $33.5 million over three years to help offset financial losses. Sports marketing expert Larry DeGaris calls it the cost of doing business for any city that wants a professional sports team.
"The economic reality of professional sports today is everyone has to contribute," said DeGaris, who teaches marketing at the University of Indianapolis. "In order to make this financial model sustainable, everybody has got to work together and that's what is happening."
Degaris says the $10 million budgeted for maintenance and upgrades to Banker's Life Fieldhouse will benefit the Pacers and every other team, organization, or show that uses the space.
"The Fieldhouse is still holding up tremendously well over time. There are a lot of facilities that age quickly. They can become obsolete much more rapidly," said DeGaris.
Taxpayers appear to be getting a return on their investment. According to the city, the Pacers has an economic impact of at least $55 million each year. That doesn't include post season games.
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