CIB approves $160M Pacers deal


The Capital Improvement Board has approved a $160 million deal to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis for the next 13 years. The vote was unanimous.

WTHR broke the story last week of a long-term agreement between the Indiana Pacers and the City of Indianapolis.

The deal calls for the city to pay over $140 million to maintain and operate Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which brings scores of concerts and other events to the Fieldhouse, will create a separate entity called Fieldhouse Management to maintain the building.

At the Convention Center on Monday, Mayor Greg Ballard joined Pacers management to outline the deal.

Read the agreement here

Pacers President Jim Morris says the deal will allow Bankers Life Fieldhouse to continue operating in a sound way. He said that the public-private partnership was critical to the city.

The Pacers also talked about a study they commissioned that determined the team pumps $234 million a year into downtown Indianapolis' economy with up to 1,185 jobs dependent on the Pacers. The same study also found 1.7 million annual visits to the Fieldhouse with 20 percent of Pacers tickets being sold to fans outside Indiana.

CIB President Ann Lathrop pointed to the Pacers, Fever and the Fieldhouse itself as three "economic pillars" of downtown Indianapolis.

The CIB will pay half the cost of the $16 million state-of-the-art scoreboard the Pacers unveiled two years ago. At the time, Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Jim Morris said they were paying for it.

"The pacers did buy it. We did own it and now we've made a new deal with the city...and I reiterate, the city and CIB will own the scoreboard it will be their asset," said Jim Morris, Pacers CEO and President.

But the city won't get any advertising revenue from it. Unlike the last deal, though, there's no "out" for the Pacers, even if they're losing money.

Under the new agreement, the Capital Improvement Board will pay the new management entity $7.1 million a year for operations. The CIB will also pay vendors directly for things like utilities, security and off-site storage at a cost of $3.7 million a year, bringing the total to nearly $11 million a year.

The deal also calls for $26.5 million for capital improvements to the Fieldhouse, including upgrades to locker rooms, concessions and LED boards, plus another $7 million for items that need to be replaced, like carpeting.

Critics call that a hefty price given the city's need for more police officers and extensive pothole repairs.

According to Mayor Greg Ballard, "Funding for this agreement cannot by law be used for other things like police or potholes. It's money generated from downtown visitors and ticket holders solely to support downtown sports and the convention center."

He said keeping the Pacers won't require any new taxes, though the CIB will dip into reserves for improvements to the Fieldhouse.

"The board directed those dollars to be set aside for future large capital expenses such as what we'll see at Bankers Life Fieldhouse," explained CIB President Ann Lathrop.