City defends $160M Pacers deal


City leaders are defending a $160 million deal with the Indiana Pacers a day after WTHR broke the story on the new long-term contract.

Some residents question how the city can spend that much when it has so many other needs, but city leaders say the Pacers provide a bump to the local economy and help the city's image.

The mayor's office is glad to see the Pacers staying put in Indianapolis.

"The Indiana Pacers, the Fever, they attract hundreds of thousands of people to downtown," said Marc Lotter, mayoral spokesman.

But keeping the Pacers here will cost the city an average of $16 million a year, or at least $160 million over the next decade. That's a dollar amount even some fans wonder about.

"It's a lot of cash. I love the Pacers, but..." said one woman.

But Lotter is quick to say that money isn't going to the team per se but to run and manage the Fieldhouse, which hosts a lot more than basketball.

"We have to remember that this is actually just the city working with the Pacers on the management and operation of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This has nothing to do with the team operations. They operate, manage the Fieldhouse and this is basically to help close the gap in terms of what it costs to operate that facility," he said.

Dan McQuiston, who teaches marketing at Butler, says while keeping the team does comes at a price, there are intangible benefits.

"It keeps Indianapolis a professional sports city. We're known as being that. We have the Colts. We have the Pacers. Of course we've got the Indy 500. That keeps us in the level of one of the elite sports cities in the country," said McQuiston.

The city's Capital Improvement Board votes on the deal Monday afternoon. It doesn't need any further approval, so it would take effect immediately.