The Indianapolis Colts released the following letter Thursday concerning recent debate over whether the team should contribute to bailout out the Capital Improvement Board:
Much has been reported and communicated about the Colts over the past several months, including several statements which have been either misleading or simply untrue. We would like to set the record straight by sharing with you facts of the Colts' financial contributions to the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis and the club's significant investment in the building and on-going operation of Lucas Oil Stadium.
First and foremost, the Indianapolis Colts have not sought in the past, nor is the club currently seeking, any special favors from the CIB, the City of Indianapolis, or the State of Indiana.
· The Colts never asked for a new stadium. In 2004, the City of Indianapolis approached the Colts about the possibility of a new stadium, not the other way around. The City's need for an expanded convention center and desire to accommodate the NCAA for future Final Fours prompted its exploration of a facility to replace the RCA Dome. At no time did the Colts threaten to leave Indianapolis or otherwise "hold the city hostage."
· The Colts negotiated in good faith with the State and the City and eventually entered into a development agreement with the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority (ISCBA), governing the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, and a lease with the CIB, governing the Colts' use of the stadium.
· The Colts made a 30-year commitment to the community. Those written agreements, signed nearly four years ago, committed the team to this community for the next 30 years with no option to renegotiate, regardless of any financial downturns that might arise.
· The Colts agreed to take the risk and responsibility to achieve financial success in Indianapolis. The new agreements also removed the financial guarantees for the Colts that existed in our RCA Dome lease that could have cost the city tens of millions of dollars on a regular basis. In essence, the risk of financial success in a small market has been shifted from the city solely to the Colts.
· The Colts have been meticulous in meeting and, indeed, often exceeding the requirements of those agreements. We have contributed over $100 Million to the construction of the facility and it is simply untrue for anyone to suggest we don't have "skin in the game."
· It is also important to note that, from the very beginning, Lucas Oil Stadium was designed to be a multi-use facility to accommodate many users, not just the Colts. Already, the stadium has successfully hosted many events having nothing whatsoever to do with professional football and many more are already scheduled for years to come. While we are immensely proud to be able to call Lucas Oil Stadium our home field, the fact of the matter is the Colts only use the stadium a maximum of nineteen days a year; and the facility is available for use by virtually anyone else the remaining 346 days.
Second, the Colts have been engaged in extensive dialogue, based upon facts and equity, with those leaders who are working hard to find a solution to the CIB funding shortfall. Jim Irsay has personally met with Senator Luke Kenley and Mayor Greg Ballard to discuss these matters. Our representatives have also been in frank, open, and continuing communication with the CIB and the financial leaders of the state legislature since this issue began to emerge early last winter.
Third, our understanding of the CIB's history is that the CIB's budget shortfall is neither new nor unexpected. In fact, only a relatively small portion of the predicted shortfall can be directly attributed to the increase in actual maintenance and operations expense required by Lucas Oil Stadium. What is particularly puzzling is that the shortfall appears to have only become a crisis when the CIB concluded it might be obliged to assume all the operating costs of Conseco Fieldhouse to avoid an early termination of the Pacers' lease.
Fourth, the Colts believe recent criticism of its civic involvement to be unwarranted and unfair. We are extremely proud to have one of professional sports' most comprehensive community outreach programs. While we are deeply involved statewide, we have not predicated charitable giving and civic involvement upon how much public acclaim the club gets in return. The Colts remain committed to that approach.
Fifth, the Colts' commitment to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana has also included providing an exemplary football team on and off the field. The club has invested heavily in recruiting players and coaches of which Indianapolis and the State of Indiana can be proud -- on game days and all the other days they make positive contributions to our communities.
There are no more positive role models than Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, and Jeff Saturday. We believe the Colts' record in wins as well as community leadership speaks for itself. In anticipation of this weekend's NFL Draft, the Colts are preparing to make multi-year and multi-million dollar commitments to the next generation of leaders like those three.
The Colts remain optimistic that a fair and equitable solution will be found that assures the fiscal good health of the CIB, an organization that is very important to the long-term success of Indianapolis and the entire State of Indiana. We hope, though, that the public discussions of the issues will be based upon facts.
The Indianapolis Colts