Pacers to kick in $63M as part of deal to keep team in Indianapolis

The Indiana Pacers would have some skin in the game under legislation the Indiana Senate approved Tuesday to keep the team in town for another 25 years. 

In asking for support for Senate Bill 7,  Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler told the Senate the Pacers were kicking in $115 million for facility upgrades, a figure that had previously not been reported.

Former state Sen. Luke Kenley, who is lobbying on behalf of the Pacers, told IndyStar that about $63 million of that amount would be new money for improvements to the stadium and related facilities, such as the parking garage. He said roughly $52 million of the $115 million is cash the team has already spent on its practice facility. 

That facility opened across from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2017.

The Senate voted 48-1 on the bill, which would allow the Marion County Capital Improvement Board to raise money from special taxing districts Downtown. 

The bill would give the Pacers and the CIB until April to negotiate a long-term lease extension, which would include cash for upgrades and operations at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Kenley has said the Pacers and CIB have been discussing a 25-year deal, which also is the minimum amount allowable under Mishler’s bill.

Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, was the lone “no” vote. He believes the legislature should allow certain taxes included in the bill to expire, as they would without this legislation, over the next decade, including on sporting tickets and certain car rentals.

Mishler said taxing districts centered around Pan Am Plaza and the two hotels under construction near Bankers Life Fieldhouse would capture up to $7 million annually for the CIB. He said another Downtown taxing district would capture $6 million annually for the state, $8 million annually for the CIB and direct any excess of that to the state.

In addition to providing funding for Bankers Life and the Convention Center, the CIB would use money authorized in the bill for more minor improvements to Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field. 

The bill would also grant the governor two of the nine appointments to the CIB board.

The Pacers have been floating the idea of publicly funding upgrades to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for two years. Kenley has said the team wants to build upon the interactive fan experience but didn’t have specifics.

The bill also includes funding mechanisms for an expansion of the Indiana Convention Center on Pan Am Plaza and a $150 million soccer stadium for the Indy Eleven.

Under the terms being discussed, the city would direct $120 million from special taxing districts to the convention center and $18 million toward infrastructure at the two hotels under construction near Bankers Life.

The highlight of the convention center expansion would be a 50,000-square-foot ballroom linked by a covered walkway over Capitol Avenue to the main convention center. The expansion goes hand in hand with two Hilton-brand hotels under development.

Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at 317-444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich.


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