Surprise! Those grand promises politicians and team owners made to taxpayers in their pitches for publicly-funded sports stadiums? They aren’t panning out.
In Indianapolis, city and state officials are considering tax increases because brand-new Lucas Oil Field, home of the Colts (who got a sweetheart deal), is $25 million in the red, and projected to hit $45 million in coming years. Meanwhile, the Pacers are expected to exercise an option to renegotiate the terms of their lease on 10-year-old Conseco Fieldhouse. The team says their current business model “isn’t viable.” They pay one dollar per year to the city to rent the facility.
In D.C., the promised economic renaissance in the city’s Southeast corridor that would be spurred by the $693 million-dollar, publicly-funded Nationals Stadium hasn’t materialized either, even in a city largely immune to broader economic downturns. Office space around the park remains largely vacant.
But even if state governments eventually wise up to these ripoffs, there’s always the feds. Just as things were looking gloomy for New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s plan to build a $4.2 billion, Frank Gehry-designed, mixed-use facility and basketball stadium in Brooklyn, Ratner found new hope: He has hired former Sen. Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm to procure a cut of the stimulus package President Obama signed into law today.