Pacers get yet another arena subsidy from taxpayers

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Indiana really wants to keep the Pacers. Really badly. Really, really badly.

The state keeps funneling taxpayer money to the billion-dollar company and its owner, Herb Simon.

After the latest handout, signed into law by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb yesterday, here’s a recap,

Neil deMause at Deadspin:

  • 1999: Simon receives $79 million in public money (or maybe $191 million, if you count all the hidden subsidies like property tax breaks, which you should) toward a new $200 million arena, for which his team will keep all revenues and pay $1 a year in rent.
  • 2010: With nine years to go on his 20-year lease, Simon gets another $33.5 million to agree not to opt out of his deal for another three years.
  • 2014: Simon extends the Pacers’ lease through 2024, in exchange for $160 million more in public cash.
  • 2019: Oh hell, let’s just make it 2044, and you can give me another $600 million.

Independent studies – not ones commissioned by teams eying these subsidies – have conclusively shown arena deals don’t make the desired economic impact. This “deal” will cost Indiana money that could have gone toward schools, police, etc. or even just back to taxpayers.

Maybe that’s worth it to have a professional basketball team in town, but the state had leverage. Does anyone really think Simon, 84, wanted to become the villain who moved the Pacers from Indiana? If forced to pay for arena upgrades himself, I bet he would have buckled or made do with what’s already one of the league’s nicest arenas.

Instead, politicians rushed to ply the billionaire with taxpayer money. Sadly, as usual.