The Indiana Senate has approved a bill that will provide the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) an estimated $8.5 million in extra revenue and give the Indiana Pacers a 25-year lease extension to stay in Indianapolis.
Language to fund a $150 million, 20,000 seat soccer stadium to attract a Major League Soccer (MLS) team was also included in the bill.
The bill generates the money from extending the life of tourism and entertainment taxes that fund the CIB. In order to receive the money, the Pacers’ and CIB must sign a 25-year agreement before April 1.
The CIB, which manages the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium (ICC & LOS), needs the money to replace $8 million that is being directed to annually pay off bonds for the $120 million expansion of the Convention Center, which includes building two new hotels at the Pan Am Plaza and future renovations on Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The bill will immediately affect Indianapolis because of the additional funding the CIB will receive. Along with owning Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center, they also own Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Victory Field. Maintaining these tourist sites is crucial for Indianapolis’ economy, allowing them to continue to host major conventions like Gen Con or another Super Bowl.
Indianapolis leaders know there is room for tourism improvement. “We cannot afford to sit idle,” said Chris Gahl, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Indy. “Other major cities are quickly approaching and looking to pass.”
For Indy Eleven, this bill keeps their hopes alive to attract an MLS team to Indianapolis. Before they receive taxpayer money, Indy Eleven must come to a 25-year agreement with a MLS team by 2022 and must front 20% of the stadium’s construction cost. MLS also charges a $150 million expansion fee.
This comes after Indy Eleven’s majority owner Ersal Ozdemir proposed a $550 million stadium redevelopment called Eleven Park back in January. $150 million of that is being asked for stadium costs and the other $400 million comes from private investors to build office spaces, apartment units, a 200-room boutique hotel, and retail space. No location has been chosen yet.