Thursday, April 2, 2009

Now Ballard Hates Plan For Which He Appeared at Press Conference?

In the interest of fairness to Mayor Ballard, I need to share this.

The Indianapolis Business Journal writes that at a senate appropriations committee hearing today, Mayor Greg Ballard "wasn't shy about sharing his dislike for the (CIB bailout plan), namely the increase to the hotel and food and beverage taxes." Ballard said, "I'm scared to death ... of killing our convention business, the very thing that we're all here trying to support."

Okay, so the Mayor gets that this plan is a very bad thing. So did he use his bully pulpit to ask anybody NOT to vote for the bill. Of course not.....whiiiich is not surprising since he also "underscored the Pacers' and Colts' importance in promoting and growing the city and state."

He's like Mayor Rainman: "I definitely want to keep the Pacers, pay $47 million more for the CIB, and not raise taxes. Definitely."

I agree that it's cool to hear ESPN say, "We're coming to you from downtown Indianapolis" because it's free name ID for the city. But can anybody identify a specific company that located in Indianapolis because of the Pacers OR Colts? Can anybody me in touch with the convention booker who said, "I wasn't even thinking about Indianapolis for our Baptist convention, but I saw that amazing catch by Reggie Wayne, and now I'm sold!" In contrast, who can show me the person who has said, "Yeah, Louisville has reasonably priced hotels and fees and a great nightlife, but we can't have our convention there because they don't have an NFL football team. We'd rather pay more and go to Indianapolis? That way we can all say we stayed in a city that won a superbowl!



Paul K. Ogden said...

On another blog, I actually heard Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Marion County GOP, actually claiming that people have their conventions here so they can go to Pacers and Colts games. Yeah, right.

I can't defend the Mayor. I think it's pretty certain at this point he's governed so badly and angered so many Republicans, that he'll have a very credible opponent in the 2011 primary.

Dave Stone said...

The argument that sports help with convention business isn't QUITE as ludicrous as it's phrased here. I'd say look at it that way: downtown sports by itself would support a certain number of restaurants and bars. Convention business by itself would support a certain number of restaurants and bars. Downtown bankers and lawyers and such would support a certain number of restaurants and bars.

BUT put them all together in the same place, and they can support a larger number of bars and restaurants than any one segment could on its own. That is in itself one of the things that attracts convention business: plenty of places to eat and drink downtown. Take away downtown sports and you lose some of the dollars that keep a vibrant downtown, and that in turn makes Indianapolis less attractive as a convention destination.

None of this should be read as an argument in favor a specific bailout package. I don't have a dog in that fight.

Anonymous said...

2 of the larger conventions, Future farmers of America and GenCon happen in the summer. Think they will still show up after this TAX HIKE?

iPOPA said...


If that's true than have Dan Tierney tell you which one so we can contact them and verify their story.


You make a compelling point, and maybe having the Pacers disappear becomes a tipping point that collapses some bars or restaurants. But were I asking the taxpayers to support an increase, I would certainly have the restaurants that benefit from receipts on game night talking about it. Instead, their lobbyist was saying no on the tax increase. While this might reflect a split between downtown owners and everybody else, or simple self-interest, it might also signal that the benefit the Pacers allegedly give isn't as great as the loss to sales from lost convention business and foregone dinners out.

Sean Shepard said...

Let's look at something Dave Stone said only with an eye towards economics.

It's suggested that having the Colts and/or Pacers downtown supports restaurants or other establishments.

It is more accurate to say that by providing taxpayer subsidized sports establishments (hobbies for rich owners in one case, the family business in another) that government is intervening in the marketplace to redistribute restaurants or patronage to such from areas outside of downtown.

The people who flock to downtown in many cases would have spent money closer to their home supporting their local establishments. Without the sports teams, they also would have possibly spent their money in other ways (home improvements, new bicycle for the kid, going to the movies, saving it [spending by other means], or whatever)

It also creates a government price control by redistributing taxpayer dollars to artificially lower the price of admission to sports establishments, making those games more competitive or more attractive than other entertainment options.

True free markets don't allow for the government to pick winners and losers by redistributing dollars, using force of government, from taxpayers to create artificial supports for private corporations.

Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans would unite arm in arm (I like to think)if all of us were going to be taxed more so that a private company like The Finish Line (great company - headquartered here in Indy) could sell expensive basketball shoes to their customers at big discounts.

(note: consideration to other tax redistributions like abatements purposely ignored for brevity)

Other arguments I don't hear people making relate to how every city on the planet is trying to promote, push and expand their convention business right now - increasing cost to convene in Indy is a bad, bad idea since competition is increasing.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Dave Stone,

The Pacers and Colts only have events 41 + 10 days a year. While some downtown businesses have been helped by the teams, rarely does a bar or restaurant start up because of the professional sports.

And of course, having those events downtown merely take away from businesses elsewhere. It's a zero sum game. You should have heard the restaurant and bar people who weren't located downtown claim about their loss of business during game days.

Write Man said...

Perhaps you can answer this: Why aren't we taxing the players (in a much more meaningful way than CIB's doing now, which amounts to roughly $1 million and change annually) so they have a stake in all this, rather than just looking to the owners? After all, if we didn't build the venues (Conseco, LOS) there would be no place for them to earn their salaries. Consider it a usage fee. The Colts player payroll is $93 million annually. Five percent would be roughly $5 million. Take that and the same from the Pacers (along with ownership stakes) before even thinking about raising any more from taxpayers.

Sean Shepard said...

Taxing the players is targeting the wrong people. They are hired employees and often have very little choice in what team they play for initially out of school.

If everybody got mad at the owners of the airlines and decided to put an extra special tax on pilots, that would seem silly. The pilots didn't make the decisions or negotiate the deals that made someone mad at the airlines (typically - for purposes of this example).

The players didn't negotiate the government subsidized stadium deals.

Cities, leagues and team owners have worked together to create an unworkable economic model for their business in many ways. Cities won't say "no" to teams, teams won't say "no" to players and unions.

It's time for both to start saying, "This is out of control. NO."

The real question is will voters hold elected officials accountable or just resort to their usual "lesser of two evils" partisan ways. When do Americans start to say "NO" to the bozos we continue to elect?