I was invited to appear on Fox 59's first "Faceoff" segment, during which two members of the community debate "issues of the day." The topic for myself and NUVO contributor (and talented writer) Andrew Roberts was whether the City should absorb the $15-$18 million cost of operating Conseco, thereby "bailing out" the Pacers. Here's my statement, which is a bit more detailed than what any 2-minute video can allow:
I don't want the Pacers to leave. But the City should not give an extra dime to millionaire ballplayers and billionaire owners when it's on pace to set a homicide record, can't pay for basic services like libraries and transportation, and has to use deficit spending, back-door tax hikes for sidewalks and roads.
The Pacers have not even shown us their books, so we have no idea how leanly they operate. All we know is they pay more in player salaries than one-third of the teams, and the NBA will almost certainly adopt NFL-style revenue sharing when it creates a new collective bargaining agreement at the end of 2011. How foolish will we look opening up the public coffers when bad management put the Pacers in the hole via low attendance and costs, and we can see the smoke from the money train pulling into the Pacers' station?
Most observers do not believe the Pacers could find a better deal in any other small-market city, they would have to pay between $50 and $150 million to move, and every objective study shows that when a team relocates, the psychological loss is real, but the economic one isn't. You can't even call this proposal a "bailout" because that connotes an opportunity to recover the dollars government provided. So far, all the Pacers have said publicly is that the taxpayers should eat a cost the Pacers agreed to cover. Sorry, but we're stuffed right now.
Here's the video segment: