View Full Version : After long review, stadium's a mistake

07-15-2005, 10:03 AM


I am standing in the middle of the South Lot, pelted by a cool, steady, cleansing rain. I am gazing a couple of hundred yards north toward the RCA Dome, thinking how this whole area is going to start changing in the next few months when the digging begins.

And yet, I don't find myself dreaming of a future Super Bowl, or luxury suites or even the new sightlines we'll have in the press box.

Instead, I find myself feeling a little bit queasy, a little bit guilty, like a man in a limousine, driving through the poorest part of town with a bottle of champagne at my side.

I find myself realizing that to this very day, the only argument I've heard in favor of building the new stadium is this:

We've got to expand the Convention Center, and the only place we can expand is onto the current Dome site, so we will have to move a new stadium south.

That sounds like, "We need to put a three-car garage on the house because I just bought a new Corvette, Escalade and BMW."

Even the usual argument in favor of stadium construction -- "If we don't build it, the Colts will leave" -- cannot be used in good conscience. The Colts never threatened to leave, even if there were some implied threats to that effect. In fact, at one point in this process, team owner Jim Irsay said a new stadium wasn't the answer, and wondered if the city could support an expanded stadium with far more expensive seats.

I've heard reasons Indy should want this new stadium, but I've yet to hear why Indy needs this new stadium.

I'm feeling this way because, yes, I actually read the news part of this newspaper. (The section that keeps the sports pages dry.) And here's what I'm reading:

The city opened pools later and will close them earlier in the season because there's no money.

The city is going to cut dozens of police and firefighters out of the payroll by attrition, with the threat of layoffs in the future.

There are dwindling resources to fund pensions for those same police and firefighters.

Meanwhile, we've just come through a recent 32-day stretch in which four young people have been shot to death in Indy.

More police, or more club seats?

Understand, I'm fully in favor of the Convention Center expansion. There is more-than-abundant evidence that it will enrich the city.

With a new stadium, though, history tells us the economic benefits are insignificant -- even with a one-time pop from a Super Bowl. Most of the benefits that accrue from a new stadium and the continued existence of an NFL franchise are purely intangible.

And I would be fine with those intangible benefits.

Except I've never heard the issue reduced to a build-it-or-we-will-leave proposition.

In fact, the tables were turned; instead of Irsay holding the city for ransom, the city told Irsay, "We're going to build it, and you're coming along." The whole thing has been turned upside down. The city reached agreements with the NCAA and the Colts (sort of) before financing was approved.

Isn't that like paying a landscaper to work on a new house before you've agreed on a purchasing price?

It's a question of civic priorities. We can find the will to raise taxes for a Convention Center/stadium project, but we can't find the money to fund essential city services.

So where have you been all this time? Why the rhetoric now? What purpose is there when the deed is essentially done?

Fair questions.

And I have no good answers.

This should have been written far earlier. The harder questions should have been asked earlier, if only to elicit more persuasive answers. But I fell in line. I let my personal desire to keep the Colts -- for obvious reasons -- cloud my judgment on the issue. And in a city whose landscape has changed for the better with major civic projects, I didn't have the fortitude to challenge a time-tested formula.

So, I'm guilty as charged.

That said, I don't know if a widespread chorus of dissent would have made any difference. In this city, if the political and business interests want it done, it gets done.

So a few years from now, the blimp will be overlooking the spanking new stadium, the "Monday Night Football" crew will be extolling our civic can-do attitude, and everyone will get the warm fuzzies.

What the blimp won't show is where the politicians have failed the people. People who live in places where the schools are in disrepair, where the infrastructure is crumbling, where violent crime is still a daily part of life, like brushing your teeth.

If nothing else, think about it.

I am thinking about it on this rainy afternoon, and it angers and repulses me that this column took so long to be written. It wouldn't have altered the course of events -- I'm not that egotistical -- but maybe it could have made the debate a little less one-sided.

Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star. Call him at (317) 444-6643 or e-mail bob.kravitz@indystar.com.

07-15-2005, 10:20 AM
Trust me on this, Kravitz is SO wrong he has no clue. :(

07-15-2005, 11:16 PM
Being a Colts season ticket holder that lives two hours north of Indy, in a town with very little crime, good schools, and few problems with paying policemen and firefighters, I may be unaware of the problems being left behind in building a new stadium. I also don't believe my county is in the area that taxes are being raised. I guess I'm only going to see the positive aspect of the new stadium and I won't be affected by any of the negatives (except for higher ticket prices, but it's my choice to keep buying them). So in a way I do feel kind of selfish wanting this new stadium so badly.

07-16-2005, 07:38 AM
For the first time I'll say Kravitz is just plain ignorant on this issue.

07-16-2005, 03:55 PM
Well it kinda made me think.The part about we are having to lay off police and firefighters .I'm not saying that we shouldn't build a new stadium b/c believe me I think that our stadium is out of date but we probably could have put less money into it.

Los Angeles
07-17-2005, 02:47 PM
For the first time I'll say Kravitz is just plain ignorant on this issue.
First time? Really??? :confused:

07-17-2005, 10:37 PM
I am a huge Colts fan, I don't miss a game, I am glad they are building the Colts a new stadium. The trouble isn't really with the Colts per se. It is more just the level of attention that the new stadium revealed. City services are in dissaray, we have politicians fighting each other on the most petty trivial pieces of lesgislation, but some how we are quickly able to come up with an almost Billion dollar, several county wide finance package to cover the expense. My biggest frustration is that if we can do that to pay for the Colts stadium, there should be no problem taking care of vital, city services. Like repairing a Judicial System, expanding not laying off police and fire service, and upgrading Public Bus serivce so that it is not more than doubled in operation money than several smaller cities in other areas.

The Mayor in my opinon is an absolute moron. His consolidation plan makes no sense whatsoever, and equally frustrating is the liberal slanted media which takes everything he says an regurgetates it back to the public. Almost every township in Marion County with the exception of Center is fiscally responsible and has a balanced budget. In comes the city with which is grossly over budgeted and has robbed pension plans of city Fireman and Police officers to pay for things. The Mayors plans to not cut police officers is to expand his tax base and pay for a "combined" police force. Do you think he cares one iota about the townships police coverage? Absolutely not. His whole plan is to rob the township tax base to pay off his own bills and leave the coverages right where they are.

The other thing that bothers me is this 9 million dollar savings to the County by merging MCSD and IPD. Sure you will only need to have one SWAT commander instead of two, and there maybe only one senior officer in charge of a combined HR department, but that alone will not save you millions of dollars. The cost of changing uniforms and equipment will be in the millions, the cost of 3 police commissioners to oversee the elected Sheriff, is not only a slap in the voters face, but an added expense.

The Mayor must think we are a bunch of dullards. His concession to the townships is that the elected Sheriff, in his plan will run the law enforcement county wide, however, he wants to add 3 appointed commisioners (in which he appoints 2 and the CC Council appoints 1) to supervise the Sheriff? Mine as well throw in the puppet strings to go with the Sheriff's election.

Sorry to hijack this thread, but our city leaders and citizens need to wake up, there is a reason this plan did not pass state legislation.

07-20-2005, 01:01 AM
Maybe Bob can join John Kerry in the flip-flopper club.

07-28-2005, 12:15 PM
I never have liked Kravitz much.

Frank Slade
07-29-2005, 05:52 PM
:kravitz: :laugh:

08-04-2005, 03:25 AM
can we trade Kravitz??? please! even in his plights to be the hero of the masses he's still annoying.

08-04-2005, 09:59 AM
I'd trade Kravitz to Atlanta to get Sekou Smith back right now.