Is keeping the Pacers in Indy for at least 10 years a good deal?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The debate is on. Is keeping the Pacers in Indianapolis for at least 10 more years, worth the $160 million the Capital Improvements Board will pay?

In a city that is struggling with crime, crumbling streets and schools that don’t always make the grade, should tens of millions go to the local NBA team? 24-Hour News 8 took that question to an expert in sports and the economy.

“It’s a great deal providing the city wants to keep the team in Indianapolis,” said Larry DeGaris, an Associate Professor of Sports Marketing at the University of Indianapolis.

He says $16 million a year to keep the Pacers in Indy for at least 10 more years is a bargain.

“There aren’t direct economic benefits. But the indirect economic benefits are substantial, ” says DeGaris. “Not only does it bring awareness to the city, in case of sports, for people who don’t live here, but it makes it a city a lot of people want to live in.”

Other cities are writing checks too. Charlotte spent $87.5 million on its home for the Panthers and now the team is asking for nearly $42 million more for the Bobcats. Sacramento is paying just over $255 million for a home for the Kings.

But an even better comparison to Indianapolis, says DeGaris, is Louisville.

“Indianapolis is a big time professional city. Louisville is a college town,” he says.

A college town that wants an NBA team badly. It kicked in $206 million to help pay for the KFC Yum center. It opened in 2010 with the Butler Bulldogs playing the first game against the University of Louisville.

DeGaris says if Indy doesn’t want the Pacers, Louisville would be glad to have the team.

“Residents and politicians and business people need to decide if this is something that they want to do,” says DeGaris.

He says if the decision is to have a professional basketball team for another decade, this deal is a good one.

“Creating a financial model that’s sustainable long term I think was crucial and I think they are there,” he says.

DeGaris says it’s important to keep in mind that the Simons have spent millions of their own money over the past decade keeping the team afloat. He also points out in the last collective bargaining agreement the players took less money and the few profitable NBA teams agreed to increase profit sharing.

He says cities that want teams have to put up money too. It’s just the way the system works. The CIB will vote on the deal Monday.

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