Businessman Files For Disaster Relief, Citing Pacers

Former Venue Owner Refunded Federal Taxes

A former downtown Indianapolis business owner successfully lobbied the IRS for disaster relief funds, citing the plight of the Indiana Pacers.

Four years ago, Ted Bulthaup was forced to close Hollywood Bar and Filmworks, a downtown restaurant and movie fixture, after financial difficulties, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Bulthaup had long blamed Conseco Filedhouse for eating up parking in the area and making it more difficult for patrons to find his venue.

After looking at the law governing victims of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, he said he decided he was a disaster victim too, and filed for relief.

"It's not specifically the Katrina Act, but it is an IRS code that allows for relief from disasters," he said. "I filed for it, based on the fact that the Capital Improvement Board and the Conseco Fieldhouse, in particular, were a disaster for downtown."

Bulthaup said he convinced the IRS to refund a portion of his federal taxes for the period he had competed against the fieldhouse, a figure that he will only say went well into five figures.

Paul Okeson of the CIB, which owns the arena, said it's an interesting case, but disagrees that businesses are being hurt.

"I can't speak to that officially, I only know what I know from the analysis that we've had done, which suggests the opposite is the case," he said.

John Livengood, who lobbies for restaurants and bars, said most downtown businesses haven't seen a negative impact from the arena.

"It's the first time I've ever heard about that law being used in that way," he said. "Obviously, I'm as interested in it as you folks in the media are to see if it is a possible precedent-setter."

Bulthaup said he talked with about 20 other downtown business owners who also claimed to be losing money at the time that he filed his appeal. But he said that to his knowledge, he's the only one who actually went through with it.

Bulthaup has since opened a business similar to Hollywood Bar and Filmworks in Chicago.