Capital Improvement Board: Sports, convention center upkeep will produce deficit in 2014

Talks to keep Pacers in town 'going well'

INDIANAPOLIS - The agency that runs the city's sports and convention facilities is looking at a massive stain of red ink next year, but its leaders said they have a plan to handle the new spending.

Those numbers also impact the talks to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis over the long term.

On Wednesday, the Capital Improvement Board approved a 2014 budget that's $33 million in the red, after only a small deficit last year.

The deficit is driven by the need to maintain Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the flooring and carpeting need replaced, and the older section of the Convention Center, which needs, among other things, paint, lighting controls, air handling units and several roof sections.

This budget also reflects the need for expanded maintenance at Lucas Oil Stadium where exterior steel structures will get a paint job.

But Board President Ann Lathrop said this is not a crisis. The board will take money from its operating surplus from the past and from a fund it created to pay for replacement and upkeep work.

"The board redirected the savings from the bond refinancings, over $20 million, into that account,” Lathrop said. “So, again, we knew this was coming. We knew we were gonna have some big dollars for some big facility issues. And we went ahead and did that."

The new budget also includes $11 million for Fieldhouse improvements, which the public generally knows as the Pacers subsidy, but which the board considers normal upkeep responsibilities of a landlord.

Lathrop said negotiations with the team on a long-term agreement are going well, and she doesn't believe putting in that specific $11 million figure undermines the board's negotiating position.

“I feel very confident that between now and the end of the calendar year, we will have an agreement," Lathrop said.

Lathrop was asked about the wisdom of spending so much money on these buildings when the city has so many other needs. 

She said keeping these facilities up to snuff helps bring in outsiders, who spend money that stays here, and helps pay for those needs. 

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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