Lucas Oil Stadium Deep In Debt

Lawmakers Want To Know Dollar Details

Financial and political experts said Monday that Lucas Oil Stadium is running a significant operating deficit in its first year.

The stadium is believed to be between $20 million and $35 million in the red, but political leaders said they want to see the actual numbers before taking any action, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

The construction of the building was funded by taxpayers in Marion and surrounding counties with a food and beverage tax.

"I'm hoping it's a first-year cost and … not an ongoing type of cost," said Republican Sen. Luke Kenley, of Noblesville. "We'll just have to look at the facts to see where we think the problems may lay and where the solutions may lay."

Political analysts said the economic downturn was tough to factor in for first-year stadium revenues. Some believe the shortfall could be much more than predicted and that the solution must be stadium-based, coming from the city, state and the Colts instead of taxpayers.

"In this economy and the property tax rebellion we had back in 2007, the citizens of Indianapolis and Marion County have been taxed enough, taxed to death, said 6News political analyst Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. '"Any general, broad-based tax is going to be out of the question."

Kenley said lawmakers expected some shortfall, but not an estimated $20 million. He and others want to see the real numbers before reacting.

"Let's see what the costs are, and if there are problems, we will try to work with the city of Indianapolis and Marion County toward a solution," Kenley said.

The Legislature did not support a proposal to use gambling revenue to help fund the stadium, but that idea could be revisited to deal with operating costs.

The Capital Improvement Board will meet Tuesday to discuss the deficit. The Colts' cut of stadium revenue is one item that could be discussed, but it's a sensitive issue because it was part of the deal to keep the team in Indianapolis for years to come.