INDIANAPOLIS - City officials approved a deal Monday that will keep the Pacers in Indianapolis for up to 13 more seasons.
Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board voted 8 to 0 to lock the Indiana Pacers into Bankers Life Fieldhouse for 10 years, with three one-year renewal options. In exchange, the city will provide $160 million to cover operating costs and facility upgrades to the nearly 20-year-old building.
The CIB is a quasi-governmental agency that helps run Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home to the Pacers and WNBA's Indiana Fever; Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Colts; and the city's convention center.
Terms of a new Pacers deal call on the board to pay $3.7 million annually for fieldhouse operating expenses and another $7.1 million, with a 3 percent annual escalator clause, in reimbursements for management of the arena. It also calls for $26.5 million in capital improvements and $7 million to replace scoreboards and other "major systems."
Officials with the Pacers said only $6 million has gone into building improvements since 1997. They said it’s time to upgrade because of the impact the amenity has had on the economy.
"The building brings in two million people to downtown, 500-plus events. This week, the NBA, the day before we had a Second Helpings fundraiser, the night before we had Cher. The list goes on and on," Pacers President Jim Morris said.
The CIB said the deal will not mean new taxes.
"We are taking cash reserves that we have set aside for bond refinancing that we have done in the last several years. That is between $20 and $30 million. The board directed that that money be set aside for future large capital expense such as what we are gonna see at Bankers Life Fieldhouse," Ann Lathrop with the CIB said.
"I understand some people question investments like this at a time when other budgets are strained. I want the people to know that funding for this agreement cannot be used for police and potholes. It is money generated from downtown visitors, ticket holders, solely to support downtown and convention facilities," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said.
City leaders get "right of first offer" if the heirs of Herb Simon's estate try to sell the team.
Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas