Lucas Oil, Conseco Draining Millions From City, Officials Say

CIB: New Stadium Could Soon Have $45M Deficit

The Capital Improvement Board painted a gloomy financial picture at a meeting Tuesday afternoon where members discussed ways to grapple with a substantial Lucas Oil Stadium budget deficit.

Officials said Lucas Oil Stadium is currently operating at about $20 million in the red, and the board said its overall deficit is about $25 million and projected to grow to $45 million in upcoming years, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

"The numbers were projections. Once you open a building like that and put in all the different things we're doing, marketing and other challenges in light of the economy, the one-time challenges and some of those other things are definitely related to the economy," said CIB President Bob Grand.

The construction of the building was funded by taxpayers in Marion and surrounding counties with a food and beverage tax. Lawmakers are pushing to review how the money was spent.

"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."

CIB attributed about $15 million of that figure to its operation of Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers and CIB have a 10-year-old operating agreement.

"In no way, shape or form are they threatening to leave, but they have made it clear that the current business model isn't viable," CIB Vice President Pat Early said. "And the Simon family, as wealthy as everybody thinks they are, they're not going to be able to go forward with a model like the one right now."

The board said it plans to cut operating budgets by 8 percent immediately and implement a hiring and salary freeze and travel ban to deal with its economic troubles.

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, lawmakers said.