Deflated Dome Leaves Taxpayers $69 Million Tab

Mountain Of Debt Remains From RCA Dome

Indianapolis leaders on Wednesday did what a homeowner could never legally do -- demolish a building while the mortgage is still unpaid.

The original debt for the RCA Dome, which had its roof deflated Wednesday -- a precursor to demolition -- not only hasn't been paid off, it's 50 percent bigger than when the dome was built, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

In 1982, the city issued $47 million in bonds to build the Hoosier Dome. The stadium cost $80 million, but almost half of that cost was covered by donations from the Lilly Foundation and Krannert Trust.

Taxpayers might have thought they were paying off the debt through the Marion County food and beverage tax, but the Capital Improvement Board refinanced the debt three times.

The money that came from refinancing efforts was used to build new projects, such as Victory Field, and to make improvements to the dome.

In 1999, the CIB issued another $26 million in bonds to upgrade the dome, including the addition of club seats.

At that point, the debt climbed to $73 million. Since then, about $4 million has been paid off, leaving the taxpayers' tab for a building that soon will be demolished at $69 million.

Republican State Rep. Phil Hinkle said the numbers disgust him.

"The whole scheme of things just irritates the daylights out of me," Hinkle said. "Any politician who wonders why people are cynical about government -- voila. Look at the dome."

Former Mayor Bill Hudnut, whose administration built the dome, said he finds the numbers surprising.

The remaining debt from the RCA Dome has been rolled into bonds for the new stadium, so it might not be possible to tell when or if it is ever retired.

Capital Improvement Board officials provided the numbers for this story, but were not available to be interviewed.