Senate Approves Fieldhouse Renovations, Possible Soccer Stadium
(INDIANAPOLIS) - A bill to keep the Pacers in Indy has passed the Senate and heads for the House.
The bill would earmark a slice of the taxes collected at four new hotels being built downtown to expand the convention center and make improvements to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And it says the state will use the same mechanism to build a soccer stadium, if Indy lands a Major League Soccer franchise.
The Indy Eleven soccer team has been lobbying for a "sports development area" to build a new stadium as the anchor of a retail and residential development. But the Eleven plays in the United Soccer League. It lost out to Cincinnati and Nashville when it pursued an MLS expansion team in 2017.
The fieldhouse improvements serve as a promise to the Indiana Pacers to upgrade the facility if the team finalizes a 25-year extension of its lease.
While the NBA and MLS have the star value, VisitIndy, the city's convention and visitors bureau, says a critical piece of the bill is the giant new ballroom it'll pay for at the convention center, with skywalks to two new Hilton hotels. VisitIndy says the combination will let Indianapolis bid for conventions it otherwise wouldn't have room for.
Indianapolis Republican Mike Young cast the only no vote. The bill allows the extension of taxes on game tickets and rental cars first enacted to help Lucas Oil Stadium get on its feet. Young says those taxes were supposed to be temporary, for a single purpose.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Photo: WIBC)