Funding Act of 2019 to help with the stadium, never tied to any individual, group or location

Despite extensive lobbying from Indy Eleven founder Ersal Ozdemir, a state lawmaker who co-authored the 2019 bill that created a pathway to help finance a downtown sports stadium said the law is not tied to any specific group, project or location.

“We never said for whom,” said Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Mishawaka.

That means Indianapolis and the Marion County Capital Improvement Board are free to work with any partner that can pay 20% of the stadium costs, said Mishler, who currently serves on the State Budget Committee.

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“All the state did then is say that the CIB and their PSDA could collect up to $9.5 million a year (the state contribution) to help pay for the bonds,” Mishler said, adding that there is no guarantee that the city will bring in a team. “Any other financial incentives or risks would lie with the CIB.”

Initially, Senate Bill 7 provided funding to upgrade Gainbridge Fieldhouse as an incentive to keep the Indiana Pacers in town long-term. The wording for a football-specific stadium was added later. Once the legislation was passed, Governor Eric Holcomb signed the legislation into law, allowing for the creation of a special taxing district, called a Professional Sports Development Area, in Marion County to collect state and income taxes, as well as local sales taxes collected within a radius of one and a half kilometers from a multifunctional building. football specific stadium. This money can be used to cover construction costs.

Discussions in 2019 included talks about a 20,000-seat stadium and pursuing an MLS team, Mishler said, adding that the general belief was that a professional soccer team could support and help a stadium of that size generate a positive cash flow. The CIB would lease the stadium to the team’s ownership.

“It wasn’t a foregone conclusion who that would be,” he said. ‘It just said that the CIB would build it and that they would have an agreement with someone. If they’re talking to someone they can’t, and they feel like they can’t do it, then it’s the CIB’s option not to do that. and they don’t literally have to build a stadium.”

Last month, Keystone Group, the development company founded by Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir, accused Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration of walking away from Eleven Park and passing the legislation to another group working to attract a Major League Soccer franchise. Keystone Group, which has also tried to land an MLS team, planned to build a mixed-use project around a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium at Eleven Park along White River, south of downtown.

Taxes on that portion of the development would have been levied by another PSDA that the City Council and Metropolitan Development Commission approved for Eleven Park last year. But the plan still needs state approval.

The Hogsett administration said it would not submit the Keystone plan to the State Budget Committee for review because it believed the project was too financially risky for taxpayers.

The company denies that claim.

Mishler said he met with CIB officials during the Indiana General Assembly session, sometime between January and March, and learned they no longer felt comfortable moving forward with Indy Eleven. “They came back and said another group had approached them about pursuing an MLS team, and of course as it should be, see what that group has to offer,” he said.

Now the Hogsett administration has identified an alternate site — 355 E. Pearl St. near the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport — for a stadium and a PSDA around that site.

The Indianapolis City County Council voted Monday to approve the map for the new PSDA during its meeting Monday at 7 p.m. The proposal will go to the Metropolitan Development Commission for final approval at the end of this month.

The State Budget Committee, of which Mishler is a member, will then look at the numbers.

Mischler said his main goal is to protect the state and city’s investments.

“If something goes wrong and the CIB takes this too far,” he said, “the state is the first group to come back and ask for help.”

Contact IndyStar investigative reporter Alexandria Burris at [email protected]. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, at @allyburris.

This article originally appeared on the Indianapolis Star: Lawmaker: Football stadium financing law is not tied to any specific group or site