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Indiana Lawmakers Approve Pacers Funding

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The Pacers will remain in Indiana after the state senate Tuesday voted 44-4 to approve legislation that would keep the NBA team in the state's capital of Indianapolis for decades. Along with keeping the Pacers, legislators also tentatively removed at least one hurdle in the way for a new soccer stadium for the Indy Eleven.

The bill will now head to the governor’s desk for a signature.

According to the Indy Star, Senate Bill 7 creates funding for the previously announced 25-year deal between the Indiana Pacers and Marion County Capital Improvement Board, which commits roughly $800 million in public spending to keep the team in town. 

Revenue for the funding will come from a variety of taxes from sales, innkeepers, admissions and auto rental taxes collected mostly from within tax districts located near the fieldhouse. None of those taxes would go up, but without these districts, that money would otherwise flow to the state, city, townships, schools and city-county library. 

Senator Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) was the only “no” vote to speak against the bill. He fears taxpayers are saddled with too much of the burden of funding the Pacers. Young said he believes the legislature should allow certain taxes included in the bill to decrease, as they would without this legislation, including on sporting tickets and certain car rentals. 

As part of the legislation, Bankers Life Fieldhouse will see $270 million in improvements over the next 25 years. The city will contribute $25 million for public infrastructure, while the Pacers will spend $65 million. In terms of operating expenses, the city will offer $12.5 million per year in the first six years, $13 million annually for the following six years, then rise to $16 million a year for the remainder of the deal. 

The bill also included stipulations around accommodations for Indianapolis' Indy Eleven soccer team. Lawmakers removed a stipulation that the Indy Eleven must sign a Major League Soccer franchise by 2022 before beginning construction of a stadium. Under the existing deal, the current version of the team could play in the stadium.

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