Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bob Strikes Again

And the Lom Henn Empire strikes back!

Our resident douchebag has written another one of his classic articles that drive Slut and I batty. I have nothing against the topic of the IHSAA and the cost to hold the state football finals at Lucas Oil Stadium. It is actually a worthwhile topic. However, in grand ol' Bob style, he half-asses the facts of the story and only gives you a partial view of the story, i.e. his side.

We really do not pick on Bob Kravitz just to spite him. Its just that his articles are crap and we feel it is our duty to point out they are crap and why.

State finals have to stay at stadium

So I'm reading how Lucas Oil Stadium might be too expensive for future Indiana High School Athletic Association football championships, and this nagging question keeps popping into my head:

Who paid for our little Taj Mahal?

Wasn't it the taxpayers, for the most part?

Well, technically the State of Indiana and the Colts PAID for it. The 1% restaurant tax for Marion County and the doughnut counties (except Morgan County) are paying the state back for the bonds they sold.

Weren't a lot of the donors the mothers and fathers of the kids who either hope to play at Lucas Oil Stadium or support their school's teams once a year if they are fortunate enough to reach the state finals?

Only for those teams from Marion and surrounding counties, which were five of then ten teams in the finals (Sheridan, Heritage Christian, Ritter, Cathedral, Center Grove and Carmel).

This is like buying a beautiful new house on Geist and being told we can only use it once every three months. As long as we pay for the privilege, that is. What a deal, right?

No, it is like building a state-of-the-art stadium that charges a fee to use its services.

This is a community project, except the community can't afford to use it.

No, no, no, no, no. This is a commercial business venture. Lucas Oil Stadium is not a not-for-profit entity. They have a right to charge ANYONE a fee that wants to use the stadium.

The IHSAA said it paid $261,000 for a high school football weekend. That's more than $100,000 more than the cost to use the RCA Dome. This isn't about the IHSAA trying to make money. It uses whatever profit it makes on football to help support its non-revenue sports championships. Every additional dollar it spends on football is one fewer available for girls soccer.

This is the first valid paragraph that Kravitz has made in the article, mostly. The IHSAA paid a lot more for the new stadium than for the old RCA Dome and that they use the profit from football (and basketball) to help support the other boys and girls sports. I would argue that the IHSAA isn't about trying to make money and we'll discuss that a little later.

Unless the Capital Improvement Board and the Indianapolis Colts want a major public relations catastrophe, they will find a way to cut the prohibitive cost they charge to use the stadium for the IHSAA finals weekend and ensure all future IHSAA finals are at The Luke and no place else.

The Capital Improvement Board is charging 12 percent of the gate receipts for rent (and the IHSAA increased prices from $10 to $15 a ticket) and an additional fee for extra security.

Question, Bob. What did the CIB charge the IHSAA in previous years?

Did you think to ask or provide that information? Or whether they had to pay for extra security in previous years?

Somebody needs to step up here, and yes, Jim Irsay, I'm looking long and hard at you to do the right thing, as usual. Understand, half the money goes to the board and the other half goes to the Colts, who keep non-football-related revenue up to $3.5 million a year. The board needs to cut the IHSAA a break. Or the Colts have to cut a check. Or both. Something.

If the board cuts a break to the IHSAA for football, how can they say no to lower the costs for the State Marching Band Finals or other high school events that could be held there? You might be able to get something from the Colts since it is football-related.

Because if future IHSAA state finals are held anywhere other than The Luke, it will be a regrettable shame and the tone of this column, which would be an annual offering, would become more mean-spirited than ever before.

I know you've been told this before, Bob, but it is called Lucas Oil Stadium, not "The Luke", you 'tard! Mr. Lucas did not pay $121 million for you to call it The Luke.

It was interesting to listen to Bob Grand, the head of the Capital Improvement Board, recently tell a TV reporter how much he enjoyed watching the faces of the kids as they ran onto the stadium field and created tunnels through which their football-playing mates could run.

Very moving.

Until the bill comes due.

Bob has to help pay the bills of the CIB. As far as he sees it, everyone pays. If you can show me how the CIB reduced the fees for another group/event and not for the IHSAA, then you have something. Otherwise, I see it as fair treatment for everyone, albeit a costly treatment.

Think the kids will get all excited next year when they're doing that at Bloomington's Memorial Stadium? Or up at Purdue? What kind of crowds you think you'll see if it's typical late November weather in Central Indiana? Think we'll break records like the one that was just broken at The Luke, when 56,050 attended the games?

Sadly, I have to agree with Bob on this one. Owww, I think my head is going to explode.

Moving the finals to an outdoor stadium would take a toll on the attendance and even though IU, Purdue and Ball State are all within roughly an hour of Indy, that would affect how many people might go to the games.

For kids and for fans who might not otherwise get to this stadium, playing at The Luke is a special thing. It's where the Colts play. It's the center of the football universe. It's like going to Conseco Fieldhouse for the state high school basketball championship. It's Mecca, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So is Hinkle Fieldhouse and I think many would call Hinkle the "Mecca" of Hoosier basketball-dom.

And we're going to deny these young people because the cost can't be negotiated down to a more manageable level?

Mike Fox, the Lucas Oil Stadium director, told The Star the IHSAA was charged the same amount any nonprofit is charged for using the stadium.

Fine. Charge that fee to the religious conventions that come in or any other nonprofit. This, though, is different. This is local. These are our kids.

This is not local, this is statewide. Only the tax is mainly local. Why is it that people did not have a problem when the fee was lower? I'm assuming that the IHSAA was charged the same as other non-profits at the RCA dome, correct?

And never forget, we paid for the vast majority of that stadium, which comes with a lease that is extraordinarily friendly to the Colts. And we're paying for part of its upkeep. Don't our kids get a break when it comes to getting a chance to play on the floor of Indy's prized pleasure palace?

Yes, the lease is friendly to the Colts, but you can thank Bart Peterson and friends for negotiating that "friendly" lease. They also paid a decent chunk of the construction costs ($100 million) for the stadium.

I'm not saying they're required to open the place to my next Christmas party, but this is grass-roots high school sports, our kids, and, again, we paid for the darned thing. If we can't give our kids a break on the price, if we can't get past our budgets and our it's-just-business posturing, what are we saying about ourselves and our priorities?

It says that Lucas Oil Stadium and the CIB are in the business to make money and they are charging what they would charge anyone else.

It doesn't help that the CIB needs to tap into a contingency fund in order to help cover the operating costs.

Somehow, I can't imagine a vote on a stadium would have passed if we were told, "Yeah, it'll be nice, but it will be too expensive for the high school state football tournament."

If it had been put up to a voted, it very likely may not have passed because of the overall cost. Football fan-wise, most people would have voted for it because of the Colts and would not have cared about high school football.

Of course, in this part of the world, we don't get to vote on these kinds of things.

Movers and shakers simply make things happen and then stick the rest of us with the bill.

Welcome to real life, Bob-o! Of course, without these "movers and shakers" we may not of gotten the Hoosier Dome back '84.

The city gives conventions all kinds of breaks to lure them, and while the sum isn't extraordinary, the IHSAA finals produce money for the city, roughly $36 million worth, according to one study.

The city is not Lucas Oil Stadium or the CIB!

Somebody needs to step up and do the right thing.

The high school state football finals belong at The Luke.

Now and forever.

Yes, I would agree that the high school state football finals need to stay at LUCAS OIL STADIUM.

Now, Bob, why don't we go over some of the topics you failed to address.

Yes, the IHSAA had to pay more this year than last year, according to you. I have not been able to get a second verification on that yet. Even so, let's do a little bit of math. I like math.

In 2007, the state football finals two-day attendance was 51,217. Tickets cost $10 a piece. And we will go with the assumption that everyone who attended the games had to pay for their tickets.

51,217 tickets x $10 per ticket = $512,170.

$512,170 less costs of $161,000 = $351,170 gross profit (assuming 2007 cost was $100K less than 2008)

In 2008, we had a record attendance of 56,050. Tickets prices increased to $15 each.

56,050 tickets x $15 per ticket = $840,750.

$840,750 less costs of $261,000 = $579,750 gross profit.

So even though the IHSAA had to pay an additional $100K this year, not including other costs, they took home over $228K more this year! I know that there are other costs the IHSAA has to pay and some of the tickets may have been given away or comped to schools/students.

It is also interesting that this is just coming out now. The IHSAA should have know for a while that the CIB would charge them the 12% rent fee on ticket sales and the other costs that they would incur, so the total amount should not have been a true shock. Why did the IHSAA not publicly ask for a lower fee or start drumming up public support to lower the cost earlier in the year?

I'm pretty sure that the IHSAA is not going to go anywhere else for the state football finals. If they try to move it to Memorial Stadium, Rose Ade Stadium or even the Butler Bowl, they would not have the attendance they do now and would lose a lot more revenue than the costs they would save. I am curious to know how much IU or Purdue would charge the IHSAA to host the finals?

I did not hear any griping about the ticket increase from $10 to $15 per day? I think that $15 is still quite reasonable to see two or three games at the new stadium. The concession prices may kill your wallet, but the ticket price is quite acceptable to me.

Once again Bob has presented us with a valid article topic, but does his usual half-assed job and presents only some of the facts to back up his point. I'll try and let our resident Jedi, Slut, return for the next Bob-o article.

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Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

Ah, you beat me to it again. Good article, Zinglebert.

The most troubling thing here is that Kravitz is incapable of thinking critically--he just likes to bitch. Just because the IHSAA says it is hurting for money doesn't mean it really is. Or, if it is really hurting, then it should answer the question as to how this could be when the organization presumably made more money this year, as you so aptly pointed out.

His job as a newspaper columnist, in part, is to question those in authority and in official capacities. So the IHSAA says it can't afford Lucas Oil Stadium? A good journalist/columnist would ask the organization directly, "why not? It seems you made more money this year." A good journalist/columnist would also ask the CIB or officials at Lucas Oil Stadium, "how much do you make in profit on the IHSAA state finals?"

But that's not Kravitz, especially when a story falls into his lap that is in line with his opinion. He wants to rip on the deal the Colts have with the stadium and the fact that taxpayer dollars went into it with no vote EVERY chance he gets. Kravitz doesn't give a shit about the IHSAA; this is just another chance for him to rant about those things. So damn reason, thought, and journalism--little Bobby just wants to bitch.

The sad thing is, there's no one else at the Star who will write opinion articles with any thought or research. So we're stuck with Kravitz--at least, the few of us who keep reading.

December 11, 2008 at 9:09 PM  

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