Monday, December 20, 2004

Wearing Colts Blue

So, Mr. Irsay got the City of Indianapolis to shell out some money to build him a new palace, so that he can make some more money, thus preventing (for the next 5-10 years) Colts from taking the moving van night express down the interstate, just as the Baltimore Colts did back in the early 80s.

I can't say I blame him for having asked. So many cities give the moon. City officials always cite jobs, but are also always certain to insist that the prestige of the city would dive if a major sports team left.

I'm a big sports fan, but I'm also a big fan of classic and exotic automobiles. I drive a 1997 Saturn, which is neither of these things, but it sure gets me from-A-to-B. It's a reliable car, and gets very good fuel economy.

Just the same, I'm thinking that I'd like to have a Rolls-Royce... and a Ferrari... and a Maserati. These would look really good in my driveway, and I would look and feel much better about driving them than I do about my Saturn.

I'm thinking that I'd like everyone on my block to pay for these luxury automobiles. Heck- it will improve the prestige of my neighborhood if out-of-towners were to drive down my street and see the Rolls. My neighbors will enjoy the benefit of this enhanced prestige, and it will only cost them each a little bit. They'll hardly notice how much it is.

I'm even thinking that about 10 to 12 times a year, I will allow my neighbors to take a spin with me in the Rolls or the Maserati. They can pay me admission to ride in my car, getting the direct benefit of having purchased the cars for me. Sometimes they can even ride shotgun. Of course, you don't always get to sit on the 50-yard line, so sometimes, my neighbors will have to ride in the trunk. Heck, though- the tickets are almost half price!

Maybe they can't afford the price of tickets for the whole family to ride. Well, they can stand on the sidewalk and watch as I drive by with those who can afford the price of admission. Still- they're getting the enormous benefit of having created a sense of civic pride and prestige for our neighborhood, thanks to my cars. Of course, I'll only let them stand on the sidewalk if I've sold out the admissions to all of the seats, including the trunk. I'm not kind of idiot who is going to let people watch for free from the sidewalk when I have empty seats!

So, hats off to Jim Irsay. He sold his bill of goods lock, stock, and barrel. I'm impressed with his moxie.

I'm less impressed with Mayor Peterson. He gave away the store and gets very little in return. He'll claim it was great leadership to keep the Colts here. Great leadership would have included a stadium that was fully privately funded.

This is not impossible. Look at the Brickyards or Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for good examples of privately built arenas that were built with private funds and are thriving.

While the Mayor or Mr. Peterson may not have been able to locate a single source of funding, think of the extraordinary opportunity to build civic pride that was lost. They could have built a consortium of local business who would have invested in the project, thus taking a real stake in the success of the project. They could have sold shares of stock to Colts fans and raised a huge sum, rather like the Cleveland Indians did a few years back.

Nope. Easier to tax or to create a government monopoly casino to pay for it.

Maybe it's time to ask for that Rolls Royce.

No comments: