It was fascinating to attend today's press conference with the Stadium Authority and the NK Hurst Company. The newspapers will tell the story of how a deal has been reached at long last. The pictures on TV will show the participants from both sides looking happy. The public will assume this was a deal of mutual benefit.
Rick Hurst on the TV camera firing line.
The Hursts are such good people. You can tell that all they want is to remain where they are to fulfill their personal commitment to the City of Indianapolis and to their employees. They gave away their land without even a commitment from the Stadium Authority on how much they would be paid for the loss. From the Indy Star:
Though both sides haven't agreed on how much the Hurst company will be paid for the lost land, the stadium authority will immediately pay the family $400,000, and put $1.65 million in an escrow account until a final pricetag is determined.
The agreement is part of a land swap in which the Hursts give up 2.7 acres of their original property, but get one acre the stadium owns immediately to the west of the Hurst property. Now, that one acre is home to a giant pile of dirt from construction of the new Lucas Oil Stadium, which started in September and will end in the fall of 2008. Instead of an L-shape, the Hurst property will now be shaped like a square.
That land is worth waaaaaay more that that. I would have gone to the wall over this. God bless the Hursts, for they are just trying to get back to what they do- selling beans and soups.
The thing that most struck me most is the thing that will not be reported, in all likelihood. It was fascinating listening to Mr. Mutz and Mr. Frick and their choice of words. They spoke as though the Hurst land was already theirs, and that the Stadium Authority was making a concession to the Hursts!
This is exactly backwards. The Hursts made all of the concessions, giving up their land. The spin was so thick I was getting dizzy.
The Stadium Authority made no concession whatsoever. What are they giving up? If the project costs more due to needing to build a parking garage, it won't cost the members of the Authority a penny. It will cost the taxpayers. Of course, it this were a private project as it should have been from the get-go, the taxpayers wouldn't be paying a penny, either.
In a sick way, the Colts may even make more money on a garage. They already get a portion of the proceeds from the lot. They will probably get a portion from the garage, too. What about if the garage is used for non-football events? Man, it's good to be Jim Irsay!
Speaking of whom... The cost for a new garage was stated to be about $15 million. I figure that Mr. Irsay can peel off a cool $15 for that garage and still have $106 million left from that naming rights deal. It would go a long way towards showing that he can be something of the kind of corporate citizens the Hursts are, and have been all along.
This whole deal just shows that there is often little reward for being good people, and ample reward for being snakes.
Update: Spin-O-Rama continues. Even the Star reporter used words that indicated that somehow the Stadium Authority is making concession, in the updated article for Saturday morning:
Under an agreement it reached with Hurst, the stadium authority, which had faced public pressure to end its land dispute with the family business, will lose space for up to 500 surface parking spots for fans. As a result, it may have to spend $15 million on a parking garage. (Emphasis mine.)
Let's be crystal clear here- The Stadium Authority isn't losing anything. It gained 2.7 acres from the Hursts!!! Certainly, the Stadium Authority had to alter its plans, but it certainly did not lose anything. It gained 2.7 acres it didn't have, and would not have ever gotten if not for the threat of an eminent domain taking.
I'd call this a very successful press conference Mr. Mutz, Mr. Frick, and the State.