Harrison Square is in trouble. The baseball field is moving right along, but there are growing doubts about the condos and the hotel and the shops. Boy, if we could just turn the corner and get that thing finished. Then the tourists would come and the money would flow and the downtown renaissance would begin. Well, maybe. Let's consider Indianapolis, where sports promoters have been more successful in getting projects off the ground:
The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board, which manages Lucas Oil Stadium and other sports venues, revealed Tuesday that its operating deficit could grow to $43 million by next year, far worse than projected and too large for it to solve alone.
Not alone? Who might be asked to help? Don't be shocked, but:
It also could ask city taxpayers for help, though no new taxes could be raised without the OK of the city or state.
A City-County Council member says that raising taxes in a recession would "likely" provoke a strong negative reaction and that some might say "enough is enough." Really, do you think? The recession, in fact, is offered as one reason for the CIB's problems. There are unanticipated loan and insurance obligations, and debts are being called in by banks short on cash. But some bad deals were made, too, and promoters engaged in more than a little wishful thinking about the benefits of having sports teams.
The excuse that "the recession could not have been foreseen" is not justified for the CIB, Harrison Square or anything else dreamed up by government "economic development" experts. There are always economic downturns, and business suffers when that happens. Those in the private sector know that and find ways to deal with it, but it always seems to catch governments by surprise. If government were just tending to its proper role, it could concentrate on poviding the basics during downturns instead of having to scramble to shore up things it shouldn't have been messing with in the first place.
Oh, this just in. The board's financial troubles are not expected to affect Indianapolis' hosting of the 2012 Super Bowl. Well, never mind then. It's all worth it.