The Indianapolis Indians (Class AAA; International League) and the city’s Capital Improvement Board (CIB) have agreed to a new 20-year Victory Field lease that lowers the ballpark rent from $500,000 annually to zero.
Why zero? Ballpark bonds are paid off, so there’s no financial pressure on debt service. The ballpark cost $20 million, with $10 million coming from public financing; with 20 years of debt service from ballpark rent, that overhead is gone. The team will still pay for ballpark maintenance and daily operations, while the Capital Improvement Board will still be responsible for capital expenditures. (CIB receives $600,000 annually from Indians ticket taxes, and that revenue stream will continue.)
Meanwhile, the team plans improvements under the new lease: 30 suites will be renovated, while the scoreboard and sound system will be overhauled. The total price tag is $9 million; the team will pay $6 million. From the Indianapolis Star:
The Indians this year drew 662,536 fans and have drawn 11,844,562 since 1986. In 2014, the team was second in minor league attendance. By comparison, the Indiana Pacers drew 691,434 and the Indianapolis Colts 660,289 in 2014.
“They’ve done a great job at developing a fine family tradition there,” CIB Executive Director Barney Lenvengood said. “Kids come to the park and don’t even watch the game, just for the great environment.”
Goode said the no-rent deal is “consistent with what other pro-teams are getting” from the CIB, a municipal corporation that oversees the operations of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Pacers play, Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts play, and the Indiana Convention Center.
The Indians have annually been one of MiLB’s big success stories, and this new lease should keep that streak alive.