Bitter pill 

Mayor hands over control of stadium project to state

Mayor hands over control of stadium project to state

In a surprise move Friday afternoon, Mayor Bart Peterson ended the political tug-of-war with Gov. Mitch Daniels over the proposed new Colts stadium by acceding to the governor’s desire for the state to take control of the project.
Plans for the new stadium could change under state control.

“I still don’t agree with the proposal today,” Peterson said. “But I still have to step back and remember what this project is all about: keeping the Colts in Indianapolis for the next 30 years, creating 4,200 permanent jobs, NCAA Final Fours for decades to come, pumping $2.4 billion into the economy over just the next 10 years. It’s about making Indianapolis one of the top convention destinations in America.”

The governor’s proposal takes the stadium-building project out of the hands of the city’s Capital Improvement Board and into state control. The CIB would continue to maintain and administer the new dome after it’s completed. Peterson said that under the terms of this agreement, there would be no changes in the deal with the Colts, and that construction timelines and budgets would not change.

“My main concern was getting this thing done on time and on budget. I know the Capital Improvement Board can do that. The governor has made it clear that if the state takes it over it will get done on time and on budget, and that needs to be our No. 1 goal. It’s going to be their responsibility.”

Though the proposal still has a number of political hurdles to clear this week, Peterson said he expects it to go smoothly. The only real challenge he expects is the vote in the City-County Council.

“I can’t imagine Republicans voting against this because they got everything they wanted,” Peterson said. “I’m going to ask the Democrats in the Legislature and the City-County Council to support it. I feel like if this gets built and it gets done, it’s a great thing for Indianapolis no matter who designs and builds it. We’re essentially conceding on the major issues here, so I can’t see this being delayed much further.”

Contracts will be handled by a selection committee with two members appointed by the mayor, two by the governor and one by both. Funding would be handled according to the governor’s terms, which include a regional food and beverage tax.

“Representatives of the Governor’s Office welcomed the move as a substantial step forward for the process. There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Jane Jankowski, a spokesperson for Daniels. “The governor is still working very hard to bring together people who have very different views on this project. He was appreciative of the mayor recognizing that the state’s full faith and credit was necessary to keep moving this project along. He talked about the fact there are many people who would not vote for the project without a state authority.”

Peterson made no secret of his unhappiness with the situation, but asked supporters to accept the political realities.

“The governor has demanded this, he controls the Legislature and I’m acceding to his demands for this,” Peterson said. “This is a bitter pill for me to swallow, as well as for many members of the city and of the City-County Council. But I ask them to likewise bury their feelings so the city can get this project done.”

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