Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Are Indiana taxpayers going to pay to prep the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for sale?

   Taxpayers should not pay for improvements to a sports facility to increase its "curb appeal" for buyers.

   I am opposed to governmental subsidies for sports. I am a fan of several sports. I love Major League Baseball(r) (Chicago Cubs) and college basketball. Given recent reports of brain trauma to players, I have to reconsider my interest in football at the professional and college levels. As a native-born Hoosier, a part of my DNA predisposes me to follow hoops. At least I follow college hoops. The NBA(r) tends to bore me, unless the Pacers are viable in the playoffs.

   That last part may make me a hypocrite, but I would argue it does not. If I am stuck, as a taxpayer, with payment for the team, I should be able to at least enjoy the show.

   The Indianapolis Motor Speedway---"IMS"---was a mythical place to me when I was a kid in rural Howard County. Each May the evening news covered the day's practices and reported the latest record speeds. In preparation for the race, we cut up the pictures of the drivers, published in the Indianapolis daily paper, and drew for a pool. We listened to The Race on the radio---first as Sid Collins called it, later as Paul Page was The Voice. As the cars made the parade and pace laps I remember how they would go to "Howdy Bell" in whatever turn to describe one portion of the field as it drove by. There was the horrible wreck in 1964 that claimed the lives of Eddie Sachs (one of my favorites) and Dave MacDonald (who had a lot of experience as a test-driver and in races). In 1967 and 1968 the turbines came very close to wins. Always an Andretti seemed, after domination of a race to be reported as "slowing down."

   One thing IMS was? A moneymaker. Tony Hulman resurrected it after World War II. Only one race was run there each year. Then Tony George, Hulman's grandson, stepped into his grandfather's shoes. I have not found anything, on-line, about Tony George's formal education. Tony Hulman graduated from Yae. I would have thought his grandson would at least have gone to Indiana State University---right there near the family home in Terre Haute. In the late 1980s, Tony George was given the reins to the Hulman family businesses, including IMS. His stewardship had a couple of successes---most notably NASCAR. However, he engaged in a contest of egos with Roger Penske, started the ill-fated IRL, and wooed Formula One here. IMS lost money. One estimate is that IMS lost half-a-billion dollars.

   Tony George was voted out by family members who, I understand, have no interest in running the track. They want money. That is not a bad thing. They seek money from the Indiana General Assembly, however, and that rankles me. We should not subsidize sports.  It is bad enough to do so for simple operations, but I have heard that these improvements are to improve the profile of IMS for sale.

   Taxpayers already have been forced to pay for billionaires' games. Now we are expected to pay to primp a facility so that the owners can make more money when they unload it.

   Write your State Rep or State Senator and say "no" to this giveaway. Your doing so probably won't do any good, but at least you will register an opinion.  

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Comment by Kurt Lorey on March 11, 2013 at 7:54am

I'm pretty sure that Tony George went to Indiana State. Did he matriculate? I don't know, but I imagine he did from the Business School.

As to why the George sisters might want to get out? Well, if you ask next time I see you I will regale you with my suppositions along those lines.

As far as the tax monies for the IMS, it's too late, isn't it? Too bad the taxpayers can't entertain legislators as well as pro sports owners, eh?


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