We are supposed to be overjoyed at the prospects of Indianapolis playing host to Super Bowl LII®. City leaders have boasted of the money the last Super Bowl® brought to Indianapolis. Those leaders overlook some of the financial incentives Indianapolis extended to the NFL®, such as the NFL® not having to pay certain taxes.
The City came up with a study that showed we "made" $152 million from acting as the host city of the last Super Bowl.® The report is from Rockport Analytics, LLC. PriceWaterhouseCoopers had projected, before last February’s gala, the City’s economy would benefit by almost that exact amount: $151.7 million. (The"almost" is $300,000. That is a lot of money to most of us, but the context here involves the NFL® and government officials, so the .3 million simply is a digit behind a decimal point.) Gary Welsh over at "Advance Indiana" did an excellent blog on Wednesday about the numbers.
I had a silly idea. Why does someone not do an independent audit? That would make sense. We could hire an independent accounting agency to examine all the books and various factors. If the company is "independent," it would have no axe to grind. More precisely, it would have no one with whom it seeks to curry favor.
First, who is the "we" in "we could hire"? Why, we "the people," of course. How do we the people carry out our will? Through our elected officials. In this instance, those officials would be Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council. They already hired an independent company to conduct the study, issued yesterday. Some people might question the numbers, but there always are nay sayers, I guess. It seems very peculiar that a study would come to a conclusion that is almost to the penny—well, 30 million pennies—of what was predicted to come into Indy’s economy.
Second, whom would "we" hire? There probably are a lot of large accounting firms conflicted out in a mess like this. Of course, what members of the legal profession call a "Chinese Wall" could be erected and those who conduct the independent audit could be separated from colleagues at the same company. While the former would be hard at work in one set of rooms, the latter would occupy the rest of the place. They only would interact at lunch breaks and quarterly partners’ or shareholders’ meetings.
Third, what if the "truth" the independent audit reveals is at variance from the "truth" as found by the City, the NFL®, and their auditors? That would be a real [insert the appropriate term as it used to be the name of an ethnic group or group of national origin and I want to avoid political incorrectness] Stand-off.
So, we only can stand by and watch as millions of tax dollars are spent toward luring the NFL® back here for another Super Bowl®. The Colts® might still be playing in Indianapolis by then. We can watch as Jim Irsay’s helicopter flies over us in our neighborhoods where fewer police patrol the streets that are receiving fewer repairs and less maintenance performed by fewer workers who went to schools that employ fewer teachers. The property taxes in those neighborhoods can be raised to accommodate the NFL®, but not schools, police, fire, and other items of infrastructure.
We might as well lie back, relax, and enjoy the Show. (That’s an allusion to a Sheryl Crow song, not an observation by a former college basketball coach.) The City might go to hell, but its leaders will be happy on TV.