I b'lieve I've mentioned this before, but one reason to maintain a national interest in such a paltry backwater carnival as Indianapolis is that the crooks running the show, and the Press which provides them with face-first lapdances, ain't nearly as sophisticated a gang of liars as the national boys, and the seams are that much easier to spot. (Okay, so the nation's insiders hain't been all that sophisticated for the last thirty years, either. I'm old. Just play along.)
So, Our Story So Far: In the 50s and 60s, the peaceable sleep of Naptowners, like much of the rest of the country, is disturbed by angry Negroes; decent, hard-working white people run for the border (of Marion county, in this instance). In the late 60s Republicans, on a Nixonish roll, gain control of the mayor's office (in the person of dynamic young waxwork Dick "Eagle Scout" Lugar), the City Council, and the Statehouse, and they react by extending the city limits to the edge of the county, incorporating all those white voters and maintaining political control for the next quarter-century. The next thing they did was to…
[Okay, y'know, I'm not the guy to bound this shit in a nutshell, but here's one: Lugar, who we sent to the Senate two lifetimes ago, and who has rewarded us by doing absolutely nothing but fluff his own resumé since, was asked by local teevee about the extension of unemployment benefits on the eve of the Senate vote a few weeks ago. And he muttered something about negotiations, and then said, more clearly, that he expected a deal would get worked out. Well, it didn't--oh, shit, please sit down retroactively--and after the vote Lugar was nowhere to be seen; Choirboy Pence did the heavy lifting of explaining why Republicans who voted against it were really the compassionate ones. So now there's another vote coming up. Indiana's unemployed are hurting, and they aren't being helped by the fact that undercounting them and explaining them away is now a full-time job for Mitch Daniels 2012, Inc. And now Lugar shows up again, microphone held reverently in front of his melting waxwork kisser, to say that he'd really, really vote for the thing if it was just a matter of compassion, but there's the troubling matter of all these budget-busting add-ons he's too busy to name. And this is a guy who--like 98% of his Senate colleagues over the century he's been there--has rubber-stamped $ trillions in Defense Spending, and $ trillions more in supplemental Good Wars, and no one with a microphone can even be bothered asking the fucking question.]
Anyway, the Lugar administration also gets the General Assembly to create the Capital Improvement Board, which is a private corporation with the power to tax, something the Republican party has long stood for. The intention--this much is just fucking nakedly out there--is to artificially prop up land values in the Downtown area which white people have left in droves, before all the 100-year leases begin expiring around 1990. First they build a Convention Center, and the funding (a food and beverage tax voted in by those tax-loving GOPers) does so well that they find they've got lots of extra money and no legal recourse but to retire the construction bonds early, so, of course, they just ignore the law and start building other shit, much of which benefits the nascent Simon Mall, Development, and Boondoggle Group. Eventually the city gets into the Pro Sports game, building The Late Market Square Arena when the Pacers get tired of playing in the Bovine Exhibition Hall at the State Fairgrounds, then building an inflatable Dome and stealing the Colts in the middle of the night in order to justify the cost of all that helium, then a new minor league baseball stadium, on accounta MLB said the old one was dirty.
[By the way, how many of you live in a locality with a minor league team? Do they play in a palace, or a glorified dirigible hanger with bleachers? Yet MLB turned up--just as both the NFL and NBA would--just in time to tell us the place was substandard and they might be forced to move. And no one asked where there was a spanking new minor league stadium waiting for a new tenant; we just built a grand new baseball palace, a minor-league Camden Yards, downtown, and left a grand old baseball palace, a copy of Wrigley Field (it's where Eight Men Out was filmed) out on the westside to fucking rot. My dad saw Babe Ruth barnstorm there, and Jimmy Foxx hit one into the lights. Mortecai "Three Finger" Brown and Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched from that mound, and the whole Big Red Machine minus Bench and Rose played together there in the 60s. Woulda cost much less to restore the place than build the new manse (which is a great place to watch a ballgame, no question), but the question was never in doubt. Downtown property values, Come On Down! Er, Up!
[Which reminds me, by the way, that the Daniels administration is on the verge of junking Ernie Pyle's Boyhood Home, now a state historic site, because it isn't turning a big enough profit. I can't say it often enough: this malignant motherfucking dwarf wants to be Your Next President.]
Then the Pacers needed a new arena, because the old one faced the wrong way, and, of course, the Colts needed a new billion-dollar football barn which seated exactly the same number of people, but in more expensive seats. Then the Pacers wanted a better deal because the Colts got one, and then the whole PR machine of gubment, quasi-gubment, and local teevee and free buffet samplers got into the act and purely fucking manufactured a legitimate and contractual threat that the Pacers might leave unless they got an extra $15 mil a year.
So last evening I checked all three local teleprompter festivals, where the newly announced giveaway was the Lead Story. All of 'em asked the Man on the Street what he thought of the deal. All of 'em found the public without exception overjoyed that the city had managed to stave off the loss of a professional basketball team which ranks 27th among 30 in attendance.
And this was concluded, on Channel 13, by a look at their online poll: 80% of respondents saying it was a bad deal. Presumably they all stay indoors, or, as is more likely, there's now two Americas and one of them happily dwells the other side of the Looking Glass until absolute disaster moves 'em two feet.