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To you, Indianapolis may be nothing more than an I-65 inconvenience on the way to Chicago. To Mayor Karl Dean, it's a blueprint for a future Nashville.
A couple weeks ago, before sitting down with Dean to talk about the proposed Music City Center, I got an e-mail from the Mayor's office with a link to an article about Indianapolis's revitalized downtown. For $500 million, the city is doubling the size of its convention center and building a 1,500 room hotel. The article was from USA Today
. It quoted four people, three of whom made their living selling the city to tourists. It was a poorly argued preemptive answer to the question Why start a billion dollar project in the middle of the Great Recession?
Now comes this: Indianapolis officials are threatening to close Lucas Oil Stadium
, their brand new football field/convention center add-on, unless state officials agree to hike sin taxes in order to raise nearly $50 million. The city's previous mayor, in a rush to get the thing built, severely underestimated how much it would cost to keep the thing running. Thus the shortfall.
Of course, we've seen the beginnings of this misinformation campaign already. In a letter to council members, MDHA head Phil Ryan claimed Nashville's old convention center cost the city nothing
. He failed to mention the roughly $1 million a year it cost to keep the place running (precisely the same bad math that's catching up with Indianapolis, the cultural void we're supposed to be immitating).
But forget all that. Let's be more like Indy!