For almost a century the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the biggest draw in terms of tourism dollars in Indiana and now it is requesting some public assistance to enhance that impact.
IMS officials are hoping the Indiana General Assembly will pass legislation creating a motorsports investment district to help offset a projected $100 million investment to the facility.
The investment district would capture the state sales and income taxes — projected at $5 million per year — to help pay off bonds meant for installing lights around the 2.5 mile oval, upgrade video screens, and improved seating and compliance with federal disabled accessibility requirements.
With the state providing $5 million per year, IMS would still provide $2 million of the funding on an annual basis.
IMS has never sought funding or tax breaks from Indiana or the city of Indianapolis, always paying its own way. The other sports entity in the state capital not to ask for tax dollars are the Indianapolis Indians, which footed the cost for Victory Field.
Over the years, the legislature has provided funding for new stadiums for the Indianapolis Colts, basketball arenas for the Indiana Pacers and improvements to the Indiana Convention Center and the Colts practice facility.
Those funds are filtered through the Capital Improvement Board to the tune of $16 million per year.
Should IMS receive approval from the legislature, it will continue to pay property taxes to Marion County and the city of Speedway and I’m quite sure it’s a healthy sum.
The Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly reported in 2011 that the IMS and the Indianapolis 500 contributed more than $727 million to the state’s economy. Purdue University estimated the Indianapolis 500 brings in $336 million to the state’s economy while the home games of the Indianapolis Colts generates $104 million.
Lighting the 2.5 mile IMS oval can only draw more fans to Indianapolis. Fans that will spend money on food, entertainment, lodging and fuel.