Quips and Qualms: Muncie could be financially capable to fund NFL team

A message to Colts' owner Jim Irsay: If Indianapolis can't handle the Colts, forget Los Angeles. Bring your team to Muncie.

Recent speculation has the Colts leaving Indianapolis and heading to Los Angeles if the city doesn't start paying more for the NFL franchise - at least $10 million more. Indianapolis already spends about $10 million on the team a year, most of which comes from parking and luxury suite leases at the RCA Dome and from hotel and restaurant taxes paid by visitors and residents alike.

In an article in The Indianapolis Star last week, Irsay said the Colts would remain in Indy through the 2003 season. But Irsay never said he wouldn't move the team after that. Obviously, Indy doesn't want the team to skip town, and team officials have said the team would like to stay in Indianapolis as long as the city pays more for the franchise.

All of this seems ridiculous, but a simple solution exists. Move the Colts from Indy, but keep them in the state.

Irsay, bring your team to Muncie.

Perhaps making Muncie the new home of the Colts sounds more ridiculous than the team's request for an additional $10 million. But when actually thinking about it, Muncie makes sense.

Admittedly, Muncie isn't the economic or commercial center of the state. If Indianapolis can't afford the Colts, how could Muncie?

Easy answer - Ball State helps the city. Despite a $26 million funding cut from the state, this university still has to be raking in the cash. For instance, students probably pay enough in parking fines everyday to support two NFL franchises.

Let's not forget the recently approved hike on freshmen tuition. Thanks to the Board of Trustees, new students will be paying $1,000 more next year. That money is estimated to bring in $3.5 million in its first year and reach $14 million by the 2007-2008 academic year. University President Blaine Brownell said by that time, administrators hope to have about $30 million for Ball State's Strategic Plan.

No doubt the university could just roll that extra dough into a professional football team fund. As broad as the Strategic Plan is, they should have no problem throwing the money Irsay's way.

Because both would be financing the franchise, Ball State and Muncie would both benefit from it. Namely, the Colts would be a huge draw for the city and the university would grow along with it.

The Colts stand to gain in the deal, too. The team wants a new stadium to play in and Ball State's football stadium has been continually under renovation since May 2000. Once complete, the university's stadium will have a seating capacity around 30,000.

Granted, the Colts already seat more in the RCA Dome, which has a capacity of about 60,000 fans. But the downside to that is the Colts usually don't sell out home games. Most hover around 56,000 in attendance, according to www.sportsfansofamerica.com.

With fewer seats, the non-sellout problem disappears. Also, less seats could create greater demand, which in turn could allow ticket prices to skyrocket, providing even more money for the franchise, city and university (thanks Econ 201).

Ball State's football stadium has also gained a new training facility from the renovations, and with the Colts' symmetric logo, the university wouldn't have to worry about painting it backwards on the scoreboard like last year's blunder with the Cardinal logo.

Additionally, the stadium isn't used on Sundays or Monday nights, and if a conflict between Ball State's team and the Colts arises, the Colts could always practice at LaFollette Field.

Perhaps having the Colts practice in LaFollette Field and play at the stadium seems ridiculous. Perhaps legal issues exist where a public university cannot realistically split the price of a professional sports team with a city. Perhaps university officials would still manage to mess up the Colts' logo on the scoreboard.

But if Irsay is seriously considering moving the Colts, there's room in Muncie for a football team with a winning record. Forget Los Angeles; forget Indianapolis.

Irsay, bring your team to Muncie.

Write to Chris at crschilling@bsu.edu


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