With a unanimous vote Thursday, Allen County Council members officially urged state lawmakers to consider legislation that would allow Memorial Coliseum access to additional funding.
The resolution asks members of the Indiana General Assembly to consider a pair of bills that would allow the Coliseum to access more funding from the Professional Sports Convention and Development Area.
Under a Professional Sports Convention and Development Area, the state collects tax revenue generated in that area and returns a percentage of it to Allen County, where it is split between the Coliseum and Grand Wayne Center downtown. The revenue generated in that area can only use its share of those funds for capital projects, not operating expenses.
The proposed changes were part of the county's list of 2021 legislative priorities. Specifically, county officials would like to increase the amount Allen County receives from $3 million to $4 million a year, County Commissioner Therese Brown said.
Of the $3 million Allen County currently receives from the Professional Sports Convention and Development Area, about $2.6 million goes to the Coliseum. Grand Wayne Center receives about $400,000.
If approved by the state, the Coliseum would receive $3.6 million a year, up to 40% of which would be available for operating costs.
The county supports state lawmakers raising the cap on the amount of money that comes back to Allen County and allowing the Coliseum to use at least some of that money for operating costs, Council President Kyle Kerley said.
“We've garnered some support, but as this is special legislation that only affects one county, we've been asked to pass a resolution in support of this,” Kerley said.
Kerley stressed that the proposal is not a tax increase.
“Right now we have more money going out than is actually coming back and we're just trying to recapture that piece of the pie and bring it back to Allen County to benefit the taxpayers and benefit economic development in Allen County,” he said.
The pandemic has hit the Coliseum hard, causing hundreds of event cancellations in 2020. In June, the County Council approved more than $3.5 million to help the venue pay its 2020 operating expenses.
The venue registered a $3.2 million loss last year.