What Does G League Decision Mean?

I grew up reading everything Don Jellison wrote. It’s no secret that he was one of my newspaper heroes – and after almost half a century in this business I have still never come across anyone in the small daily newspaper world who writes better than he did.

So when the news broke last week about Noblesville getting the Pacers’ G League team that had previously been in Fort Wayne, I wondered what Don would say.

There’s no doubt he loved Noblesville. He loved sports. He wrote about both passionately. But he also wrote about life in general here and often crossed over from sports to news. One example that sticks out in my mind was when he caught wind of a plan involving government offices just off Indiana 37. Don asked straight questions, like he always did. Those questions had impacts.

So I wondered what he would think of the idea that the city was going to build a 3,400-seat arena for a mere $30-something million bucks?

I think, on one hand, he would be thrilled that Noblesville is growing as a sports city. I also think, based on multiple conversations we had during the period he worked for The Times, that he would have a lot of questions.

Will people pay to go to G League games when they can drive 45 minutes and see the varsity?

The agreement includes a projected $5 million in arena naming rights. Will that be $5 million in cash or a trade of some sort?

What will this mean for taxpayers?

If the city goes in debt for this, what does that mean for the future?

Is Noblesville becoming another Carmel in terms of building now and owing later?

The city used to bring in more money than it spent. Is that still true?

If the private sector built a 3,400-seat arena, would it cost $30something million, or would it be considerably less?

Was there any collaboration with Carmel or Fishers in this, or are they competitors?

Do partnerships make more sense for taxpayers?

It would seem clear that Noblesville officials – starting with Mayor Chris Jensen – think this is the right move going forward. And you have to believe they have studied other communities with sports as part of the overall growth plan. Westfield, for example, has financial issues with Grand Park. Those issues will likely outlast the mayor who helped make the whole concept of Grand Park a reality. That means future mayors will be dealing with a financial problem not of their making – much like Carmel.

Will the same be true in Noblesville?

It depends on a couple of things. First, how long will Jensen be in the mayor’s office? His predecessor John Ditslear was there for four terms, from 2004 to 2020. If Jensen stays that long, he’ll be there long enough to start and finish this project. If he leaves before, then someone else will either reap the benefits of what proved to be a wise financial decision – or try to find an answer if it is not.

Take a look around Noblesville and you will see a lot of changes, perhaps more in the last three years than in the 30 before that.

And that’s where everything stands now. Noblesville is in a different place now than it was just a few years ago. If voters think different means better, Jensen can stay in this job as long as he wants. If voters think differently, then what happens next?

Of all the questions percolating, that might be the biggest one.

-Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically in The Times. Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is also a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at [email protected]