January 13, 2005

Indianapolis Downtown Family Friendly?

By now, half the world has heard about the Colts' big deal with the city of Indianapolis, a package of incentives including a brand spanking new stadium with a retractable roof, most of which the mayor wants to pay for with an increased tax for restaurant patrons and those who rent hotel rooms in the county, paired up with the revenues the city would gain from putting a casino in the downtown area.

That last bit will involve some law changes on the state level to allow casinos on land, since they now must be on riverboats, or what passes for riverboats, on a body of water. They don't have to be free-floating any longer, and most of them are permanently affixed to huge landbased hotel and shopping mall complexes. But an actual building that contains a casino? Not in this state, not so far.

There was a bid to bring a casino into French Lick (you gotta love that name) at a wonderful old resort that was built for that purpose early in the 20th century. But even that hasn't happened yet. Can you say "Trump"?

But a casino in the downtown Indianapolis area?

Actually, I think it's a wonderful idea. We have a great historic building downtown, in close proximity to the old dome and the proposed new dome site, that really is being wasted by its current uses. The Union Station building, restored at great expense and owned by the city, is housing nothing but a small school and a few businesses, none of them taking the entire building. Union Station is a perfect site for a casino/shopping/hotel complex. Hell, the hotel is already there and does a huge business.

So what's the hold up? You're going to love this. There is a contingent in this city that doesn't want it there because it will change downtown and make it into something other than the "family friendly" place it is now.

Family friendly? Who are they kidding? Downtown Indianapolis is nothing if it is not an Adults Only Mecca for youngish drinkers. The bars line up, one after the other, interupted only by a few entrances into the Circle Center Mall, and one of them has a brew-pub/bar as well. Even the establishments with outdoor dining during the warmer months are prohibited from allowing children into the patio/sidewalk areas because they are bars, not restaurants.

The Slippery Noodle, the oldest bar in Indianapolis and a great place to hear live blues from local and national acts, has al fresco dining at patio tables on their sidewalk. But in order for my 10 yr old to hear the music, we have to sit in the car, parked by the curb across the street. She can go into a restaurant that serves beer, wine, and mixed drinks, but she cannot sit outside at a table with her parents to hear the Uppity Blues Women or Gene Deer.

If we want to take her out to a downtown restaurant, we have very few choices, among them Bucca de Bepo and Spaghetti Factory. Anything else is off limits because they are adult only.

If I want to take her for a walk downtown, I have to make sure I keep her off of the main drag, Meridian Street, as soon as the sun goes down because of the drunken party-types both inside the fenced-off patio areas and on the sidewalk. If I drive her downtown to see the Christmas display on Monument Circle, I have to consider what she might see around the bars.

But to hear these people talk, it's the proposed casino that will ruin the downtown area for families. Sorry, folks, that happened a long time ago and it wasn't a casino that did it. Downtown is no more family friendly than that infamous bar district masquarading as an artsy district, Broad Ripple, or the renovated stretch of Mass. Avenue.

So forget that arguement. It doesn't wash. Downtown hasn't been a "Family Friendly" place for years. Put the casino in and keep some of those millions of dollars now going to the riverboats on the Ohio River and up on Lake Michgan here in the county. It's past due, and your arguements against it are falacious.

Posted by Mamamontezz at January 13, 2005 01:42 AM

Yes, I believe it's called hippocrasy, the Nimbies(not in my backyard) can't compete so they'll legislate the competition out of business. This will only drive it underground and encourage other associated crime, then again isn't government mostly a win -win criminal enterprise anyway.

Posted by: Jack at January 13, 2005 07:07 AM

Open up gaming and a few whorehouses inside the hotel and they will have enough money in just a few months.

Posted by: Catfish at January 13, 2005 10:30 AM

Last time I was in downtown Indianapolis it was not quite like that. I needed to be heavily armed and driving a very fast car. Times sure have changed but not those corn fed dual standard system. Still miss those damn tenderloin sandwichs though. I bet even Acid dude would like one of those.

Posted by: James Old Guy at January 13, 2005 11:12 AM

You didn't mention the name of that resort, but I suspect it's the one owned by Al Capone in the 1920s, and later was a seminary as well as a branch campus of Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. With more than a million one-inch floor tile pieces in incredible patterns, and wonderful interior decor, it would in fact make a terrific casino. And French Lick and West Baden both would be horrified to have it that way. Capone was bad enough.

Posted by: weaselteeth at January 15, 2005 12:43 AM

I thought that Broad Ripple was the Adults Only Mecca for youngish drinkers.

Posted by: Will at January 15, 2005 09:07 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?