- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis International Airport board cancelled a proposed $500 million medical center and sports venue project Friday amid pressure from community leaders worried about the developer’s ability to pull off the massive project.

The board unanimously rejected all proposals for the unused 130 acres at the airport’s former terminal and said it would start over.

“We will leave our options open and continue to search for the optimal project,” the Indianapolis Airport Authority said in a statement.

Friday’s vote came after community leaders raised questions about the project’s startup real-estate developer, Athlete’s Business Network. The company had faced criticism for having never built a real estate project and for not providing clear signs it could finance or manage such a huge complex, The Indianapolis Business Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1pt748Y ).

ABN had proposed building a massive center with four medical office buildings, a brain health research center, two hotels and a 20,000-seat stadium. The board’s vote came a month after the company had unveiled its ambitious proposal to the public, saying it would create 3,000 jobs for physicians, nurses, technicians, researchers, administrators and support staff.

The airport authority board had been under enormous pressure from community leaders, including the administration of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, to reconsider the proposal.

Board Chairman Kelly Flynn had emailed other board members on Tuesday, telling them the deal was losing support. That email said that “in order for us to be successful in putting this land back on the tax rolls, we need to take a step back.”

Some health executives, including the leaders of Indiana University Health - the state’s largest hospital system - and the IU School of Medicine publicly questioned the seriousness of the proposal to build a massive medical center.

The Indianapolis Business Journal had also raised questions about the credentials of ABN’s management team. In one article, it reported that CEO Craig Sanders is a former part-owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise that struggled, lost millions of dollars and filed for bankruptcy.

Sanders later filed for personal bankruptcy to protect his assets but said he subsequently settled with creditors and withdrew the petition.


Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal, https://www.ibj.com

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