New Tune, Same Melody
At $250 million in public money, the FedExForum is the City's largest ever public project. We were assured repeatedly that $250 million was all that was needed, and it might even be more than was needed.
Piffle. This recent Commercial Appeal editorial comes out in favor of an additional $14 million in neighborhood amenities, to improve the experience for FedExForum visitors.
First impressions are critical, and Memphis has much to gain by creating a welcoming environment around the FedExForum, scheduled to open downtown next fall.It's always about the downtown. If first impressions mean so much, why aren't we also doing something about some of the streets and areas that travellers must first go through to get downtown? Driving in from the south on I-55, Memphis look like an industrial dump. How about spending money there? Oh, wait...it's all about the downtown. That's Memphis. I forgot.
Improving the streets, sidewalks and lighting around the building would represent an exercise in common sense. The new home of the Memphis Grizzlies, and perhaps the University of Memphis men's basketball team, is a key element in a downtown revitalization effort important to the overall economic health of the city.
The rest of the editorial is the usual head-nodding solemnising about sense, investments and success. It's worse than being in a corporate staff meeting.
How much longer will Memphians continue to tolerate the distortion in our civic and governmental lives that a focus on downtown is causing? Many more areas of this city are equally, if not more, in need of attention. Between that downtown island of prosperity and the outer ring of new development is an older band of neglected people. We deserve some infrastructure improvements, too.
The Commercial Appeal needs to cure its myopia and favor the rest of us with its benevolent favors.