Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another Unheeded Lesson for Memphis

Great in-depth history and review of the San Diego Sports Arena that shows how it's been a profit-maker for the team owners but a major tax drain for the city itself.

You'd think we would have learned our lesson with the Pyramid. It was a sham sold to the city in a hurry, cheerled by a compliant media itself seeing visions of advertising profits. Questions and calls to slow down were brushed aside as carping. It was built anyway and today we, the people of Memphis who are paying for it, are still stuck with nearly $30 million in debt. The people responsible have moved on.

Then came the Houston Oilers fiasco. The backers were poorly funded and organised. They hadn't greased the right palms and didn't have their ducks in a row. They failed. Lessons were relearned and reconsidered.

They did indeed learn their lessons and had a plan already in place to rush through the FedUp Forum. City leaders had their "tiger team" already in place and well funded when the announcements were made. The Commercial Appeal made sure to demonise and isolate those who were skeptical or resistant by collapsing all protest into the lone "renegade" and solitary figures of Duncan Ragsdale and Heidi Schafer.

My question today is: How much tax revenue has the Forum generated for the City? Not ancillary taxes from businesses around it, nor "multiplier effects" taxes, but how much money has the Forum put directly into the City's coffers? How much has it generated? How does that compare to predictions? (I seem to remember hearing that it was below expectations. Am I wrong?)

Is it more than the costs of keeping the Pyramid and Coliseum on "maintenance death?" I'd wager not.

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