Stealth sports arena


There are three words that the Chamber Pots and other supporters of this package hope you won't hear very often: "Downtown Sports Arena". For all their claims that this package represents what the people say they want, they are being very quiet about this item. At $183 million, it is the single largest item among the "visioning" projects, and second only to the Boeing incentives in the entire package. Although they say people are demanding a new Downtown Sports Arena, they aren't using it to sell the package.

(Come to think of it, since $250 million of the Boeing incentives are a loan that they will repay, Boeing would have a net cost of $100 million. So the Downtown Sports Arena is in fact the single most expensive item on this ballot.)

Today's Tulsa Whirled story, announcing the news that the Tulsa Metro Chamber endorses the $885 million tax package, provided this description of the package.

Citizens will go to the polls Sept. 9 to vote on four parts to the package. The package calls for a 13-year, 1-cent sales tax to support four proposals: $350 million in incentives to lure Boeing Co. to build its next-generation 7E7 plant in Tulsa; $22.3 million in incentives for American Airlines; $350.3 million for jobs, education and economic development; and $157.4 million for community enrichment infrastructure.

A $5 million senior rebate program brings the total package to $885 million.

The incentives for American Airlines would fund new tooling, equipment and inventory to keep that company's maintenance and engineering facilities in Tulsa. The community enrichment por tion includes parks, trails and attractions such as the Jazz Hall of Fame, Route 66, Arkansas River improvements and the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Where's the Downtown Sports Arena? The official euphemism ("events center") is not even used in this description, despite its $183 million cost.

Someone sent me a press release from the "Forfeit 4 Greater Taxes" campaign. In listing the projects in "Proposition 3: Economic Development / Educational / Health Care & Events Facilities", the so-called "events center" is listed next to last, following seven much less expensive projects.

I have heard that the Chamber Pots have marketing data that says their polling numbers go down every time the phrase "Downtown Sports Arena" is used.

(All together now: Downtown Sports Arena. Downtown Sports Arena. Downtown Sports Arena. Downtown Sports Arena.)

That's why they insisted on hiding the Downtown Sports Arena under an assumed name and tying it with other, more popular items. Business leaders even threatened to withhold money from the "vote yes" campaign if the Downtown Sports Arena was forced to stand on its own on the ballot. If you're wondering why elected officials didn't insist on a more logical ballot structure, there's your answer.

The Chamber Pots must think Tulsa County voters are pretty stupid. Burying the Downtown Sports Arena in a pile of little projects is like trying to hide an elephant in a jelly bean jar by painting its toenails different colors.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 15, 2003 10:54 AM.

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