Arena good, boondoggle bad; why no vote on river plan?

O what a contrast there is, my countrymen, between the Trinity River Boondoggle and the proposed multipurpose arena at Will Rogers Center. The arena proponents’ advertising tells the story: The proposed 14,000 seat facility will complement, not replace, the 5000-plus seat Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum; will draw concerts and other events to Fort Worth; and will provide a modern, customer-friendly new home for the historic Stock Show Rodeo.

Beyond that – and this is crucial – private sector contributors led by Sundance Square developer Ed Bass will provide half the estimated $450 million needed to build the arena and will absorb any cost overruns. The public’s share of the project’s cost will be paid not by property taxes but by user fees on parking, arena tickets and livestock stalls and pens used for events at the Will Rogers Center. The only tax revenues used for the project will come from a portion of hospitality-related taxes collected within three miles of the arena.

Another important point, as stated in a full-page ad published in this week’s Fort Worth Business Press:

“Unlike other North Texas arenas and stadiums, there is no private developer or franchise owner involved in the project and therefore all revenue derived from the City’s multipurpose Arena will be redirected back into its operations and maintenance.”

- FWBP Digital Partners -

But who are the beneficiaries-in-waiting for the Trinity River Boondoggle? Consider the Boondoggle-arena contrast. The Boondoggle’s $909 million cost, all borne by the taxpayers, is more than twice the cost of the arena. Fort Worth voters have already passed two bond issues with no assurance that future bonds will not be needed. Half of the $909 million cost is supposed to be provided not by voluntary contributions from philanthropists and other concerned citizens but by taxpayers via the bankrupt federal government. And what happens if the wished-for federal largesse never comes?

Voters are being given three arena votes on the ballot. They have never been given one upfront vote on the Boondoggle. Instead, its promoters palmed off the costs by selling them to bond voters as street improvements. O what a contrast, my countrymen! Viva the Arena! Thumbs down on the Boondoggle!

Don Woodard Fort Worth