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06/23/06   The End does not justify the Means!

As I sat at my desk waiting for the Mavericks to take court on Tuesday night, it seemed like the appropriate time to respond to those who ask me if it all wasn't worth it to have the American Airlines Center aka Hicks/Perot Arena for the NBA playoffs.

There may be someone out there who reads DallasArena.com who doesn't know what I'm talking about because it's been almost 10 years (January, 1998) since we lost a questionable election by 1700 votes that imposed a 5% sales tax on daily car rentals inside the city limits of Dallas and 2% on hotels inside the city of Dallas.  Every other city in the county can rent cars to conventioneers and tourists cheaper than we can.     06/23/06 JC
Right you are. 
 
If a person(s) wants the glory of owning a team then build the @#!%... arena with their own money.
 

We warned Dallas voters that those two arena taxes were going to destroy our convention business.  We were right. 

The West End restaurants and retailers supported the arena taxes because they were so dependent on the crowds from the Mavericks and Stars games at Reunion.  We warned them the Hicks/Perot Arena would be too far from them to be convenient for the sports crowd, and the Hicks/Perot Arena would eventually be their biggest competitor.  We were right. 

West End Marketplace closing
Tuesday, June 6, 2006 by STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning New
 
   The biggest retail building in downtown's West End district is closing its doors after 20 years.
   The West End Marketplace will shut down at the end of the month while owners of the historic structure come up with a redevelopment plan. Over the years, the building on Market Street has lost several major tenants, including Planet Hollywood and a movie theater.
... The West End Marketplace opened in 1986 as Dallas' first festival marketplace. The former Brown Cracker and Candy Co. building ? constructed between 1902 and 1908 ? was converted into a combination of shops, eateries and nightclubs with an interior atrium.
... Planet Hollywood opened in 1994 but shut down in 2001. A 10-screen cinema on the top floors operated about seven years before closing in 1993.
   Even with the resurgence downtown and construction of the nearby Victory project, the West End Marketplace has continued to lag.
...
And with the departure of high-profile restaurants including Dick's Last Resort, Tony Roma's and Lombardi's, "on the face, it could look bad right now," Mr. Schooley said. "But we are just having growing pains."

Did you ever think Dick's Last Resort would be leaving the West End?

Before the Hicks/Perot Arena, the West End was a major sales tax revenue resource for the city.

Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog
Can?t Spell Wednesday Without the ?W? (Hotel)
June 21, 2006

... There?s a spark now in a part of town where once there was nothing but pollution and the promise of something, anything, better. To think, just a few years ago the Stemmons/Harry Hines corridor was nothing more than an area of concern on the long-forgotten Dallas Plan, hatched in 1992 by the likes of former mayor Steve Bartlett. It was just 11 years ago that the area, formerly the home of the Dallas Electric Company generating plant (which was built in 1890), was considered a Brownfield by the Environmental Protection Agency, ...
  
It was also 11 years ago that a former columnist employed by the paper version of Unfair Park said a new arena would screw this city sideways. In fact last week she said the very same thing: Why ain?t the W and Victory Park (say it: Ross Perot Jr. and Tom Hicks) paying property tax? Well, short answer: They would have gone elsewhere without the tax increment finance district that paved the way for them to redevelop the area, that?s why. ...  Which isn?t to say Mayor Laura didn?t and doesn?t have a point?there will always be something icky about giving rich people millions of bucks in breaks?...
?Robert Wilonsky

As much as I love most of Wilonsky's stuff on "Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog", he could not be more wrong when he says "They would have gone elsewhere without the tax increment finance district that paved the way for them to redevelop the area, that?s why."  There wasn't any place for them to go.  Lewisville had held an election, and the locals said they didn't want to build Don Carter a new basketball arena.  Irving wasn't seriously competing.  Arlington would have been a bad location for basketball or hockey -- just like it is for baseball because you can't get there in a hurry on a week day or night.  Football usually is a weekend game, but it's still going to be a logistical nightmare getting to and from a football stadium in Arlington.

And the idea that Frisco could finance a major sports arena?  P-L-E-A-S-E.

Unfair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog
A Taxing Sports Equation
June 21, 2006

   Really, by the time you get to the end of this, you?ll feel much better about the Dallas Mavericks? loss last night. Really. If nothing else, you will be so confused you?ll forget there even was a basketball game last night. But try.
   I is not very good at the maths, so I can?t say for sure whether the conclusions reached by University of Texas at Arlington sports economics prof Craig Depken and his University of Baltimore associate Dennis Coates in their new study are right; hell, I am not sure I can even tell you what they mean. (Actually, I think I can: In short, major-league sports teams are good investments for their owners, usually, but bad investments for the cities in which they play. Wait, did Sharon Boyd write this thing?) But I sense there are some interesting things to be found in their paper Mega-Events: Is the Texas-Baylor game to Waco what the Super Bowl is to Houston?, in which they analyze how much money a city makes from a sporting event.
... Also among the revelations:

?College football games are not the economic windfall their sponsors think they are. [And] some megaevents are associated with increased sales tax revenue. Not all megaevents are created equal, however, and the various events are associated with substantially different tax revenues. Moreover, some are linked with tax revenue reductions. Finally, regular season professional football games are far more harmful to local sales tax revenues than are college football games, even in the cities that host both.?

What I think that means is: Arlington, you can have the Cowboys. Again, not quite sure.
...  ?The result is surprising,? say the profs, who conclude that college games actually bring in outsiders with money to burn while major-league sporting events draw mostly locals ?who attend the game rather than do something else,? like spend their money elsewhere....

?Robert Wilonsky

Think about it.  If your life was like mine during the Mavericks' playoffs, you were rushing home every other night to WATCH the game on your HOME TV.  You weren't going to a movie or anything, and you weren't shopping.  But, we've talked about all this so many times.  I want to talk about Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks.

I worked my way through college as the secretary for the Basketball Coach at North Texas State University (now University of North Texas).  I loved college basketball -- I loved basketball.  I never loved professional basketball, even when Dallas finally got a team.  I can't say that anymore.

I love everything about the Mavericks.  I love it that Cuban is an outrageous jerk who can't be muzzled.  I love Avery Johnson like you love an old friend, and I've never met the man.  I love Jason Terry.  I love Dirk N -- but I wish he would cut his hair.  I love Howard and Stack and Harris, et al.  I don't mean I like them -- I just love them.

Mark Cuban, Coach Johnson and their team have made me love basketball again.  I was as sad about not having one more night of championship basketball, as I was about the Mavericks not winning the championship.  I'm in complete withdrawal.

I heard a replay of the conversation between Cuban and sports jock Randy Galloway, after Galloway called the Mavericks "gutless".   Cuban called him out -- he said Galloway could criticize the team for some bad plays, but not for being "gutless".  Galloway must have been watching some other games the past week if he saw a gutless team in the playoffs.

I saw a bunch of young men who were fearless.  I saw a bunch of young men who clearly respected each other and took pride in each other's successful shots and successful defensive moves.  Not a gutless member in the bunch.

I saw a young coach who in one year pulled together a team that was in the NBA playoffs, a team that defeated the San Antonio Spurs to win the Western Championship.  I can close my eyes and see that piercing stare from Avery Johnson.  Nothing gutless about Avery Johnson.

Who was Galloway calling "gutless"?  Certainly not the referees.  They were very gutsy in their outrageous calls.

I still will never set foot in American Airlines Center, but that's about a whole other issue -- not because I don't love the Mavericks.  My husband has season tickets to the Stars, and I won't go to those games with him either.

We would not have experienced the Western Championship games or this NBA playoff series if Mark Cuban had not bought the Mavericks from Ross Perot, Jr.  For Perot, it was not about basketball, it was a real estate deal.   Perot wanted to do another big real estate development using other people's money (yours and mine), and the Mavericks were just a vehicle to get his real estate development. 

As I told the
Wall Street Journal  years ago, Ross Perot, Jr. is the ultimate welfare baby.  From his Daddy, he learned how to leverage weak politicians to get the most bang for someone else's buck and not share a penny with the public who subsidize his various business adventures.

Not that Cuban is above taking tax abatements, but at least he truly loves the game of basketball, and he has the good sense to give Avery Johnson what he needed and needs.

I don't know about you, but I have had more fun watching the Mavericks the past couple of weeks than anything I can remember in a long time.  I am grateful to Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson and their team for every one of those games, even the losing games.

Cuban may have caused the team some of the bias we saw from the referees, but he spoke the truth.  He made a valid suggestion that only the best refs be used in the playoff games.  It is inappropriate for the owner of the Western Division champions to speak publicly with profanity.  He owes it to his team not to do that. 

Your mother probably told you that "two wrongs do not make a right".  Well, a right (like an exciting winning season that took us to the NBA playoffs) does not right a wrong (like the scam that was pulled to get the arena sales tax). 

We have a great basketball team that will be back next year and will finish what they started this season.  We have a coach and team we can respect and who deserve our affection.

The new arena is a great facility, but it's a place of business that should have been paid for by the owners of the teams who play there.  Dallas taxpayers had already built the teams one place of business.

Nothing is ever going to make what John Ware and Ron Kirk did to Dallas taxpayers right.  It helps that Ross Perot, Jr. is no longer the owner of the Mavericks, but he will always be a robber baron who spent a couple of million (campaign contributions) to buy an election that resulted in a bad deal for Dallas taxpayers and a ten-fold return to Perot, Jr. on his campaign investment.

sb
 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8