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Demolish or Not to Demolish

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Larry Keller

08/28/06  That's the question!  But, what about another budget buster, too?

  At last week's council meeting, several of the council members focused on the cost of operating Reunion Arena vs. the cost of demolishing it.  The matter came up with a renewal contract for telephone service, which includes over 100 lines in the facility.  Several council members thought that was shocking, and it led to their obvious conclusion that we need to demolish Reunion.
Equating telephone lines to a need for demolition of Reunion may be a stretch for you, but not for our city council. 

My little office has 12 telephone lines, and our floor space is microscopic when compared to Reunion.  In a facility the size of Reunion, it's surprising they only need 100 lines.
    08/29/06 Stan Aten:
f the ownership were to change at Reunion, would the restrictions about booking events still apply?
   If the restrictions were to end with an ownership change, here are a few options to consider:
#1 Consider selling Reunion to a profit making company that will compete with AAC.   If sold to private interests, Reunion could be added to the tax rolls.  Asking price should be at least the $18 million still owed in debt.
#2 Sell it to DISD.  It is still a govt. body, but with deeper pockets.   DISD could use Reunion for athletic activities, basketball,  other sporting events.   City would save the $1 million in operating losses and gain additional sales tax from any food or beverage sales.
#3 Give it to DISD.  Cut our losses and generate some sales tax and parking revenue.  I don't know if DISD would use Reunion every day, but they have enough big sporting events and graduation events that it is worth a shot.
#4 The "Red Light" district is a valid option.  It would remove adult businesses from residential areas and bring them closer to their supposed convention based customers.
  You knew it was coming.  Just before the arena sales tax election in 1998, when the pro-arena sales tax crowd's own poll showed people did not want Reunion demolished, Con Jerk/Ron Kirk lied to everyone and promised it would not be demolished, but would operate as a second venue facility.

Of course, Con Jerk and former City MisManager John Ware promptly turned over Reunion to the American Airlines Center folks (Hicks/Perot, Jr. flunkies) to run, more accurately run it into the ground.  Kirk and Ware gave the AAC gang first right to any booking before Reunion.  The AAC gang never tried to market Reunion.  After they had killed off any future interest in Reunion by under-marketing it, the AAC gang unceremoniously dumped it back on the city council, as the deal Kirk and Ware cut for them allows. 

Unfortunately for Reunion and Dallas taxpayers, the AAC gang still gets first right to any bookings secured for Reunion, even now that it's controlled by the city.  So, whenever Reunion management finds an event for Reunion, the AAC gang just takes that event to their arena, without any marketing effort on their part at all.  We don't share in any event revenues from the AAC, because the AAC gang pay the City $3.5+/- a year "rent".  We would have revenue from Reunion, if the AAC gang would allow it to be utilized.

  Aren't there any good civic-minded lawyers in town willing to challenge the AAC-Reunion bad deal?  If there ever was a conflict of interest, it would most certainly be Ron Kirk/Con Jerk and former City MisManager John Ware negotiating that contract with Ross Perot, Jr. and Tom Hicks.  Ware took a job with Hicks a few months after the election.  Kirk's wife was holding $750,000 worth of stock options in a Hicks company for a short term as a token Black woman on one of Hicks companies.

See Hicks & Mrs. Kirk for the specific story and what Tom Hicks said about his appointing Matrice Kirk to one of his corporate boards.  That's from 1999, but -- a good story always bears repeating.  Here's what the Houston Chronicle reported in 2002: logo
Aug. 19, 2002, 9:32PM
Wife's lucrative board job issue in Kirk's Senate bid 
By CLAY ROBISON Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau 
AUSTIN -- A lucrative corporate board appointment for Ron Kirk's wife, which raised questions while Kirk was mayor of Dallas, is being resurrected as an issue in Kirk's race for the U.S. Senate.
  Matrice Ellis Kirk served only 13 months on the board of Chancellor Broadcasting Co. and resigned in February 1997, after Tom Hicks, the Dallas businessman who appointed her to the board, became involved in negotiations with her husband and other city officials for a new sports arena.
  But Matrice Kirk kept her stock options and cashed in more than $275,000 worth through a successor company last year, according to income tax information released by her husband's senatorial campaign last week. . . .
  The Kirks have denied any impropriety in Matrice Kirk's part-time service on the board of Chancellor, which later became part of Clear Channel Communications Inc.  And Justin Lonon, a spokesman for the Kirk campaign, said on Monday that she was well-qualified for the appointment. . . .
  Hicks in 1999 told the Dallas Morning News that he gave Matrice Kirk the board seat because of her gender and race -- the Kirks are black -- and because her family was having "trouble adjusting without her income."

What The Dallas Managed News' Brooks Egerton actually reported in July 11, 1999 (less than 5 months after the arena sales tax election) was:

Hicks cites race, gender in board offer
July 11, 1999 by Brooks Egerton/ The Dallas Morning News
... Mr. Hicks said in a recent interview, "If she wasn't a female and she wasn't African-American, I would not have offered her the board seat....

Guess if you're rich enough, you can be a bigot and a misogynist, and everyone still thinks you're a swell guy. 

Then, there's the issue of the
The Dallas Managed News sitting on the information throughout the arena sales tax campaign and election.  Can you imagine the election results if that story had got out then, rather than 5 months later?

But, I digress.  Where were we?  Oh, yes, demolishing Reunion, which Ron Kirk/Con Jerk promised would not happen. 

  It's a great building, and still good looking.  Last week, I went to San Antonio for a couple of days on Amtrak and got to see Reunion from the Union Station area.  It doesn't look dated.  It's interesting.  It should not be demolished.

It ought to be used in conjunction with the Convention Center for overflow.  Oh, that's right -- we don't use the Convention Center very much either.  So, I guess there's not much overflow from that.  Why don't we just demolish the Convention Center and redevelop that entire area?

Since the council is so concerned about the $1.5+/- million we spend annually on Reunion Arena, why don't we demolish the Meyerson, too?   The Meyerson costs us twice as much annually (over all revenue) as we spend on Reunion.  It's been costing us over $3 million annually since it was opened in the 80's -- again, that's after applying all revenue.  At least Reunion used to make some money for us.

There are a lot of things we can do with Reunion besides demolishing it.

  We can save it for a casino when the Legislature finally bites the bullet and lets us sinners enjoy ourselves in a local gambling hall, rather than out of state.  Besides, some of my friends are getting older and shouldn't be driving to Oklahoma or Louisiana.  It would be a real convention draw.  That's my first choice.
  A  reporter buddy suggests we turn Reunion into our "contained" red light district.  We could move all the topless bars, massage parlors, bath houses, etc. inside Reunion.  Talk about a convention draw!  That's my last choice.

I use the Meyerson about as frequently as I would use Reunion.  I was at a concert at the Meyerson around Christmas of 2004 when my friend, Mark Shekter, directed one song in the Turtle Creek Chorale's Christmas Concert.  I was there last year for the council's swearing-in breakfast.  I can't think of when I've been there since. 

Granted, that makes me a classless barbarian who does not appreciate the fine arts or the need for Joe Taxpayer to subsidize the entertainment of the elite and artsy fartsy crowd.  Actually, I do enjoy music, most kinds of music.  I just don't like crowds and concerts.  High brow or low brow!

Unless someone knows something about some abatement, Cinemark offers me a great theatre to see stuff I want to see, even an IMAX which they built without government funding.  All I have to do is buy a ticket.  No one's taxes are used to subsidize my entertainment.

If there is a market for symphonic music and opera and live theatre, private enterprise would build those facilities.  Why should Joe Taxpayer have to subsidize someone else's good time?  It would not bother me so much if those "cultural" halls were ever profitable, but they are usually major money losers.  It's my money the Meyerson is losing so some Park Cities swell can be entertained.

The Bass Family built a concert facility for Ft. Worth and gave it to their city.  Dallas fat cats do things differently.  Unlike Dallas facilities, the Bass Hall doesn't just cater to the elite, they have a variety of events that appeal to different people.  Dallas elite (actually the Park Cities elite) do not really want our unwashed masses to use their entertainment facilities.  In fact, they very much do not want the peons soiling their concert halls

So, again I ask you?  If we are going to demolish Reunion because it's costing us $1.5+/- million a year, why not get rid of the Meyerson, too?

We need to start looking at some part of the budget to find the $4-10 million annually it will cost us to maintain the fake lakes in the Trinity Trough -- if that bondoogle ever gets built.

  If you actually voted for the arena sales tax, and somebody did because they had 1,600 more votes than the Bad Dealers, would you have voted for it if Ron Kirk/Con Jerk had not assured you that Reunion Arena would not be demolished?

Reunion is not even paid for.  They rolled the $18 million debt into some scam involving the Convention Center, but that did not make the $18 million debt go away.

  We should have a protest march on City Hall to save Reunion Arena!  It's the American way!  Lately, it's everyone's way! 

We could have fifty people show up, and the media would say there were thousands of us.   

Council members would be shaking in their offices because elections are in May.  Since most of the council are considering a mayoral race, they would have to make an appearance at our protest and promise to support our cause.

It could unify the city!  We could have all the ethnic groups, everyone of every sexual persuasion, illegal and legal immigrants, actual citizens, blondes and brunettes. 

Our battle cry could be -- "Unity for Reunion"!   Or, "Bimbos against Demo"?  Or, "Save Reunion for Sinners"?  If you have something better, please let me know.

This is important.  It will cost a heck of a lot more than $1.5+/- million to tear down Reunion.  That's what Ray Hunt wanted us to do in the first place -- tear Reunion down at Joe Taxpayer's expense and then give the land to him.  That's exactly what this council intends to do.   We must act, before it's too late.

  They are coming at us from the back door of the out house, and the whole thing stinks!






  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