Thursday, May 24, 2007

Super Bowl in the 817, Holla!

OK, my boycott of Arlington is obviously not working.

So how much is a Super Bowl worth anyway? Depends on whom you ask. Some say $400 million and others say it's about a tenth of that.

But is it worth it for Arlington? Tom Kelly, Director of the Baylor Center for Business and Economic Research, contends that the town with a stadium like this suffers a winner's curse and "ends up paying for a facility that may be justified for the entire region but not for the particular jurisdiction." That seems true in this case. I'm betting that most of the partying will be going on in Uptown Dallas and not downtown Arlington. But we'll save a booth for Jerry Jones at the TGIFriday's on Collins and Ballpark -- just in case.

Of course, this delusion should be clear to Arlington, but it's not. Arlington is an established sports stadium whore that is willing to spread her legs for any sports owner with an itch to build a stadium. Case in point: The Ballpark in Arlington or what ever it's called this week. Reason magazine looked at this back in 2005 in the run-up to the special election in Arlington to finance JerryWorld. What they found was "the stadium clearly benefited the Rangers' owners more than anyone else: [George W.] Bush turned his initial $600,000 investment into $15 million when the team was sold in 1999. But it has produced little of the promised economic benefit to Arlington, and there has never been a real 'public use' factor aside from baseball fans' paying their money to see games."

So was it worth it Arlington? I'm completely biased and have an ax to grind, so I'm going to say no. Your town is still a dump. Former Mayor Richard Greene -- Mr. Really-Tight-Underwear himself -- used to say "we're nobody's damn suburb." But if Arlington is a big city, no one seems to have gotten the memo. It has plenty of big city problems (crime, education and infrastructure are all issues) without any of the big city amenities (fine hotels and dining, a downtown, any kind of civic life not revolving around a mall or an amusement park.) Hell, it doesn't even have mass transit -- but they are fixing that just for the Super Bowl. Woo. Hoo.

But putting aside issues like the dubious economic benefits, misuse of eminent domain and letting Jerry suckle at the government teat, maybe we shouldn't be asking Arlington if it was worth it. Maybe we should be asking Dallas. Of course, the D(a)MN is playing nice with Pollyanna editorials, but bitterness does seep through. And if you turn on sports radio and listen to Galloway or Hansen, that bitterness turns into a full-on anti-Laura Miller diatribe. Think there aren't some people who wish Big D has forked over some government moolah to bring the Cowboys back to town? There's lots of 'em.

So is it worth it? Well, to quote Tom Kelly again, that depends on Arlington's "ability to attract new income into the area and to maintain the circular flow of that income within the city limits." If you think Arlington can do this, then, yeah, you probabIy think it is worth it. You know what I think already. All this is just putting lipstick on a pig.

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