A new stadium for the Cowboys?
|Publisher Wick Allison|
Jerry Jones is smoking something, and whatever it is, he’s got some county commissioners puffing it with him. He and they seem to think Dallas County voters will approve a $400 million subsidy to help him build a super-duper Cowboys stadium and entertainment complex.
Read my lips: it ain’t gonna happen.
No matter how hard they try, the Cowboys can’t escape the fact that an NFL team plays only eight regular-season games at home. That makes a new stadium an unprofitable proposition before it gets off the drawing board. To overcome that, the Cowboys are designing an "entertainment zone," with a museum, rides, and all sorts of fun stuffso much fun stuff that the construction bill will be around $650 million.
The talk is that the Cowboys need up to $400 million in subsidies to help pay the bill. The idea floating around is that voters will be asked to impose more hotel and rental-car taxes to pay for it. The justification, I suppose, will be that a Cowboys entertainment complex will draw so many visitors to Dallas that the influx will pay off the bonds. That’s wishful thinking. The real result would be to push our visitor taxes so high we’d send our struggling convention business into a hole it could never climb out of.
Let me say it again, in case anyone missed the message: it ain’t gonna happen.
Whether the new stadium is in Irving or near the Trinity in Dallas, the idea that Dallas County voters will subsidize Mr. Jones, his millionaire players, or his millionaire investors is about as likely as Terrell Bolton getting into the Ring of Honor.
Councilman Gary Griffith has a suggestion: Dallas is completing a plan to turn Fair Park into the year-round, seven-day-a-week entertainment zone it should have always been. The cost is estimated at $200 million, and the plan is to invest in increments in bond elections for the next 10 to 20 years. The plan was presented to the City Council in October, and it is innovative, practical, and excitingrestoring and using the assets that already exist at Fair Park.
The only problem with the plan is that Dallas will never do it. We are a great city for studying problems and coming up with ideas to solve them. But our city government has a mediocre record for actually getting things done. That’s no reason that we should miss this opportunity.
Our urban center is the only one in the world with 277 acres of park smack dab in the middle. Fair Park’s collection of art deco buildings is the largest in the world. The State Fair proves that millions will go to Fair Park when there is a reason to make the trip. The Cotton Bowl has completed a plan for a retractable roof and expanding to 85,000 seats.
Why not merge? The Cowboys can have what they need. The taxpayers get a full-use park. And Dallas turns its 277 acres into a spectacular visitor attraction, a tax-revenue source, and a great venue for its citizens.
Fair Park was dismissed early on by the Cowboys because it doesn’t accommodate all they want to do. But, according to a city planner, the Cowboys haven’t even inquired about the new design for Fair Park.
The Cowboys may be sentimental favorites of a lot of people, but that doesn’t have much pull in the voting booth. Go back to the drawing board, boys.
Make it good for Dallas as a whole, or you won’t even get a second look. If Fair Park doesn’t look good now, maybe it will look better when you realize it’s the only option we’re willing to give you.