Why listen to an expert when you’ve got a hunch and a sketch?
That appears to be the goofy logic of four members of the Coliseum Authority.
Even after hearing a detailed presentation last week on how consultants determined a new James Brown Arena should be built near its current location downtown, the four authority members were sticking to their much more speculative decision Aug. 22 to move the arena to the site of the dormant Regency Mall.
The move would see the arena abandon a downtown that is on the cusp of a renaissance. It would put the arena further away from the bulk of ticket buyers. And it would separate the arena – by miles – from the companion Bell Auditorium, increasing both costs and headaches for their joint management contractor, Spectra.
That, in turn, would hike costs for taxpayers.
As has been pointed out here, the mall location on Gordon Highway does not have the entertainment infrastructure that comes with most downtowns – hotels, restaurants, pedestrian pathways and more. No surprise then, that more than 60 percent of arenas built around the country in the past 15 years have been in downtowns. Only 2 percent have been put in suburban areas.
Supporters of the mall site, including Mayor Hardie Davis, hope the $120 million arena would inspire growth of the above amenities along the Gordon Highway corridor. That’s highly suspect: What restaurant or hotel is going to determine its location based on an arena with only 60-100 event days a year?
Authority member Bonita Jenkins says the mall site isn’t a done deal. Thank goodness.
We would encourage her and other members to reconsider. A good start would be listening to the experts.