A part of

Issue # 10 Thursday, Jan. 8, 1998

About the Author:

Charles Loyd McIntosh

In 1997 Charles Loyd McIntosh was a news writer for the Talledega Daily Home (www.dailyhome.com). He was a former reporter for The Western Star in Bessemer (a small city west of Birmingham), Alabama, and a former Sports Editor for the Clanton Advertiser. At the time he was writing for the Sideroad, Loyd was pursuing a Masters in English degree at the University of Montevallo, Alabama. An avid sports fan, soccer is Loyd's sport of choice, one he has been known to coach in the recent past.





"In many cases a new publicly funded stadium can be built and maintained in cities where many schools still have no text books, no central heating and metal detectors at the front doors."






"They didn't look at any of the outlying towns with acres of undeveloped land and a wealthier tax base, but decided they would hoist the tax burden on the poorest citizens in the county and maybe the state."



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Football or Public Education?



"People don't want art, they want football" - Ulrich Ruckriem, German sculptor

Continuing our discussion from last week on the scam artists known as sports team owners, we were talking about how the promise of high level professional sports can effectively cause a city or state to put everything on hold to get that domed stadium and Deion Sanders. I think it should come as no surprise that many cities (in America anyway) that have professional sports franchises typically have horrible public school systems and high crime rates.

Some examples:

  • Atlanta, the most dangerous city in America in 1996 and home of the Olympic Park bombing
  • Washington DC, bordering on bankruptcy, unable to put roofs on badly dilapidated schools and a convicted drug user in the mayor's office
  • Detroit, MI, for years one of the most dangerous cities in America

Add to that Miami, Los Angeles and New York's struggle with drugs, gang violence and organized crime on a daily basis. . . the list could go on and on.

In many cases a new publicly funded stadium can be built and maintained in cities where many schools still have no text books, no central heating and metal detectors at the front doors. This is one of those dirty little national secrets that seems to slip by us every day. And professional sports leagues continue to expand, dumping new teams in cities growing at a much too rapid rate while owners move their teams to cities willing to shell out millions of dollars for the privilege of going into debt.

The city where I live, Birmingham, Alabama, is beginning to suffer from this metropolitan envy syndrome. The city conducted a study recently to determine where the best location would be for a domed stadium. Birmingham wants to go ahead and build a domed stadium, then try and lure a team to the city. "If you build it, they will come."

What they found was that downtown Birmingham would be the best place, even though residents and businesses have been flocking out of downtown by the dozens over the past 15 years. They didn't look at any of the outlying towns with acres of undeveloped land and a wealthier tax base, but decided they would hoist the tax burden on the poorest citizens in the county and maybe the state.

It should come as no surprise the mayor of Birmingham, Richard Arrington, was a major player in this study, probably because he stands to make a killing if this thing goes through. No wonder downtown Birmingham was the best place for a domed stadium. It's also puzzling why a city that has temperatures no colder that 40 degrees Fahrenheit during most of the winter period should want an indoor stadium.

What is most interesting, however, is The Birmingham News conducted a poll back in November soon after this study was conducted. They asked a random sample of Birminghamians what types of projects they would be in favor of funding in the area. There were 13 items on the list, only four or five received a majority approval. Some of these items were more and better lighted parking downtown, museums and more cultural events. A domed stadium finished 12th.

I hope the civic leaders in Birmingham were paying attention.





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Text copyright Charles Loyd MacIntosh, 1997 - '98. Part of the original Sideroad ezine.
The new Sideroad - Your Road to Expert Advice - is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.