I hope anyone interested in the Lincoln Arena discussion heard our interview today on the show with Lynn Darling. She’s the closest thing there is right now to the face of organized opposition to the City’s arena proposal, and she’s trying to start a grassroots group to promote an alternative arena vision. Now, to be clear, she thinks the city could use an arena, but she’s of the belief that the city is ramrodding their proposal and location through without giving it enough thought and public input. Apparently she didn’t think the months of studies done by the arena task force were adequate to pinpoint the most advantageous spot, and as she told me on the air, she’s not really a fan of ‘experts’ and their opinions, particularly the ones that were offered indicating the West Haymarket was the best place to put in a new arena. Anyway, if you want to hear the interview, it’s here. We had a few callers say they thought we were too hard on her, and another emailer who complimented us on our class during the interview, so listen to decide for yourself.
Also, Deena Winter is continuing her streak of finding irrelevant, obscure or misleading ways to stir up opposition to the arena with her column. Clearly, she’s decided that the only arena news she’s interested in is the stuff that’s negative and implies that the city is misleading the citizens. Her column this morning went after Dan Marvin, who has been saying that the citizens of Lincoln will only foot the bill for 20% of the arena project. She points out correctly (as has Dan, every time I’ve heard him speak on this) that in that calculation he includes private income from both the Breslow Ice Center and other private development in the area. If you take that out of the equation, Lincolnites are paying (in occupation taxes) just under 30%, rather than 20%, according to Deena’s calculations.
Here’s the thing, though. The number we care about isn’t the percentage of a project (whose parameters are arguable) for which we’re on the hook. Instead, I would argue most Lincolnites care about the total dollar amount they’ll pay, whether it’s 20% of the entire West Haymarket redevelopment project, 29% of the arena, or some other percentage of a different conception of the scope of this proposal. That number hasn’t changed. It’s the amount that will be bonded, which reports indicate will be about $24 Million.
To make it easier to understand–let’s say John Bishop, Dane Ross, Coby Mach and I decided to take a road trip to Dallas for the Big XII Championship game and we decided to divide the items for which each person would pay, not necessarily in an equitable way, given our different financial positions, but just to be sure expenses were covered. Let’s say John agreed to pay for tickets, Dane for our lodging, Coby for food & drink and I’d pay the expense to rent a van to make the trip, which cost $200.
Assume John then ran some numbers and let me know that it turned out I was paying for 20% of the trips’ total cost. Then Coby, always the fact-checker, dug into John’s numbers and realized that John had counted in the total cost of the trip the value of the leftover beer from Coby’s fridge that he was bringing along, which increased the that cost figure, even though it technically wasn’t an out-of-pocket expense. The two agreed to disagree about whether the beer should properly be counted in the total trip cost. In any case, let’s say I find out that although I’m still paying $200 for the trip, if we don’t classify the beer as a ‘cost of the trip’, my share is now 29% of the total cost of the trip rather than 20%. Either way, I’m still paying $200 and that hasn’t changed at all.
I’m pretty sure that $200 figure would be a significantly more important number to anyone in my position than would be whether that accounts for 20% or 29% of the trip’s cost, depending on what you count as ‘part of the trip’. Further, I’m not mad becasue it was never a secret that John was counting the beer in the trip, as he mentioned it every time we got together. Now, I recognize it would be different if we had all agreed in advance to share an equal portion of the trip, but that’s not part of the story, nor is that the case with the arena’s financing.
The takeaway is this: I wish I was going to the Big XII Championship game.