The latest “New Arena Story” came out today. In honor of this somewhat common and annoying occurrence I have decided to reprint an article I first published two years ago. It is as true as it ever was:
“The new arena for Baltimore story has crept back into the news again. I have been vehemently opposed to a new sports complex since this story first appeared in the mainstream media. This time they want to spend even more money and include part of the convention center in the project. While logical people are trying to save money, Baltimore leaders want to set a terrible example and waste millions of dollars they do not have on an arena we do not need. Different versions of this story have been bubbling to the surface for three years. There was the new arena to attract an NBA team story, then there was the new soccer stadium story, and now we have this $500million story. The real story is that Baltimore and many other cities in the USA are addicted to borrowing money for unprofitable downtown mega-developments that inflate the egos and pocketbooks of politicians, developers, and unelected leaders who live in the suburbs. Stadiums and arenas are projects that sooth the mindless, give suburbanites an extra reason to visit the city once a year, and allow political leaders to claim major accomplishments. Baltimore is more than just the harbor and the vast majority of Baltimore will be hurt by wasting money on an arena. How have new sports complexes helped Detroit? Let’s follow the Detroit model! Who in their right mind would want to do that?
We live in a throw away wasteful society that has yet to realize that we can not keep spending money we do not have like drunken sailors. In some countries they actually have old facilities that they maintain. I remember the airport in Buenos Aires looked like it was from the 1950’s from the outside. It worked though. Our arena may not be pretty, but it works.
This new arena issue could be a turning point for Baltimore. Are we going to stay addicted to mindless mega-projects or are we going to get creative and try to address neighborhood level blight with inexpensive solutions. This city needs responsible owner occupants to live in its decaying and vacant housing stock. The harbor area looking prettier is not the solution to getting a person to buy and live in a house in Reservoir Hill, Harlem Park, or Carrollton Ridge.”