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Counterpoints: Some answers to arena questions

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: March 2, 2008

lsa is building a first-class arena. Oklahoma City needs to remain competitive with its own arena as it vies for concerts and major sporting events such as Big 12 and NCAA basketball tournaments. As for street repair, citizens passed a major bond issue three months ago to address infrastructure needs.

•The poor are hardest hit by sales taxes. Oklahoma's taxation system, unfortunately, limits cities to the sales tax almost exclusively for revenues. Changing the taxation system is the answer to the problem of overreliance on sales taxes.

•The city is big enough. We don't need to be a major league city and have the traffic problems that cities like Dallas and Houston do. If you're not going forward, you're going backward. Standing pat isn't an option. Our city must pursue growth strategies that benefit the entire community through higher earnings. Major league sports franchises attract the people who bring jobs to a city. Those jobs benefit the whole economy. Remodeling the Ford Center won't turn Oklahoma City into Dallas. But it will give us an edge on cities such as Tulsa, Wichita, Little Rock and others.

•Why spend $120 million to accommodate a team that will play only 40 or so games each year? Upgrades to the Ford Center wouldn't be solely for the benefit of an NBA team. The arena will be available year-round for events of all kinds, appealing to all groups of people. The offering of things to do in this city since MAPS led to the arena construction is dramatically different than it was before the Ford Center. An upgraded Ford Center could make a similar difference.

•The arena is a freebie for an NBA team's owners. Wrong. If an NBA team is placed in Oklahoma City, the team would pay to lease the practice gym and arena office space.

•Citizens shouldn't subsidize private business. In an ideal world, that might be true. In a competitive world, it's not practical. We subsidize private business with tax incentives such as the Quality Jobs Program. We seek to lure movie production companies to the state through incentives. We attempt to match subsidies offered by other states in order to reap the benefits of economic expansion. Public participation in projects related to sports franchises is common because citizens recognize the value of these franchises to increase jobs, boost tax revenues and increase the visibility of the city on the world stage.

A yes vote Tuesday is a vote for continued progress for Oklahoma City, which has come a long way in a relatively short time. Let's not stop now.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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