Tabled until spring

by YES! Staff

Greensboro’s proposed downtown performing arts center is a juggernaut that will not be stopped — not by possible financial shortfalls, not by questions as to whether this is indeed a good investment for the city and certainly not by citizen pushback on this initiative that has as little to do with the city as a whole as the Greensboro Aquatic Center, another fast-tracked, big-ticket item that was a foregone conclusion from the minute it was conceived.

Last week the city council moved to postpone a vote for a bond referendum that would represent the city’s share of the money pot — not to Election Day on Nov. 6, but a special election in April or May.

The move was widely hailed as a good decision by those who support the arena. And why shouldn’t it? A special vote all but guarantees that the vote will pass.

Think about it: It’s hard enough to get people to come out and vote on the one day we set aside all year for elections. Special elections, as a rule, generally draw only those interested in sup-porting the cause. Plant it on a beautiful spring day, and surely it will bear fruit. And never mind that the special election should cost in the neighborhood of $200,000.

Greensboro’s proposed downtown performing arts center is a juggernaut that will not be stopped

Projects like this are wonderful things, of course. A first-class performing arts center in Greensboro would attract all sorts of big-name entertainment — at least, we would get the acts that the Durham DPAC passed on — which would enhance the reputation of the city. Show nights would undoubtedly bring more action and commerce to downtown.

And because it is a major construction project with the weight of government behind it, there are lots of lucrative contracts to be handed out.

We’re talking about $60 million here, which spreads around pretty nicely among the developers and builders who fund the lion’s share of our city’s political campaigns.

When there’s money like this in play — at least half of which will come from public monies — there are those who will not rest until it has been safely redistributed.

If we’re going to pick a horse in this race, we guess we’ll go with former Mayor Keith Holliday’s proposal to put the thing over by the Carolina Theatre. Greene Street often gets neglected in favor of Elm, and putting the place on the fringes of an existing performance neighborhood seems intuitive — the Carolina Theatre is one of downtown’s historic gems, and it could use a little love.

But we’re still not convinced this is the right thing to do. So a special election it is. And rest assured that the pro-PAC forces will have their numbers out. Any pushback will have to be mighty to slow this one down.

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