Jan. 25, 2012 10:19

Wanting it all

The relationship between the city and its arts-and-entertainment complex is a complicated one. The city — and by proxy, the taxpayers — own the coliseum, no question about that. In return for a portion of our money, about $1.6 million at last count, the coliseum acts as an economic engine, booking acts, events and tournaments that bring people, and their wallets, to town, where they rent rooms, eat meals and buy souvenirs. The return on our investment is the piece the city gets, through increased tax revenue from this spending, and also our local restaurants, hotels and bars get a piece.

It’s a cozy little arrangement, as long as the coliseum keeps up its end of the deal by putting asses in the seats and the city keeps subsidizing the venues.

Brown seems to be acting like a favored child, who wants everything at the expense of his siblings, and we are here to tell him to share his toys.

We’ve been taking pretty good care of our little economic driver of late, diverting funds from a parks and rec bond to the coliseum for a swim center, giving post-facto consent to an amphitheater that Coliseum Director Matt Brown began constructing in October 2009 without informing the Greensboro City Council. There’s a new ACC Hall of Champions that some felt would have better served the city had it been built downtown. And the coliseum will control the land where the old Canada Dry building once stood, bought by the city as another gift from a benevolent and indulgent patron.

Things, we daresay, are looking right spiffy over there on High Point Road, which is fine by us. We’ve long since come around to the coliseum’s role in our overall economic picture. But the delicate balance that such an arrangement requires, we fear, is tilting out of whack.

After what may be the coliseum’s best year, in terms of growth and acquisitions, since its construction in 1959, Brown has now asked for another $60 million for capital improvements and a new performing arts center to replace War Memorial Auditorium, which admittedly is in sorry shape. Brown wants the items to be placed on the ballot in a bond referendum to let the people decide.

It’s important to remember that, though Brown is the city’s highestpaid employee — by quite a bit last year, at $212,332 making more than $30,000 more than former City Manager Rashad Young and almost $75,000 more than police Chief Ken Miller — the coliseum is not as central to the city’s well being as its internal operations and police department, which could survive without the coliseum but without which the coliseum could not make it.

Brown seems to be acting like a favored child, who wants everything at the expense of his siblings, and we are here to tell him to share his toys.

The new arts-and-entertainment complex belongs downtown, perhaps in Ole Asheboro, a neighborhood in dire need of economic stimulus — that’s half of the $60 million right there. Let downtown have the facility, if indeed there is a need for such a thing, and let Brown concentrate on the castles that already exist in his kingdom.

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