Favorite

NLR's field of dreams 

The conceptual drawings for a new minor league baseball park in North Little Rock are exciting. An up-to-date park with a city skyline as a backdrop would be a magnificent addition to the city. It would be more exciting still if new residential and commercial development took hold in the neighborhood. The fact that North Little Rock will vote in August on a sales tax to pay for this stadium illustrates the city’s superior form of government. The mayor-council government gives equal voice to residents in every ward and offers a huge opportunity for a politically adept mayor with big ideas. That’s Pat Hays, who has accumulated significant power and goodwill during a long tenure. We’re glad we live in Little Rock at this moment, however. While we favor the downtown of either city for the ballpark, we buy most of our groceries and hamburgers in Little Rock. The tax on those commodities is already high enough. You knew it would come to this. There was talk of stealing school tax money through a Tax Increment Finance District to pay for the stadium. But there’s no solid prospect of private development to throw off the needed tax revenue. There will be naming rights and skyboxes, but everyone knows these things produce a relative pittance toward construction costs. No, it had to be a sales tax increase. Another penny for two years. Two years of a 9-cent tax on groceries, a 12-cent tax on burgers and a 33-cent tax on a dollar shot of Cuervo at happy hour. What’s missing is the private sector, as usual, save Warren Stephens’ land donation. Taxpayers bought the land for the Clinton Library. Tax money paid most of the cost of the River Market. Alltel Arena, ditto. Here we go again. In cities across the country, new minor league ballparks have been financed repeatedly by financial interests, such as Auto Zone in Memphis and Procter and Gamble in Jackson, Tenn. Private contributions are not always for marketing purposes. Sometimes they have no benefit at all for the giver, such as the expected increase in the value of Stephens land surrounding the baseball stadium. In Chattanooga, wealthy families picked up most of the tab of a stunning riverfront redevelopment as a pure philanthropic gesture. We continue to wish for more of that here. Be careful about swallowing Mayor Hays’ belief that the stadium will trigger an economic renaissance. Alltel Arena, which has maybe double the events and three times the attendance the ballpark expects in a year, barely breaks even on operating expenses. And look around Alltel. Do you see any new construction after almost six years? As it happens, the greatest Alltel beneficiaries might be the bars and restaurants across the river in the River Market neighborhood, packed before and after many big arena events. Their patrons will be free riders on the stadium tax. No politician ever wants to talk about the specific benefits of a sales tax increase because they’re impossible to prove. But it’s a question worth asking before the August vote. On aesthetics alone, I’d vote for this project if I lived in North Little Rock. But the unfairness of the sales tax and the disproportionate burden it places on people least able to afford a night at the ball park are hard to ignore. Given the Alltel example down the street, maybe the mayor should stick with aesthetics.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Arkansas voter information for sale on 'dark web'

    Any worry about Kris Kobach's misuse of Arkansas voter information sent to his "election integrity" commission yesterday by Secretary of State Mark Martin is to some degree irrelevant. The data is already for sale cheap, on the "dark web," Mother Jones reports.
    • Jul 28, 2017
  • Recommendations made for sale of Woodruff and Franklin schools

    Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore released Thursday his recommendations for sale of the closed Franklin and Woodruff schools to a health clinic and apartment development, respectively.
    • Jul 28, 2017
  • LR's 35th homicide at apartments on Col. Glenn

    A 31-year-old man was fatally shot Thursday night at the Big Country Chateau Apartments on Col. Glenn Avenue just west of University Avenue. It was the city's 35th homicide of 2017.
    • Jul 28, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.
    • Jul 27, 2017
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Buyer remorse

    • IBS, you're from Chicago, right? Hillary's from Chicago. Your monomania against Hillary is puzzling and…

    • on July 27, 2017
  • Re: Buyer remorse

    • When we had not one but TWO shit candidates running for president, is it really…

    • on July 27, 2017
  • Re: Buyer remorse

    • So Gene Lyons says all people who voted for Trump fall into just two categories…

    • on July 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation