Monday, April 25, 2005

A Dome for No Reason

My mama once told me that if you try to be all things to all people, you will never be anything special to anyone. I am reminded of this every time I hear the City’s new tag line “A Dome for All Reasons.” Really? Name them. Yeah, that’s just what I thought.

The Alamo Dome, also known as the “’Dillo Dome” to some local residents for its resemblance to inverted road kill on IH 35, is worse than useless, it’s an expensive attractive nuisance.

WAKE UP football fans. We are never going to get an NFL football team in San Antonio. NEVER-EVER-EVER!!! It does not matter if we are the eighth, or tenth, or whatever largest city in the country. San Antonio is the fortieth largest media market, and that is all you need to know folks. It spells our doom. It wouldn’t matter if you moved the Coliseum in Rome to San Antonio and reinstalled it brick by brick. If nobody’s watching on television, then it is a permanent negative cash flow proposition. The NFL does not do negative cash flow. Nor are they going to be satisfied with our road kill on IH 35. The first thing an NFL franchise would do, if they lost their collective minds and came to town, would be to demand to tear down the “Dillo Dome” and start from scratch on a new $500,000,000 fiasco at tax payer’s expense. If you don’t believe it, just ask Red why he sold the Vikings.

Think about it. Did you ever wonder why it seems the entire country is rooting against the Spurs every time they are in the playoffs? It is simple really. If the Lakers win the championship Sports Illustrated will sell millions of its hardbound championship editions. The same is true if the Bulls or the Knicks win. If San Antonio wins, Sports Illustrated sells maybe a dozen copies. Now if you’re a Time/Life stockholder, for whom are you rooting? The same math applies to television sports broadcasters as well. It applies to small businessmen and giant retailers who sell jerseys to fans. It applies to footwear companies like Nike and Reebok. If a San Antonio team wins anything, it literally sends a negative shockwave through the entire nation’s economy. And you thought they just didn’t like us.

Soccer is no magic bullet either. Its economics are marginal at best in the largest media markets, let alone in the Alamo City. Spending $22,000,000 on ‘Dillo improvements isn’t going to change the irrefutable economic realities that being the fortieth largest media market implies.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news San Antonio, but professional sports is not going to be the magic potion that restores our collective self-esteem. It and the accompanying illusion of prosperity it is supposed to bring might however be our financial ruin. As long as the Alamo Dome exists it costs money and it presents bait for hustlers. It is an irresistible attraction for those who would loot the public coffers to fill their own pockets, while showing us a shiny piece of glass and telling us it’s the Hope diamond.

I agree with Mike Greenberg at the Express News on this one. Tear down the Dome and put up a grocery store or affordable housing or something else useful that isn’t an attractive nuisance to the City. Preferably something that doesn’t present the constant temptation to sell the citizens on the illusion of prosperity if they only provide yet more of their hard earned tax dollars to millionaires from abroad.

According to Hardberger, "We've got too much money in it to bulldoze it. But it's losing money, and that's a bad situation to be in..." Yeah, I had a business like that once. I kept pouring good money after bad into it until I lost my life savings. What a drag.

If you’re a sports fan, that’s great. Buy a 50” High Deff Flat screen TV with surround sound instead. It’s cheaper and I won’t have to pay for it.


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