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Ed Heath

There are a couple of different things going on here worth tossing around. We are definitely in the era of pork coming from federal, state and county government, and I would suggest we are the poorer for it. Maybe twenty years ago government used to kick in for shared public spaces like ballet or opera halls, or stadiums. Arts economists would develop elaborate models of economic multiplier effects, because your average citizen will say he bought house partly because of a sports team, rather than admit he thought his neighborhood was going “bad”. Anyway, at some point, while people discovered the suburbs are “good” and moved there, retail deserted downtown because no one wants to extend their commute or pay for parking in the evenings and weekends (and what about rent in malls versus downtown competing with corporate rent and the profit margin therein?). All of which is to say the public finance model has changed to include retail and residential space, to improve downtown. I have to say if the market supported downtown retail and residential living, it would already be there. And if it doesn’t, why are we fighting market current?

All that said, if the state is going to spend *our* taxes anyway on downtown foolishness, let’s get our share of the pie. But let’s buy more stadiums and arenas. We’ve already had too much retail space close downtown, included publicly funded space. Take a lesson and let private industry develop a business model for retail/residential that can actually stand on its own. We’ll take care of subsidizing the hockey players.

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