Tuesday, August 25, 2009

20,000 Seats? Bwahahahahahah!

A couple of days ago, the Argus had another editorial lecturing our legislators that they really need to change the sales tax laws so that our fine city could go ahead and start building the Sanford…I mean Event Center.

Fine, I’m used to that. They’ve been pushing it for years, so it’s no surprise that for the 250th time they’re out there telling us how we should think. But I’m confused - in the second sentence in the editorial they list as one of the many debates is the question of whether it should be 20,000 or 12,000 seats.

20,000 seats??? When did this come into play? I get the idea of a 10,000 or 12,000 seat venue. That’s somewhat reasonable, but anything above that is ridiculous. It seems like the general consensus of the rich bastards of our town is to demand a 18,000 seat venue but “settle” for 15,000. Pure bollocks. I say.

But 20,000? Please, fine folks at the Argus, share with me whatever it is you’re smoking or injecting.

Yes, I know I’ve been outspoken against this costly project from the very beginning, but I’ll concede if the planning, funding, and construction is done reasonably. All I really want is the answers to two questions:

1. When did I miss the move from studying to demanding? Wasn’t the Event Center Task Force put together to gather information to present to the city as a recommendation? When did we skip the “recommend” step and go right to “how do we get this thing done”?

I said from the very beginning that the fix was in, but I never thought it would be this blatant. I’ve seen episodes of Monday Night Raw that wasn’t so scripted. Head Wal-Mart greeter Munson clearly gathered his pals and gave them the end game he desired, and they certainly followed his lead. The fact that a real consultant disagreed with their so-called findings is definitive proof that they’re not really doing their job when it comes to truly researching the need for such a facility.

2. If they decide on anything above 12,000, I’d like to know who exactly is going to use it? What events could possibly need that many seats?

Obviously, none of our sports teams need more seats. Yes, they’d love better facilities, but who doesn’t? Nothing against any of these franchises, but we must keep in mind that they are minor league teams…some with serious financial problems that I really hope are cleared up.

As for concerts, you’re really dreaming if you think anybody who could sell that many seats will ever come to town. In a few years, there won’t be any artists that can do that well even in the biggest cities as the music industry is rapidly imploding. The move in the last decade away from long term artist development into “get rich quick” celebrity pop stars is not working. As the veteran acts (literally) die away, there are very few younger acts to replace them.

The future of music lies in the smaller venues, gathering the niches of every genre. This is why instead of building an unused monstrosity, we need to make better use of the venues we already have. Pressure those at the Pavillion to book outside of the MOR mode that plagues that building. Acknowledge and cultivate the role of establishments such as Nutty’s for rock, rap, and indie rock. Let’s turn an empty warehouse or two into facilities for live music. The future is not monster U2 or G&R stadium spectacles; the future is a sweaty room with 1000 like-minded friends, and I’ll believe that until somebody on the task force can convince me otherwise.