Please Stop the Arena Propoganda!

I shouldn’t have been surprised that the headline story in today’s Argus was another call for a new arena. Timed perfectly with tonight’s controversial sold-out Elton John concert, the paper has a poll that claims that over half of our city believes we need such a facility.
At least the poll also shows that downtown is the least popular location for such a building. What bothers me, however, is the list of opinion-makers in the Sioux Empire section does not include one opposing viewpoint. Hey, I’m always available and it’s not like they don’t know that.
I still believe that the fact that Elton John is here tonight is part of some plan to force an arena down our throats. The very day this show was signed we’ve heard nothing from the Argus and KELO how this show “proves” the need. Even the Argus story that dispelled the various rumors surrounding the quick sellout failed to address the most valid reason – that a person or organization that has plenty to gain was allowed to make an early purchase to ensure a headline-grabbing quick sellout.
Even if there was no monkey business surrounding ticket sales, there is still no real proof that a new building is needed. Our city is famous for not supporting live music, from the club scene to the Arena, unless it’s free. Acts that sell out across the country struggle to find patrons here.
But is this surprising? City leaders like to point to cities such as Omaha and Minneapolis. For those cities to sell out, though, only an extremely small fraction of the city has to purchase tickets. Less than 1% of the Twin Cities needs to show up at a concert at the Target Center or Xcel Building…and only slightly more for Omaha’s Qwest Center. Do the people who believe we need a 20,000 seat facility in this town realize that over 10% of our city would have to attend to create a sellout? It’s not going to happen. (Sioux City is certainly starting to learn this simple fact.)
The music business is going through many changes these days, and despite the rhetoric it’s not due to downloading. There are no longer acts that are popular across the board – no Elvis, Beatles, or Led Zeppelin. Nor are there albums that cross genres and sell to people outside their demographic. In the mid-80’s, Prince, Springsteen, and Michael Jackson had fans across all demographics, but that never happens these days. An artist has their niche, but rarely do their sales cross into other genres.
Even the few remaining acts that do have crossover appeal are unlikely to come here no matter what we build. Gone are the days when artists spent the year traveling around the country. A typical arena tour these days is a two month trek through the country’s biggest cities. Minneapolis is even left out of many of the largest tours. When the inevitable Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin reunions do take place in the next couple of years, they’ll stick to cities like New York, Chicago, and L.A.
I think we’d be lucky for promoters to even consider booking major tours here. Yes, there’d be a flurry of activity once the building was completed, but it would only take one disappointing turnout for them to wipe our city’s name out of their date planner.
If it does have to be built, though, it simply can’t be downtown. One person quoted in the paper related her experience of attempting to leave the demolition of the Zip Feed building. We’re talking about an event that drew a few hundred people, and traffic was deadlocked for a good hour after the hilarity was over. I can’t wait to see them attempt to move out thousands of vehicles.
De Knudson and her ilk respond to this by pointing to Omaha and other cities. Apples and oranges, my dear. Yes, the Qwest Center is in downtown Omaha, but it’s not only surrounded by major streets, the freeway is just a couple of blocks away. Our downtown consists of almost nothing but slow-moving two lane streets that barely can handle the current traffic flow.
All of this criticism doesn’t even take into account the simple fact that our idiotic Mayor and his pals have spent money as if they’re the ones in charge of printing the bills. We’re close to moving into a financial crisis. The Argus has already reported on the upcoming problems we’re going to face in dealing with city employee benefits. One City Commissioner recently admitted to me that at some point we’re going to have major roadwork done on the streets surrounding Sanford Health to accommodate they’re ever-increasing traffic, as will the roads that surround Augie’s new stadium.
Sure, I would love to not have to travel to Minneapolis or Omaha to see Springsteen. But that is one of the negative aspects of living in a smaller city, and simply building a new facility will not increase the likelihood of more shows coming to our city…despite the propaganda our media loves to shove down our throats.


Anonymous said…
come on hudson, if munson said that he was going to build a 50,000 seat event center in the middle of the big sioux river, with a one lane gravel road leading to the handy man store, and the replacments would play there every week, you'd love it!

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