The Tool and his Arena

Baltimore’s favorite toolbox Dan Rodricks once again pipes in with his tired argument about how important it is to build a new arena in downtown Baltimore:

As for the nattering negativists who will surely say this is a dumb idea, that it will never work, that Baltimore will never get this and never get that – well, blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard it all before. Mr. Grumpy-Gills really should treat himself to the big picture sometime. I know. It’s hard. You’ve grown accustomed to thinking weenie and being cynical. After all, that’s part of our national culture, and the condition has long been acute here in Baltimore…

…But, really, the many of you who think small, and who make a hobby of ridiculing Baltimore and taking glee at the city’s flaws, you who today think building a big, new arena on the site of our old, dumpy-but-still-bookin’-dates one is a foolish idea – you really need to get out more.

Seriously, the city has changed and is continuing to change. News flash: It’s getting better. You should swear off blog entries, power down your PCs and get out of your basements for a day. Take a walk downtown.

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Seriously, Rodricks needs to lay off the bong water and get real. Baltimore has sky high crime, with crime still at near crisis levels on a per-capita basis. Taxes are out of control. The Mayor is on the take. Schools are falling apart and failing to educate people. But Rodricks, in his infinite wisdom, thinks the most important thing to do is building a friggin’ arena.

It takes a sports columnist, Rick Maese, to bring any common sense to the pages of the Baltimore Sun on this issue:

It’s handy and it’s dandy. Easy to fold and easy to hold. When you see your favorite politician, pass it on. When you see your local sports team owner, be sure to share. Because here it is for the very first time: The definitive, dead-on, no-excuses checklist.

If your city can’t check off each of these items – ahem, pay attention, Baltimore – then maybe it should think twice before throwing public money at a sports arena or stadium.

And Maese goes on to list several common sense things that should be required to be in place before the city of Baltimore spends one penny on the construction of this new arena.

Somebody in Baltimore needs to get their priorities straight. Better schools, better roads, and safer streets are more important than a brand new sports arena. An arena is a symbol, yes it’s true. But only an idiot like Rodricks would place more importance on spending hundreds of millions on a symbol, then spending money to truly reform the city’s needed substance.

Of course, the city has other problems too, which I’ll address in my next post.


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