East Sacramento Resident Questions Arena World-Class City Quest

What do you think of when you think of Paris? You think of The Louvre, The

Avenue des Champs-Élysées—the most famous street in the world with its

theatres, cafes, brilliantly planned gardens and fountains. You think of culture,

language, history, art, music, cuisine.

 

London. What do you think of? You think of Parliament, the astonishing British

Museum, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the Tower,

the rebuilt Globe, the British Library…you think of wondrous literature and

history commemorated everywhere in a great city.

 

These cities may be called, albeit crudely, ‘world-class’, but in neither of them

do you think first of their basketball arena. You don’t tell your cab driver, “Take

me to your stadium.”

 

In Rome you think of ancient legions of conquerors, magnificent art, the

Vatican, music, Michelangelo… a sumptuous culture alive on every street. But the

only arena you visit is the ruin of the Colosseum.

 

This is the problem with Sacramentans who think another

basketball/entertainment arena (they’re now renaming and reframing the

colossus they want the public to subsidize) will somehow invest us with world-class

status. They don’t understand what truly elevates a city. Really, it’s

embarrassing, like Donald Trump being so proud of the gigantic, “T” on his

building. It’s crass, sad, and shows a shrunken worldview.

 

World-class, according to Merriam-Webster, means “being of the highest

caliber in the world.”

 

World-class would be the MOMA in New York, Golden Gate Park in San

Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago. But don’t make me go through the

cultural hallmarks of every great city. Let’s simply recognize that sports arenas

did not catapult these places to international renown.

 

A friend recently returned from Prague. He visited the Prague Castle, opened in

870 AD, the Prague National Theatre and the Dancing House. “Did you go to

their arena?” I asked. He looked baffled. “God no. What arena? Even if they had

one, why would I go there?”

 

When friends visit we drive them through our shaded neighborhoods and they

are surprised by the trees and the winter bloom of camellias. Sacramento has

more trees than any city its size anywhere, we tell them. Also as many trees as

Paris or London. We take them to the Crocker, Sutter’s Fort, the Capitol, the Old

Sacramento State Historical Park, the Railroad Museum, the Cathedral. We eat

and drink at the great restaurants in Midtown, stroll the streets, take a drive

along the American River. We are really a fine city, and when we witness our

attractions through the eyes of visitors, our appreciation is renewed. Nobody

ever asks to see our arena.

 

So please, stop telling us that if a struggling city that can’t afford to keep its

pools and libraries open full time builds another massive arena and surrenders

parking revenue to private entities–all this to host games that cost too much

for the kids who need the pools—it will become a world-class city. By whose

reckoning? Whose standards are these? These are the decisions of a City Council

that ignores the expressed will of the people (we voted twice against another

arena) and the standards of builders who will profit. We will not profit. We will

pay.

 

Consider Detroit. It has over four ‘world-class’ arenas (all supposed to

“revitalize” their struggling neighborhoods). It also has crumbling infrastructure,

deadly and multiplying financial problems, escalating crime and gun murder,

50% unemployment, 60,000 vacant buildings, 35 thousand abandoned homes,

more people living in poverty than cars on the streets, and looks increasingly like

a place devastated by bombs or plague. Despite its ‘world-class’ arenas a

quarter of a million people have fled the city in the last decade.

 

So puleeeze, developers and others who stand to profit, don’t tell us an arena

will make us a world-class city. Don’t tell us it will bring more than a few

temporary construction jobs. Don’t patronize us. Don’t act like we’ve never been

anywhere. Don’t assume your potential profit trumps our votes. It doesn’t. Don’t

act like you know what’s good for us. You don’t. What you ought to do, in fact,

is take a few trips (not at our expense) to ‘world-class’ cities yourselves. Then

come back and open those public pools and libraries.

Pat Lynch

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5 Responses to East Sacramento Resident Questions Arena World-Class City Quest

  1. Will Green says:

    I totally agree. Ms. Lynch has expressed not only the heart-felt feelings of the majority of the taxpayers, but also logical reasons that officials should listen to. We need smart growth, not decadent arenas.

  2. Felicia Oropeza says:

    Pat your writing is superb! Fine use of pathos and logos! I love how you invoked humor at the end! Very persuasive and well done!

  3. Mike Farrace says:

    Thank you, Pat. You’ve made the best common-sense argument yet for why resources should be spent maintaining our many assets that will never threaten to leave town. Let cities without such natural wonders chase the shiny objects.

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