Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arena of Conflict

There have been several recent developments concerning the proposed arena in downtown Kalamazoo.

Rep. Robert Jones' tax amendment tailored to arena in Kalamazoo
Taxes would be proposed arena's main funding source in downtown Kalamazoo
Sizing up potential arena: Many factors play into scale of proposed downtown facility
WMU, K-Wings consider moving teams to arena proposed for downtown Kalamazoo

First, it appears that State Rep. Robert Jones, always eager to raise taxes, helped to slip through an amendment that makes it possible for Kalamazoo to tax hospitalities, which it previously wasn't.
In late 2008, the former Kalamazoo mayor fast-tracked an amendment to a 1991 state law, making Kalamazoo County the smallest Michigan population center eligible to use hotel, rental car and restaurant surcharges to finance a public arena.

According to Michigan House records, Jones' amendment was specifically tailored to "affect only the city of Kalamazoo."
Second, County leaders have admitted that "Taxes would be proposed arena's main funding source in downtown Kalamazoo". It would not make money.

Third, attendance figures for the Wings and WMU teams make it clear that such a stadium is not necessary.
Kalamazoo Wings
• Average home-game attendance in 2008-09: 3,190
• Wings Stadium capacity: 5,113 seats.
• Sold out games last season: 1

WMU hockey
• Average home-game attendance in 2008-09: 2,112
• Lawson Ice Arena capacity: 3,667 seats.
• Sold out games last season: 2

WMU men's basketball
• Average home-game attendance in 2008-09: 2,960
• University Arena capacity: 5,421 seats
• Sold out games last season: 0
Fourth, commenter turbo25mi ties together some of the players behind this proposal.

Correct me if I am wrong, cause I may not have ALL the info exactly correct but I am pretty sure that these Ken Miller and Bill Johnston guys own Keystone Bank, Greenleaf Trust, a few other expensive restaurants downtown in the Millennium Restaurant Group; owns interests in the Radisson, Sits on a board called Downtown Tomorrow Incorporated which is a real estate development and fundraising arm of Kalamazoo or something of the sorts, sits on Western Michigan Universities board as a trustee AND most recently purchased or now has financial interest and ties to Wing’s Stadium as there are now new ownerships of either the team or the stadium itself (Burdick’s, Radisson owned, is already in the current stadium) and the list goes on and on. Seems to me there are too many people with too many hands in all of this to line their own pockets with more of our money.
Check out the comments on the Gazette articles. There is a lot of sentiment against the proposed arena.

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