Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Beware the Do Nothings, they’re killing Tucson

The Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVEs) augmented by the Professional Againsters, are taking over Tucson’s politics and demanding we Do Nothing whenever doing something is best.

In their world, nothing is always best.

New convention center? Don’t do it.

New convention center hotel? Don’t do it.

New museums and cultural centers downtown? The horror.

Create a sports authority and a tax to keep professional sports in town? Never.

New streetcar connecting the university to downtown? Over their dead bodies (thankfully, the streetcar ran over them on that one).

And now the CAVEs and PAs are out in force again, having been tipped by the Arizona Daily Star that the UA, the city and Rio Nuevo have had talks about a new arena and other sports facilities downtown or near downtown.

NAY! They cry. Don’t do it! Nothing is best!

Don’t’ listen to them, Tucson. We need to do something. While the rest of the state has progressed with its economic development of sports and entertainment facilities, Tucson is stuck in the 1980s and is the worse for it.

We have two empty baseball stadiums, left abandoned by Major League Baseball for glitzy new stadiums in metro Phoenix that were built by city councils with foresight and gumption and aided by a countywide sports facilities sales tax. Now that $30 million in annual visitor spending rains down on Glendale and Peoria and the Salt River Indian reservation.

Albuquerque, El Paso and Austin and several other Western cities of comparable size to Tucson with good weather have all updated, improved or expanded their convention centers in the past decade. They can now compete better in the cutthroat market of mid-size convention business, hosting trade shows and expos and the like.

Not Tucson. We’ve been beaten down by the CAVEs, left with a decrepit convention center not much better than when it was built in the 1970s (albeit with a new crooked entrance with exposed rebar).

And so while we stand around bickering, hundreds of millions of dollars in annual visitor dollars get spent in other cities.

Alas, fueling the success of the Againsters is the Rio Nuevo debacle. Nary a news story, blog post or TV news clip can go by without mentioning that Rio Nuevo spent $230 million with little to show for it and is now broke.

Credibility certainly has been lost but that doesn’t mean it can’t be earned back.

Though few want to admit it, Rio Nuevo is starting to payoff. Downtown is coming back with lots of new restaurants, apartments, stores, events and festivals. For the past year or more downtown has been the hottest real estate market in the city as developers snatch up properties to ride the whirlwind of revitalization Rio Nuevo created.

Finish the museums, get the UA students living downtown, cut the ribbon on the streetcar and you can call downtown revitalization nearly complete.

Add in a bigger, better convention center with a connected hotel and a new arena hosting the UA Wildcats and Tucson will be one of the best cities to visit in the West.

It’s time for those who want Tucson to be something to do something, to step up and beat back the dark forces of Nothingness.

Because if we do nothing, than nothing is all we’ll have.

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