Easy Payments

19 thoughts on “Easy Payments”

  1. Johnny,

    Nice pictures – as always.

    There’s plenty of blame to go round here, as well as a certain inevitability to it all.

    The least blameworthy participant in this saga has got to be Bass Pro Shops. They saw an opportunity and made the City of Memphis an offer: give us $35 million and we’ll move in to your abandoned pyramid. The city was free to reject the offer, of course, but accepted anyway, doubtless realizing it was unlikely there would be any other takers for an abandoned building with tens of millions in sunk costs.

    More blameworthy is the City of Memphis: why did they build the pyramid in the first place? Studies have repeatedly shown that subsidized sports stadia do not generate the benefits their boosters claim, so why do cities persevere with them? Answering my own question, there’s an inevitability to it. Politicians have to win elections and, to do that, they have to be seen to be doing something, anything, especially if the local economy is in the doldrums. And a taxpayer-subsidized sports stadium is something, as well as an idea that’s easy to sell to the general public. And, as you pointed out, its construction benefits politically-connected interests.

    What needs to be done to generate real wealth and prosperity is deregulation. Allow people to open business and build as they like – within fairly broad limits. Bring the America of Norman Rockwell into the present day. But that’s s tough sell to voters. And, as you have repeatedly pointed out elsewhere in your blog, it simply isn’t going to happen. The system – safety regulations, zoning and financing, to name but three – simply won’t allow it and that is not going to change in the foreseeable future. So we’re back to subsidized projects of one kind or another.

  2. Same kind of thing is bubbling on the back burner in Portland, OR. Some ‘big money’ guys want to build a MLB stadium somewhere near the CBD (unfathomable existing traffic congestion be damned) in a burg that doesn’t really enjoy baseball ’cause everyone is out hiking in the woods or are at the beach during the regular season, which is why PDX is a basketball town since it rains pretty much of the time while the Blazers are on the court.
    Similarly, but on a much smaller scale, the city fathers of Medford, here in the ‘State of Jefferson’, were heavily promoting a monster water park in the municipality so as to pull people off the I-5 and induce them to spend $$$. The proposal went on the ballot and was soundly defeated. To which the CF’s responded, “…but we need a new swimming pool!”

  3. Government engaging in real estate dealings ends in loss of tax dollars or total failure.It often includes these terms: annexation,eminent domain,revitalization and “for the greater good”.

  4. I wonder if politicians favor sports- and tourism-related projects because they are “clean” and “fun.” No smokestacks, no toxic waste, the participants are are either bringing in out-of-town dollars or are locals who enjoy bread and circuses. My nearest urban area (Oklahoma City) lobbied for years to get a pro basketball team, and the Thunder is hugely popular. Many in my town (70 miles away) routinely go to games.

  5. Such desolate looking surrounds.
    Not tempted to take the tallest freestanding elevator in North America and take a few photos from the cantilevered, glass-floored observation platform ?
    The 103 room hotel lining the inside of the pyramid walls with no views to the outside seems a bit odd too.

    1. Yes, the desolate surroundings struck me, too. But where are the hotel rooms? In the one picture showing the entirety of the pyramid’s insides I see no hotel rooms, just some kind of cladding.

        1. Somebody from Memphis must’ve spent a great weekend at the Luxor in Vegas and said “Memphis needs a hotel like that!”

          Probably seemed a lot cooler when the rooms looked out over a basketball arena.

  6. Wow. This is such a great post; there are so many angles to consider.

    Regarding the use of “incentives”: the competition among state and local governments is a prisoner’s dilemma: the governments would be better if none of them offered “incentives” for businesses to relocate, but they can’t take the chance that some other government entity offers a sweet deal.

    Regarding the “easy payments”: that’s the solution to everything in America. If you can’t afford it, just stretch the payments further. Of course, you’re under water for the life of the loan (I couldn’t help the pun), but, hey, at least you’re able to “afford” it.

  7. The Pyramid could be described in the same satirical way as the boat in front of it. Boat, A hole in the water that you throw money into.
    It’s great as long as we don’t have Socialism!

  8. I have no civil response to such thievery. Your very thorough presentation of the facts should elicit mass outrage. There are many that will denigh the existence of that appendage which keeps your glasses from sliding down to your chin.

    1. The only people they’re thieving from are in the future, and the future doesn’t vote. In the meantime, the future’s money has employed a whole bunch of people right here and now!

      1. Yep. The problem with kicking the can down the road is that eventually you run out of road. We’ve been doing this for a long time already. I suspect the way this problem ultimately gets resolved is for money – the currency itself – to be destroyed. Then we get a clean slate and can start over again. But that’s a messy process…

  9. I voted to no longer publicly fund the Astrodome, which would have resulted in it being demolished. My vote didn’t win.

  10. Politicians should be regulators and not be players. Especially when the money they’re playing with doesn’t belong to them. There should be a higher degree of personal accountability for this kind of behavior. Like; when you’re running for office, all your assets will be turned into bonds of the entity you want to lead (city, state, federal government,…). You can sell these bonds only five years after you’ve left office.

  11. Gives new meaning to the term “Pyramid scheme”. But it’s okay, I guess, since this one is government run? SMH.

    Just across a narrow river channel is Mud Island, which was largely developed in the 1980s, with the south half including a tourist feature, the Mississippi River Museum and an outdoor model of the river. It was a fun place to take kids because they could run and splash.

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