(Submitted to the Rocky Mountain News, October 5, 1998.)
I am writing to address three popular justifications for a sales tax extension to build a new stadium for the Broncos.
1) The Broncos will leave Denver if we do not build them a new stadium. The Broncos will never have the loyalty or popularity in any other town that they have in Denver. It will be much less risky for Pat Bowlen to find alternative and non-coercive revenue sources for a new stadium in Denver than it would be to start from scratch in a town with no history of Bronco loyalty. There are many instances of stadium tax initiatives being defeated, and of the team staying in town and seeking funding alternatives. Pittsburgh and Minnesota are cases in point.
2) It will only cost the average citizen $12 per year. To paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, $12 here and $12 there, and soon you are talking big money. Innumerable organizations take 12 of my tax dollars per year for no good reason. These far outnumber the military, the police, and other legitimate government entities. The average American pays 50 percent of his income in taxes. Capitalist America, the so-called land of the free, is as heavily taxed as many countries which we deride as socialist.
3) The Broncos contribute greatly to the prosperity of the Denver area. If this is so, why is the area around Mile High Stadium not the most prosperous in Denver? Ah, you say: look how the Rockies have contributed to the revitalization of LoDo. Well, LoDo is but a tiny fragment of the Front Range. Dollars spent along Blake Street and in Larimer Square would be spent elsewhere were the Rockies not here. My word: how does Denver avoid turning into another Calcutta on the 284 days a year when the Rockies are not playing at Coors Field? Well, people do other things with their time and money on those days. Florida and Arizona were wonderfully prosperous before they became major pro sports havens. In the 1970s, during the glory days of the Pirates and Steelers, Pittsburgh was in abysmal economic shape.
I was extremely happy, for several reasons, to see the Broncos win the Super Bowl. That evening, I drove from Ken Caryl to Aurora honking my horn furiously along with thousands of other drivers to celebrate this victory. I wish I could have attended the victory rally downtown two days later.
This rightful exuberance must not overrule common sense. Metro Denver voters must defeat this welfare-for-millionaires stadium tax proposal on November 3.
Douglas F. Newman
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