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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Revitalizing Dallas; Reunion Arena: Let's stop the Hypocrisy, Texas, and Look at Casino Gambling!

For years, Dallas Texas has been making a major effort to revitalize and modernize the city. The goal has been to not only bring business's large and small to downtown Dallas, but to turn it into an upscale urban living and playing area as well

Especially in the last year, despite the economy, Dallas's new Mayor, Tom Leppert has been driving this and slowly but surely it's paying dividends. Just the other day, ATT announced it was moving it's entire staff from San Antonio to Dallas

But there have been some big blunders too; especially under former Mayor Laura Miller.

The Dallas Cowboys are building a billion dollar plus new Arlington, TX. Jerry Jones wanted a lot of concessions from the city to keep the Cowboys in Dallas. But ego driven Mayor Miller wouldn't negotiate. She didn't have the vision to see ten and twenty years in the future and, combined with other improvements, the exponential value of giving Jerry enough of what he wanted to stay.

Now the former Cowboy stadium is being renovated at enormous cost for.....what, I'm not sure. I went to a job fair there a few months ago. Supposedly, College Football will make it profitable. We'll see.

Another blunder was solidified just this week with the closing of the 28 year old Reunion Arena. Former home to the Mavericks and other top attractions, Reunion was killed by another blunder. In order to motivate the developers of the American Airlines Center, which opened in 2001, Reunion Arena was actually prohibited from actively competing for events against the American Airlines Center!

This left it with a few minor events a month and, big surprise, Reunion began losing money: about $6 million dollars over the last five years.

Now officially closed, it will be stripped of anything of value and demolished. It sits on prime real estate so some private company will buy the land and use it to make a fortune. And this at a time that the City of Dallas is getting into the hotel and convention center business: owning and managing themselves!

So lets get to the third rail of Texas hypocrisy: Casino Gambling.

Texas has a Lottery six days a week, Dog and Horse tracks where you can bet money on the outcome, and we even invented Texas Hold-em! But CASINOS! THAT's crossing some invisible moral line. It's hypocrisy and worse

Just over the border in Oklahoma are the Indian Reservation Casinos. The parking lots are HUGE....and on any given day, practically all the cars have Texas License Plates! Oh, the money lost to Oklahoma! And while insane gas prices may cut down on the trips to the Indian Casinos, Internet Gambling web sites are just a few clicks away at home for the hard-core gamblers.

I lived in New Jersey, pre and post Casino Gambling. Pre-casino, Atlantic City was a run down, falling down, faded, high-crime slum. Post-casino, billions of dollars were poured into the city by private developers. The once famous Boardwalk was rebuilt. Atlantic City became a place to go again. It was reborn. Conventions came there. Families came there to lie on the beach and play in the ocean.

It brought people and businesses from all over, and with them, a lot of money for the Atlantic City economy and New Jersey.

I am not a gambler. If I go to a casino, I'll sit at the quarter progressive slots hoping to win the big jackpot. If not, (and I never have) I'll just keep playing until my $50 in quarters are gone and then go look for a buffet.

But imagine if Reunion Arena in it's prime location were turned into a Casino! Obviously Dallas would be making a huge profit instead of losing money on it, but remember the 10 and 20 year vision Laura Miller lacked.

Oil prices are not only cutting down on driving for pleasure, but flying as well. Texas is centrally located. Our convention business will boom since for many companies and organizations, we'll be the most inexpensive travel option versus Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Jobs will be created by the thousands. And not just low paying (or Dallas normal, as I call it) jobs, but Google the salaries that management positions in the hotel, convention center, and casino businesses command. Careers will be created, not just more warehouse pick and pack dead-end minimum wage jobs.

It gets back to vision. Governor Perry looks at Texas and sees highways and rail tracks to everywhere else. His vision of Texas as a logistical hub means more jobs: those same dead-end jobs I mentioned above.

His vision has the State making money hand over fist in toll roads, rail right-of-ways, warehouses, and Business Taxes. Many people, including myself, have noted the growing gap between poor and "rich" in Texas: poor defined as $16K a year and "rich" defined as $124K a year.

The upper middle class is vanishing and the middle class is shrinking. His vision of Texas is one where the State is wealthy and the people slide further and further down the economic ladder.

And lets talk about the tunnel vision of the "moral Texan". And I'm an Evangelical Christian so you can put me in that group if you like, but I believe we have free will because the LORD gave it to us. And I don't believe in legislated morality.

We turn a blind eye to the lotteries, dog and horse tracks. But Casinos? NEVER!

They will bring crime and bankrupt families and ruin marriages.

It's really the same argument rolled out when a dry town wants to go wet. Alcohol didn't ruin those towns were it was controlled. Plano and Frisco didn't fall apart because you could get a glass of wine or a cocktail with dinner at a restaurant.

The towns it did harm, like The Colony, was because they went too far. Now they're a collection of bars and liquor stores with late night drinking, crime, and drunk driving Corporate Headquarters are moving in there.

Frisco voters just overwhelmingly turned down a proposal to extend the drinking hours from midnight to 2am. And the restaurant and club owners? Most were against 2am drinking too.

In New Jersey, Casino gambling is legal in Atlantic City but that's it. The whole State didn't turn into one big gambling parlor BUT Atlantic City brought billions of dollars into New Jersey as a whole. It made New Jersey a DESTINATION POINT.

Dallas could do the same thing if it acts quickly enough. Texas is a lot bigger than New Jersey so maybe a few major cities like Houston could be included. But Casino Gambling fits right into the vision of the "New Dallas".....if controlled and regulated properly.

No slot machines at the 7-Eleven. But middle and high end Casinos, like those in Atlantic City, properly regulated and controlled.

So what about it, Mayor Leppert? Do you think you can overcome the blatant hypocrisy and remove that moral road-block? Legislating morality never works. People have to take personal responsibility for their own actions. The Government at any level was never meant to restrict personal liberty.

And think how a Dallas with it's two airports, convention centers, hotels, restaurants, and businesses would reap exponential rewards for years to come by adding regulated Casino Gambling......starting with Reunion Arena.

It's all about long-term vision. And reality; not hypocrisy.


Mr. Unloadingzone

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Mrs. Unloadingzone

Mrs. Unloadingzone
"The Girl of my Dreams"