Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eagles And Guinea Pigs

HARBESON: This little piggy went to the arena

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — When my husband asked if I wanted to go with a group of friends to see The Eagles, I wasn’t sure what to say. I’ve done my share of listening to classic rock radio stations, so I questioned the wisdom of spending our entertainment budget to hear “Hotel California” for the 1 billionth time.

I was also concerned because this is the first official event at the KFC YUM! Center which means I would be one of the guinea pigs to help work out the kinks in traffic and parking.

Did I really want to be a part of what is likely to be a painful experiment? When he suggested that being a parking/traffic guinea pig might be a good way to collect column material, I had to agree, so I’m going.

I don’t know whether we’ll use what’s offered in Southern Indiana but it does makes sense for local businesses to try and piggy-back off of arena activity and take advantage of potential parking issues. What doesn’t make so much sense is why government gets so involved.

Jeffersonville’s government is already working on a deal with Louisville to use the government owned and operated Spirit of Jefferson tour boat. The idea is that people will spend money over here and then ferry to the event. It’s not a sure thing that the ferry is good for business. People might just ride the ferry. And even if they do partake of restaurant row, the cars would be parked for hours afterwards so what effect will that have on total sales if it keeps other customers away? And what if entrepreneurs with private boats want to take folks across? Would the government prohibit them from doing so?

Clarksville’s government thought about getting in on the action with shuttles. Rick Dickman, the town’s redevelopment director wanted to close off the bridge so only shuttles and buses could cross during events but he didn’t get his way. Clarksville needed such special treatment if any plan of theirs was going to work because their business hotspots are located farther from the river.

Dickman expressed irritation with Louisville for not including Southern Indiana in the plans. He said “I don’t think they’ve thought about Southern Indiana at all.”

There’s a very important reason for this though: tax revenue.

See, Louisville has little incentive to keep people in Southern Indiana to spend money because one of the ways they are paying off the huge debt is by using sales tax revenue in a designated area. They are already behind because projections at this point were far too optimistic.

As a matter of fact, there is enough concern that Standard and Poor’s warned Louisville that they may downgrade arena bonds to “junk” status if the situation doesn’t change.

Louisville residents will pay more if sales taxes don’t hold up because the Metro government would have to cover costs. So Louisville needs as many of us as possible to spend our money inside their special tax boundaries. I’d say the main reason they are cooperating with Jeffersonville’s government for the boat is because sales tax can apply to ferry rides.

Many Louisville residents are not happy to learn that the arena authority said costs would be covered and now the method of payment may not work out like they said it would. The same thing happens over here of course, the most recent example being Jeffersonville’s recent trolley purchase.

I don’t know what my group will end up doing as far as parking is concerned. I just hope traffic moves so smoothly that I feel like I’m on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson’s mind is Tiffany-twisted and she got the Mercedes Bends, but she can still read your mail so write her.

Photo courtesy of Steve Alexander through Wikimedia

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