On Saturday morning I was driving about town and by reflex, flipped the tuner over to Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket. I was listening to the conclusion of the weekend show “The Ender” and noticed that Danny Balis had The Great Robert Wilonsky filling in for his normal partner Dave Lane.
As the show was coming to a close, the subject turned to politics and the name Laura Miller came up. Danny made the comment that Laura Miller’s lasting legacy is allowing Cowboys Stadium to get away from Fair Park and be built in Arlington.
Big Bob Wilonsky immediately stopped Dan Paul in has tracks and uncomfortably (just as it is for me) defended Miller, or at least the perception that the Cowboys are in Arlington because of her. Wilonsky said he felt the Cowboys had no real thoughts of moving to Dallas and gave the city and county an unrealistic deadline to decide on what would eventually be a $1.15 billion stadium.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post titled Blame Lincoln (not Miller) for Cotton Bowl Move. In the post, I detailed why I felt that Laura Miller got a bad rap for the fact that the Cowboys and the Cotton Bowl Bowl Classic are both in Arlington rather than Dallas. Here are a few points from the post:
- Arlington will finance the new Cowboys stadium the same way that they paid for The Ballpark in Arlington: with a 1¢ sales tax. Many local cities offer citizens public transit with their penny, Arlington builds stadiums…
- Arlington, Texas (the country’s 50th most populous city) is the largest city in the U.S. that does not offer its citizens public transportation. In May of 2002, Arlington residents voted against the creation of the Arlington Transit Authority, and effectively voted yes to the new Cowboys project.
- DART operations are funded by a one-cent sales tax levied by member cities on all retail transactions. So cities like Irving, Richardson, Plano, and of course Dallas, were effectively out of the running on the new stadium from the start.
- Does anyone really believe Irving would have let the Cowboys walk away if there was ANYTHING they could have done about it? Give me DART rail over Cowboy Land any day of the week.
I thought we’d gotten past all of this until I saw Jean Jacques Taylor’s column last week titled “Cowboys Stadium Would Look Even Nicer in Dallas.” In the column Taylor made his feelings on the matter quite clear:
For now, I’m still mad about the stupid decisions made by former mayor Laura Miller and Margaret Kelleher at the County Commissioner’s office to keep the stadium out of Dallas. There was never ever a legitimate reason for not letting Dallas voters decide whether they wanted to fund the stadium….
I’ve never been to a stadium that has the wow factor of this place – and I’m not one who gets all fired up over new stadiums. Most of them are nice, but not enough to awe me.
This place does.
I was not surprised that Taylor was wowed by the new Cowboys Stadium. I expect to be equally wowed when I get my first look at the stadium in a few of weeks. In college my friends called me “stadium jock” because I could give the name and capacity of every NFL and most college stadiums. I get fired up for stadiums new and old.
But I was surprised that Taylor’s column easily dismissed the whole things as political jealousy and “Arlington taxpayers (spending) more than $300 million on the stadium.” That just doesn’t tell the story.
When I try to articulate the factors, as Wilonsky did on Saturday, people generally lose interest real quick. Suggesting that Dallas, Irving, and Arlington (and Ft. Worth for that matter) have a choice between mass transit and the Cowboys doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as saying Laura Miller had it out for Jerry Jones.
Being in the position of defending Miller is not an easy one, but the truth is the truth. While there are many ways for municipalities to fund the building of a stadium, none of them are as quick or as painless as raising the money through sales tax.
Unlike JJT, I moved on long ago once I realized that it was never realistic to think that the Cowboys would land in Dallas. Mr. Jones knew that, but he also knew he had to give Dallas a shot.
Miller’s problem with the stadium was the same as most of her struggles as mayor, coming across as a killjoy and unwilling to work with the business community (aka rich people). The fact of the matter is she was right in her position on the stadium, just not in how she articulated it.
Cowboys Stadium (gulp) is exactly where it belongs, in Arlington, Texas. When the Super Bowl comes to town every city, town and outpost will benefit. As a member of the Super Bowl Host Committee I would be expected to say that but it’s true. In Dallas we will have a host of great Super Bowl related events, just not the game.
I hope I don’t have to revisit this at Dallas South, but this is one of those line in the sand issues for me. If I find that I have to defend our former mayor again, at least I know Robert Wilonsky has my back.