|The City and NCS have proposed building a new "tent"|
at the regional park, similar to this one at the CasaBlanca.
Last week, the City of Mesquite and their longtime bedfellow NCS rolled out their latest idea for the local gameshow "Who Can Waste A Million Dollars."
Originally, the plan was to build the shell of an amphitheater; concrete seating under the hot sun in an inaccessible gully; with a temporary stage; in a town where we already have two theater venues we can't fill, including a recently revamped one that has just 200 seats.
NCS and the City joined forces to come up with this bad idea, never bothering to ask local citizens what they might want built or bought with NCS's million dollar gift.
When the inevitable chorus of boos erupted, and continued with catcalls that wouldn't go away, the City and NCS called for a "do-over."
So a new meeting was set, local citizens showed up, and excitement was in the air as it appeared the people might actually get a chance to offer some ideas in an open forum.
Last week's meeting was just another dog-and-pony show, just a different colored dog.
The City and NCS rolled out a prepared presentation on what they wanted next. Again, while questions and suggestions were permitted, it was obvious that this was just another "done deal" in search of citizen acquiescence.
The presentation featured a new bad idea to replace the old bad idea: a used tent.
The plan was for the City and NCS to go in on a "fabric building" that could be used for "indoor" events. The big idea for its use? An indoor soccer field. As if the other five unused soccer fields in the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex weren't enough.
To be fair, the venue could be used for other events...like the awards ceremonies at the annual Long Drivers championships. You know, the event that the MSEC was REALLY built for under the guise of a regional park. The soccer fields were a dodge used to scam the county into providing most of the funding, since most self-respecting county governments would refuse to knowingly use millions of taxpayer dollars to build a free venue for a multi-million dollar private sports corporation that caters to the rich.
One thing Mesquite truly needs, and has needed for years, is a civic center. We are supposed to be a tourist town; or at least that's what we were before politicians started dangling Mesquite as a destination for mythical renewable energy projects or a youth sports Mecca with the even more mythical but failed Desert Falls. Real tourist towns need a place to hold conventions.
The CasaBlanca built a temporary "Events Center" a few years ago that is (wait for it) a fabric building. Since then, the City has nagged them about taking it down because it's an eyesore, it exceeded the time limit of its original permit, and former CasaBlanca owner Randy Black never fulfilled his promise to build a permanent event center.
Now that it's the CITY and their bosom buddies at NCS looking to erect a big tent, well, that would be okay. Right?
So now the City is looking for public support in their endeavor to spend $2-3 million for the tent, which with the million dollar gift from NCS would still cost taxpayers a million or two.
Somehow the city officials missed the memo that said "Dear World, We are in a recession. Tighten your belts." You would think the blizzard of pink slips issued to longtime city employees over the last two years might have been a hint, but Mesquite's City Hall has never been accused of being particularly quick or bright. (Remember the post-dated check we took from the Desert Falls people?)
Oh, and the best part:
The tent we're buying is used. Two years old, to be exact. It has a guarantee that only promises the thing will remain standing for another eight years. And that's if the wind doesn't blow too hard, which it only does about 300 days a year in Mesquite.
Here's the good news: at least we're moving in the right direction.
We've gone from a completely unworkable outdoor venue with torturous concrete seating in an inaccessible place, to an enclosed soccer field in a remote park where we could at least put some uncomfortable folding chairs.
What we really need is a large, permanent, air conditioned convention facility as close to the middle of town as possible. With some nice chairs. And a city government smart enough to figure out how to market and promote it to draw in some conventions.
So the new tent is a baby step, although a stumbling one. Especially since Mesquite already has a tent, conveniently located next to a large hotel and casino. Also, we still have that whole "recession" thing to deal with before we start burning more taxpayer money (although that didn't stop City Hall from buying an $8 million police station and spending $1.7 million on some high-priced land for a library that we're likely to get just about the same time the first passenger jet touches down at our mythical new airport).
In the meantime, one question remains: If NCS has a million to give, why do they and the City continue to resist the idea of putting new ballfields in a sports park? One thing Mesquite DOES do well is lure baseball camps and softball tournaments, especially senior softball tournaments that bring plenty of fun and monied seniors to our hotels and casinos. In fact, on several occasions the promoters had to turn away teams because we simply didn't have enough fields.
Also, the location we're talking about is near Sun City, an active retirement community. I suspect they'd be more likely to use a softball field than an indoor soccer field. I've seen a lot of senior softball teams in my time here, but have yet to see a senior soccer team take the field.
Maybe the reason for avoiding a ballfield is the metaphorical comparisons that would surely follow. In an effort to hit a "home run," NCS and the City now have two strikes. Perhaps this would be a good time to call a timeout and hold a conference on the mound where the rest of the team, meaning the people of Mesquite who will be paying the bill, can have a chance to offer their ideas and suggestions.