Hoops, We Did It Again
To the Editor:
Why do so many of us feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? Despite a list of failed pro sports ventures longer than the personal bankruptcy filings in West Tennessee, we get up every morning and the same politicians and civic boosters (who earn 10 times the average local wage) are telling us we can easily afford $1,600 season tickets to watch one of the worst teams in pro sports. They are "excited" about the opportunity to cough up $200 million of our money to build a new arena for a multimillionaire owner. Everyone will respect us more, we're told (just as Vancouver is so highly respected now?).
If we're lucky, Groundhog Day will soon be over and, miraculously, viable life will resume in Memphis without these latest sports mercenaries.
Richard Massey, Memphis
To the Editor:
I just read the very informative March 7th article ("Hoop Dreams") concerning the NBA. Now I have an idea of who's really for the Grizzlies coming here and who's against it.
John Calipari echoes my opinion concerning the relocation, and I especially appreciated his candor. He knows it could damage his endorsement opportunities here but feels the potential for improved recruiting at U of M outweighs any personal financial benefits. Even though the Grizzlies are a pretty bad team, their arrival would put this city on the national sports scene. The Jazz were garbage when they left New Orleans for Salt Lake City in the early 1980s, and the then-Oilers were mediocre when they left Houston for Nashville four years ago.
R.C. Johnson's comments pretty much show what side of the fence he's on: "As the [U of M] athletic director, I have absolutely no desire to have any major-league sports team here." I respect his honesty, but I vehemently disagree with his statement. The U of M Tigers are the dominant force in the Memphis sports scene, but Johnson's regarding Memphis as his sports fiefdom is in line with the provincial thinking that has stalemated this city while Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville have expanded.
Memphis also needs to go ahead and start planning the financing for a new arena. The Pyramid has long been obsolete by NBA standards. For financing, I would propose the city, county, state, and corporate communities split the costs four ways over the course of several years. The two local governments could impose a special lodging tax on hotels and motels so tourists would feel more of the brunt than the taxpayers living here.
The arrival of the Grizzlies could really be a source of civic pride, something that finally transcends the racial and class barriers we Memphians seem to enjoy imposing on ourselves and each other.
Derrek Paulk, Memphis
To the Editor:
I moved to Minnesota four years ago. There is a lottery here and every year I have been here the state has had an extremely large surplus. I disagree with the way a lot of Memphians want to point out the negatives and fail to mention the positives of a state lottery. Minnesota's elected officials run their state much better than their counterparts in Tennessee, and it shows in the quality of life here. Tennessee should look to other states that are doing well for solutions to its revenue problems.
Stan Fogg, Minneapolis, MN
To the Editor:
I was disappointed with the February 22nd issue's "Fly On the Wall" featuring Brimhall Foods' new product line targeting the growing Latino population of Memphis. Chris Davis mused: "It is not known if Brims will develop a line of fried chicken or watermelon-based products aimed at Memphis' burgeoning African-American community."
I wonder what prompted this reporter to pen such a line. I know Mr. Brimhall and have some experience working with his staff. I cannot imagine why a responsible reporter would cast aspersions on this man and his company, which produces quality products and employs many Memphians.
This is a gratuitous misuse of the First Amendment freedoms granted to all citizens and explicitly to the press. Unspoken in the grant of such freedom is the responsibility to use it judiciously and without malice. I believe that Davis and the editorial department of the Flyer have failed their community and their profession and caused unnecessary harm to this man, his business, and to all the employees of Brimhall Foods.
Richard Mumm, Cordova
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