The cool kids don’t go to the old barn do they?
Kalamazoo, Michigan may be getting a new arena at some point in the future. Step one, the Michigan House of Representatives has approved a bill, which would give the Kalamazoo County Commission the ability to raise hotel and motel room tax in the city and create a funding mechanism to build the arena. There are more steps in the process including the state senate saying yes to the hotel-motel tax hike and the governor would have to sign the bill into law. The pro-arena faction contends that Kalamazoo needs a new building to attract concerts, events and conventions. The present Kalamazoo venue opened in 1974 and seats a bit more than 5,000 for hockey but it can hold 8,000 people for a concert. The building has always housed a minor league hockey team. Kalamazoo needs a new building because the arena could prevent young adults from leaving the area although just how that could happen is a bit of a mystery as a new arena is not going to create new jobs or give them something new to do. There is an arena in town.
The keep the young people in town by building an arena is not a new thought. In 1997-1998, baseball stadium supporters in the Triad region of North Carolina trotted out the line when Don Beaver tried to move Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins to Greensboro. On May 5, 1998 Triad area residents soundly rejected a stadium referendum. Voters were asked to support a restaurant tax that would have raised about $150 million to build a stadium. Beaver had agreed to purchase the Minnesota Twins and move them to North Carolina in 1999. One of the arguments that stadium proponents in North Carolina used was that the area needed a major league team to keep 18-to-24-year-olds in the area. The team would give them something to do.