While I was not at Mayor Herenton's event, the idea of a new football stadium is one of the craziest ideas I have ever heard. Why? Why? Why? Why?
The stadium/arena business has been HUGE the last 10-15 years as every team in every professional league wanted a new stadium. Some cities even built these arenas without a team in place. In the late 1980s, Memphis was in serious consideration for an NFL team. At that point, a new football stadium made sense. That dream ended when the NFL decided to expand to Jacksonville and Charlotte in 1995. Memphis did receive its NFL team for a short period in 1997 when the Oilers moved from Houston while waiting for its Nashville stadium. However due to lack of attendance, the team left a year early.
In this day and age in Memphis, a new stadium does not make sense. I imagine that the city would have a much better use for $100M than a new stadium even if it is privately financed. While it may be privately financed, there will still be issues for the city to deal with such as traffic congestion, viable locations, environmental factors, parking and infrastructure needs.
I would agree that a new stadium makes sense if and only if the following occur:
- Violent crime in the city is significantly reduced;
- Infant mortality rates are reduced;
- Communities are revitalized;
- Political corruption and kickbacks are ended;
- Overall health is improved;
- Living wages are increased (not by legislation, but by the market forces);
- Public education is improved;
If UM wants to build its own stadium, then more power to the university. UM does need a better football stadium, because it will help improve the program get better recruits and better non-conference opponents. Perhaps a new stadium may even entice one of the BCS conferences such as the SEC or Big East to offer membership to UM. While this would be one potential benefit from a stadium, it is not the city's responsibility to provide the stadium especially when there are so many pressing needs that have not been addressed.
Perhaps the Mayor has a plan for improving all the above while also getting his stadium, but I just do not see how it will be possible.