If Ray Kinsella can build a ball–park in a cornfield in Iowa without raising taxes, why can’t Wilmington build one on the river? Wait. “Field of Dreams” was fiction?
Is it still fact that the U.S. waged two wars for a decade and cut taxes on our richest citizens? Or has Karl Rove re-written that? I wonder how many fields of how many dreams could have been built with a trillion tax dollars—and how many dreams were bruised, blistered or blasted by our collective willingness to fund wars rather than find ways to play ball together.
Maybe the baseball stadium debate is one of many political and economic questions that are less about cost and more about values. When politicians tell me, “We can’t afford it; the numbers speak for themselves,” should I nod in agreement like a Chipper Jones bobblehead? What they’re saying is: “We don’t value books or building cultural bridges; we value bombs.”
There are good reasons to oppose the stadium project, but I’m concerned that some people opposing public monies for a municipal stadium don’t value public anything—schools, libraries, health departments, fire departments, prisons, social services, etc. Why would they value a municipal stadium?
The week spring training opened I saw “Spring Awakening” at City Stage. By chance, I chatted with Mayor Saffo after the show. (Attending live, local theatre is an act of courage for any politician and earned him my vote.) In general, art is politically dangerous. It simultaneously shows us where we’ve been, holds a mirror to who we are, and charts our course to where we might go. Live, local theatre is as politically incorrect as art gets. City Stage fare is typically powerful and provocative—in a word, “progressive.” And “Spring Awakening” is the most astonishing new musical I’ve seen in a decade (with its last run this weekend).
Mayor Saffo’s attendance at “Spring Awakening” demonstrated that even if he’s not “edgy,” he’s aware that looking ahead is the only way forward. In addition to admiring the artistry of the show, we talked about baseball. (I’d vote for him twice if I could.) He foresees a Wilmington that includes wise and green development, some of the green in the outfield grass of a minor-league ballpark.
I want to see a municipal multi-use facility downtown nearly as much as he does—and a minor league team. Still, I’m on the fence about this stadium project. If Wilmington were like the Texas community—which last year voted for a tax to build a $60 million football stadium for Allen High’s highly prized football team while slashing not so highly prized education budgets—I’d be totally against it. Whether this Texas town was infiltrated by tax-and-spend liberals, or their decision resulted from reading scripture as science, I value things differently.
Before or in addition to funding baseball stadiums, I’d use tax revenue from all levels of government to restore budgets to education, public health and libraries. I’d re-fund public employee’s pensions rather than blaming unions and labor for a financial morass precipitated by the greediest, most psychopathic number-crunchers we’ve ever seen. Not to bring religion into politics (God knows until Rick St. Orum and the GOP are placed in a museum with the Judas Cradle, Iron Maiden and other vestiges of the middle ages, we’ll have enough of that), but I’d even refund the public defender’s office. That way, when penniless, illegal-immigrant Jesus returns and is arrested as a terrorist, he’ll have adequate legal representation. Frankly, between racial profiling and his subversive “love your enemies” teachings, Jesus could wind up at Gitmo.
I hope Wilmington finds a way to play ball. If the current proposal falls through, it won’t dampen my admiration of live, local art or diminish my passion for the beauty of baseball. Yes, sports fans: I know baseball is ultimately pointless and unnecessary. So are wars, and our tax dollars fund the hell out them.