Facing the Stadium Issue 

A public forum was held this week on the issue of a new football stadium -- considered urgent by the current mayor of Memphis, to judge by remarks His Honor made on New Year's Day and subsequently -- and, lo and behold, Mayor Herenton was a no-show. Both he and his chief finance officer, Robert Lipscomb, were actually listed on the program as panelists. And, though the event was held in the cavernous Rose Theater at the University of Memphis, other significant non-attendees were university president Shirley Raines and U of M athletic director R.C. Johnson.

A pity, since the event, sponsored by the university's Sport and Leisure Commerce program and by the student chapter of the Sport Marketing Association, boasted some illustrious participants. Those included City Council member (and mayoral candidate) Carol Chumney; Bank of Bartlett president Harold Byrd, a well-known university booster; Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhardt; Professor Charles Santo of the University of Memphis; and Professor Dan Rascher of the University of San Francisco. The latter two panelists provided in-depth analysis of the economic factors involved in construction of a new stadium.

It was no surprise that Byrd, chief backer of an on-campus facility, made a vigorous case for building at the university. What was surprising was the extent to which the two academicians, Rascher in particular, argued that more direct and indirect benefits to the community were to be had from an on-campus stadium, and at far lower cost. For his part, Ehrhardt pronounced himself perfectly amenable to the concept, so long as the requisite number of seats (60,000, in his estimation) were made available in order to keep the annual Liberty Bowl from retrogressing.

All participants tended to agree that a stadium at the Fairgrounds -- the solution envisioned by Herenton -- would require an additional and perhaps prohibitively costly investment in surrounding infrastructure to be viable.

Meanwhle, the projected facts and figures relating to that Fairgrounds proposal are yet to be laid on the table, and, for reasons we find unfathomable, Raines and Johnson decline to comment on either the Fairgrounds concept or the idea of a campus facility until and when such revelations are at hand. We advise them not to hold their breath.

Merely exhale and look again, closely, at the more viable proposal at hand -- literally right under their noses.

An Anniversary

"With its radical concept of preventive war, the Bush administration is about to let a potentially dangerous genie out of the bottle."

That's what we said editorially four years ago, as the Bush administration led us, willing or not, into Iraq. In that first Flyer editorial on the war at hand (after issuing innumerable warnings beforehand), we suggested not only that catastrophe was being invited but that truth itself would be at serious risk. Both forebodings were, we regret to say, on point.

We have embroidered on those initial concerns extensively since then and invite interested readers to use the search engine at memphisflyer.com to check up on our percipience over the years. The bottom line is that the genie is still out of the bottle and growing more unfriendly and menacing every day. We don't mind saying that we -- and many, many others -- told them so on the front end.

And now most of you, if the opinion polls are to be believed, are trying to tell the president the same thing. Now as then, it's falling on deaf ears.

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