The only thing missing during the Tyler administration’s sports complex presentation at the Shreveport City Council on Tuesday was a marching band,
majorettes, and Shriner’s minicars.
And when it was over, the Council was left with the task of sorting through the parade debris to decide how to vote on September 12 on the Mayor Tyler’s resolution to pursue a public private partnership on Cross Bayou.
And if ever there has been a hot potato political issue list in Shreveport, the sports complex would certainly be in the top five if not number one.
Preceding a well-scripted hour long performance, the Tyler administration passed out to the Council a 40 page plus promotion package that included everything from listing every major institution and employer in Shreveport to detailed drawings of the proposed complex along with the mixed-use development site along Cross Bayou.
The booklet touted the Ark-La-Tex median household income to be $61,364, a “proven track record of support for the Pelicans by hosting preseason games in 2014 and 2106” (actually played to small crowds at Centurytel in Bossier City), and “extensive support from various governmental agencies, business community, and citizens.”
The community support was evidenced by a second handout with over 20 letters, which supported the notion of a Pelican developmental league team in town, but not specifically the proposed sports complex. The Downtown Development Authority has already backtracked on the report that its board endorsed the sports complex.
The City had two primary selling points on the complex and surrounding development which would include retail space, hotel, housing and a park along Cross Bayou.
The first was that the $30 million in bonds for the complex would be repaid initially from the Riverfront Development Fund and later from revenue generated by the new development. Secondly, the Birmingham development firm Corporate Realty would head up the private development, lock stock and barrel, of more than $100 million that would complete the package for the long promised development of Cross Bayou with no public dollars.
Social media has been less than kind , to say the least, on the idea of the sports complex from the press release on Monday before the Tuesday Council presentation. And its hard to find, other than the usual suspects who support anything in the name of “economic development”, many (if any) supporters of the project that area not in the construction or food and entertainment industry.
Tyler probably hoped that the sports complex, mixed-used development proposal would give her administration some breathing room from the public pressure to deal with crime and the increased scrutiny over the water billing litigation.
The day of the presentation there were 3 shootings in Shreveport and the day after a homicide. So much for her proud announcement to the Council on Tuesday that crime for July 2017 was less than crime in July 2016. And the quick response by the Police Union denouncing the project certainly took some of the wind out of her sports balloon.
And as far as the water billing litigation, the Council was briefed in an executive session Tuesday after the conclusion of the meeting by one of the private attorneys handing the litigation. Although the briefing was confidential, Caddo District Judge Ramon Lafayette on Monday ordered that Tyler appear for a third deposition and answer questions she previously dodged. Lafitte also ordered City Attorney William Bradford to produce his text and phone records showing communications with Lynn Braggs and David Aubrey.
For those keeping track the city has lost 7 of the 8 court rulings in all the water billing litigation.
Loss in all the hubbub over the Mayor’s proposal is that the Council vote on September 12 is only to authorize the major to proceed with the project in hopes of being named the winner in the award of the Pelicans developmental league basketball team.
The other city in the running is Pensacola Florida which has an existing facility that hosted a Continental Basketball (CBA) team for 6 years. Pensacola is also preparing a new sports complex, mixed-used development similar to Shreveport.
The proposal does not commit the city to spend money on the project or in fact endorse the proposed development,-its more of a wedding announcement party versus an actual wedding.
Nonetheless the four Council members facing re-election next year and the three who hope to “term out” with a memory of successful service realize the significance of their votes.
If nothing more all the interest in this project, which is a good thing from the perspective of civil involvement, may send a message to Tyler, who held a high dollar campaign fundraiser event Thursday evening, regarding her priorities for her Administration and her re-election thoughts for next year.