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Evidence that I am an Obstacle to Civic Progress

2009 November 24
by Brad Humphreys

The public debate about a new arena for the Oilers has been going on for some time up here. Last weekend, the local paper, the Edmonton Journal, published several articles about the proposed new hockey arena in downtown Edmonton. One of the articles, “Blue Lines & Bottom Lines” discusses, in detail, the pro and anti arena subsidy arguments. The article contains quite a bit of detailed information, and generally does a good job of presenting the two sides of the debate, in my opinion.

I was especially amused by the comments made by Patrick LaForge, president of the Oilers, about me, and my well known anti sports subsidy position:

LaForge says Humphreys and economists like him have it all wrong, that their fixation on certain economic measures misses the bigger picture of what makes a city thrive.

“To a large degree, it’s people with Humphrey’s view that prevents us from building the next Eiffel Tower, the next Peace Arch, the next CN Tower, because people who think like him can’t find the economic rationalization to do it.

“I think that sports and entertainment is a unique industry and it adds value to a city. … You can’t replace it with a refinery or a pulp mill. They might have similar economic impact, but it’s not a substitute for entertainment for the masses.

“It’s people like him (Humphreys) that are going to prevent the world from being a place of entertainment, arts and culture. And I said that to him. It’s not that people have to buy into my thinking 100 per cent, either, but he represents a view that I just 100 per cent disagree with.”

Yep, that’s me. Slavishly devoted to sucking the joy and happiness out of urban life as we know it in North America, one article and blog post at a time. I’d like to write more about this, but I am busy trying to get the Edmonton Opera shut down.

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