same degree of effort to maintain black law students, as they had to maintain black athletes, under a so-called race neutral system. I don’t believe that’s too much to ask.” ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN But as the Lege had confirmed weeks earlier, when it comes to big-time sports, nothing is too much to ask. With the exception of minority legislators and a handful of progressive allies, Hopwood never really rang the Lege’ s bell. From Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Arlington \(and lord knows, probably Marfa lic business: the desperate need of professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey and god-knows-what-else athletic leagues for publicly subsidized, privately profitable sports stadiums. This time the financing mechanism would allow a hike in municipal sales taxes; thus, all citizens would be taxed, regressively, for the amusement of a few and the enrichment of even fewer. With that prospect in sight, the legislative bandwagon was quickly loaded to capacity. There was a brief dust-up over the issue in the Houston delegationSylvester Turner was savaged in the Houston media \(especially the Chronicle, which shills breathlessly on behalf of the city’s tended to shift public transit money for stadium-related expenses \(a to hold a referendum. \(An earlier Houston stadium-building referendum had narrowly passed, but only following repeated assurAnd there was a minor war between reps from Dallas and Arlington, who were competing mightily for the privilege of paying corporate blackmail in return for the affections of the feckless owners of the Dallas Mavericks. The outcome was never in doubt. A pugnacious John Whitmire, the Democratic Senator quarterbacking the stadium offense, growled angrily at Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, who kept insisting primly that a hotel tax was a tax nonetheless, and when you got right down to it, she just didn’t approve of taxes. It’s a rare moment when Nelson can actually seize the moral high ground, and Whitmire’s posture of wounded masculine virtue suggested that he had lapsed momentarily into the illusion that he was defending good more impatience than actual argument in Whitmire’s condescension \(“You’re not going to vote with me anyway, Senator Nelready been decided before the members took the floor. The stadium vote \(re-christened the “community venue” legislafor one, was proud that he had amended the bill to allow the same taxes to be spent on other potential urban diversions: “arts facili Alan Pogue ties, tourism facilities, recreational facilities, parks, zoos, river walks.” He was predicting that before long, smaller cities would be using the money for all sorts of public works, “like the Austin Museum of Fine Arts.” That there might be a considerable difference between a publicly-owned museum and a for-profit stadium did not overly concern him. “Nor does [the public] make profits from roads,” he argued. “That is a public good. Some people will make money from that public good.” But his colleague Sylvester Turner described the stadium bill as “corporate welfare at its worst. At a very minimum people have a democratic right to vote on that issue….You give me a reason why people who are barely making it every day, should pay out of their pockets for financing facilities, when they can’t afford the tickets to go there.” He also objected strongly to the full-court press put on by the sports lobby, especially Houston Astros’ owner Drayton McLane. McLane called Turner on the House floor to tell him that the club, in an effort to “establish community ties,” had provided sixty-seven black ministers with a pair of season’s tickets to Astros games. “That pissed me off. I want you to know, that pissed me off! I’m sorry! Don’t talk to me about no tickets! I’m sorry. When he told me that, that did it right therebecause the mind-set of many of these people is that if we give ‘those folk’ just a little, that’s enough.” Under the bill, cities will establish “Sports Authorities” to direct the stadium planning, and Turner’s bitter Houston experience where the Metro Board, for example, does whatever the mayor tells it to dohas made him roundly skeptical of the process. “They’re going to sit around those tables and establish their Sports Authority, and I guarantee you, those people on that Authority will not be representative of the people in whose neighborhood that sports facility will be built. I guarantee you. “I am not against athletic facilities, I am not against sports,” Turner insisted. “I’m an avid sports fan. I’m not against downtown revital A Drayton McLane calling?: Sylvester Turner 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 20, 1997
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