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Continue to tell the story about ‘rink of debt’

I would like to commend the Pioneer for the fine articles on the teetering events center and the fiasco of BSU’s contractual commitment to it. If such articles had been done before its construction, highlighting the consultants’ warnings and the precarious financial projections on which it was based, perhaps our financially strapped city and university would not have been saddled with the burden of this great mausoleum that was bullied into existence despite legitimate voices of concern that were raised against it.

Let this be a lesson in journalistic integrity. Community journalism does not always mean community boosterism. This concrete monster with its insatiable appetite for funds should never have been built, and the Pioneer should have had the courage to air both sides with equal fervor instead of tacitly supporting the boosters while ignoring those who saw the mausoleum for the economic house of cards that it is proving to be.

It may still survive. We can only hope. But thus far, all the cautionary notes that were sounded and ignored are proving to be true. This is not a rink of dreams, it is a rink of debt. And $5 parking fees and $34 cheap seats for hockey games are not a solution.

Here’s the hard truth: the city screwed up, and the council and mayor acted like a collection of gerbils in supporting this fiasco. BSU allowed itself to be bullied into a long-term arrangement that will sap the funds of an already struggling institution. Meanwhile, the great mausoleum sits, empty and unloved, on the south shore of our city’s namesake lake, demanding to be fed.

I hope the Pioneer continues to have the courage to expose some of the realities of this grave civic miscalculation. For the reality is, we’ve built it, we own it, and, despite the happy talk, endless changes in management, and promises of future glory, it gives every appearance of being a lethal financial burden on both the city and the university.

I am not saying this is going to be the case: prophecies of doom are no more legitimate than prophecies of glorious success. But we need to be vigilant, and the Pioneer needs to be the voice of that vigilance.

For now you need to continue to tell the story, and the story that needs to be told is very simple: “Bemidji, we have a problem.”