Thursday, November 24 2022

The city of St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University must have done a good job hosting four previous NCAA Division II women’s basketball tournaments in that city – the last time in 2011 – as Civic Arena begins to run. show his age.

In a previous interview, the director of St. Joseph’s parks said diplomatically, “There are some things we could do to soften that up a bit to make it a little more inviting environment.

Translation: Entering this facility is like entering a bunker.

It hasn’t always been that way. The Civic Arena opened 41 years ago today, October 4, 1980, with a pre-season NBA basketball game. Other events in the building’s first six months included the Black Sabbath, Brenda Lee and Cheap Trick concerts (separate events), professional wrestling, Ice Madness, Royal Lipizzan Stallions, and Harlem Globetrotters.

These days seem as dated as the Walkman cassette players or the “CHiPs” episodes.

But the St. Joseph Civic Arena is receiving much-needed attention and public funding, ahead of another major NCAA basketball tournament in just 18 months in March 2023. The facility is expected to receive $ 1 million in the new tax. on the parks for a new scoreboard, basketball goals, tables and digital seats for scorers.

In addition, the arena should receive $ 500,000 for new lighting, $ 400,000 for a roof and $ 220,000 for ground pits. It’s just tourist tax. City council also authorized $ 1 million in American Rescue Act funding for improvements.

All of this attention came after the city faced a choice as the Civic Arena entered the midlife crisis age. Either invest considerable funds in major renovations or build a brand new event center to anchor downtown.

The allure of something new is always great, but our city fell in step with the old when it put local and federal taxpayer dollars into the civic arena.

It was the right decision, the best use of limited resources, and a realistic assessment of the current downtown situation. The casino has shown no public interest in relocating and the Downtown Hotel looks like something “Escape from New York”, if you want to make another reference from the early 1980s.

And yet the Civic Arena, like anyone in their 40s, sometimes feels the sting of wandering ailments. People will see event centers in Sioux City, Iowa, or Independence, Missouri, and feel the pull of something more modern. They’ll say, “Why can’t we have this? “

We cannot have it because it is not what voters were promised during the election of the park tax. Additionally, other candidates had to accept a no for an answer when the city granted additional funding from the federal relief act.

Happy birthday, Civic Arena. We’re here for the long haul now.


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