Shut down the Sports Authority and save $40 million
The Chronicle's editorial board would like to see the Houston Sports Authority stay in business:
Shuttering the agency sounds simple but overlooks the complexities of servicing more than a billion dollars in stadium bonds and seeing that the public's property is well-maintained. There are also sports projects that could use the expertise of Sports Authority staff, including efforts to build community centers where young people can swim and play sports.
The Sports Authority should stay intact to build community centers? The editorial also says the the Authority has a "continuing role to play in attracting premiere events such as the Super Bowl and new teams, including soccer and ice hockey." Well, I don't see that in its mission statement; and anyway, we already have the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Put Jordy Tollett to work handling sports promotion, in addition to his other promotion duties.
Tom Kirkendall addressed the Sports Authority issue the other day:
After spending a total of $1.036 billion to build all three stadiums, the Authority voted to sell another $37 million in bonds last summer to induce the investment rating agencies not to downgrade the bonds from investment grade to junk. The additional bond revenue was needed to make up for lagging hotel and car rental tax revenues that are dedicated to pay the bond debt.
The sports authority has about a $3 million operating budget, about half of which is dedicated to contractual obligations and professional fees that either the city or county would have to pay even if the authority were dissolved. However, the bonds are amortized over 30 years, so saving $1.5 million a year over that period is not chump change.
I'd trust Kirkendall's opinion ANY day over the opinion of the Chronicle's editorial board.
Here's what Paul Bettencourt said this afternoon on KSEV-700: the money that could be saved by dissolving the Sports Authority -- over the course of 30 years -- would cover the revenue shortage that forced the Sports Authority to sell more bonds last year. That should be reason enough to end the Authority. He also pointed out that we have a problem getting rid of government entities that have fulfilled their missions.
The Sports Authority's mission has been fulfilled; the three venues are completed. It's time to dissolve it.