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Friday, October 27, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 49 

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Rockets are whiney and spoiled

Jonathan Robinson

Even if you only glanced at the television last week, you were probably hypnotized by the sickeningly sentimental, yet perversely appealing "Let's build it together" pro-arena commercial.

The ad touches our sense of hope for the future by showing students at school -- perhaps because of the miracle of some arena-related scholarship -- and young people diligently practicing the cello, hoping to perform at one of the new arena's much touted 20 rent-free days for charity functions.

In reality, however, we have already built a facility for the Rockets, which works perfectly well for them and for many other events such as concerts, conventions and hockey games. 

The Summit, which opened in 1975, was built with county and city revenues and even though citizens paid to build it, Compaq now uses its marquee as the company's billboard.

Like with everything else, people don't fully appreciate anything that is just given to them. The Rockets are no exception.

It's as if a community came together for an old-fashioned barn-raising only to have the beneficiaries of this charitable impulse abdicate any obligation until the community builds them a mansion on a better piece of property, rent free.

The plan is for us to pay for the arena and also pay exorbitant fees to enter it -- which, if we pay for it, should be free. If the arena is not built, the Rockets are threatening to leave town. 

It's called a hollow threat.

For the city, the arena is not even a good thing. Increasing sports subsidies will only jeopardize Houston's economy.

Tax revenues in Harris County and in Houston are already inadequately funding the local services and infrastructure: Roads need repairs, teachers need to be hired at a decent wage, schools need to be improved and new ones need to be built. 

Let's face it: the Rockets are unlikely to leave town if we don't build them another $175 million arena. Where would they go? Louisville? Louisville has already expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the Rockets' demanding attitude.

If the Rockets want to leave town, I wish them God speed. After all, we survived the Oilers' departure and football continues to be more popular in this part of the country than basketball is.

There is always someone out there to replace them. Why should we be like puppy dogs and be blindly loyal to a team that obviously doesn't care much for us? If the Compaq Center is not good enough for the Rockets, let the Rockets find a solution to the problem.

Just as it is bad for teenagers to know that their parents will buy them anything they want, it is bad that corporations think taxpayers will be there to bail them out if they need something.

The Rockets need to learn to appreciate what the town has given them and not act like spoiled children that have always had their every wish indulged.

Robinson, a senior philosophy major, 
can be reached at Ravan7@hotmail.com.

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