Victoria should invest in its future

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 13, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.
Updated June 13, 2017 at 10:40 p.m.

We get it. City and county leaders are busy making sure we have what we need right now. And, yes, we do need to work on pressing concerns like affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. But could we talk about the future?

We really could use a larger multiuse arena. Somewhere much bigger than the Victoria Community Center. Somewhere that could draw in visitors from all over the region.

Surely, people who live and work in Victoria don't want to leave the area for concerts, rodeos and sporting events. Those dollars could be spent locally rather than boosting the economy of our big-city neighbors.

This idea came up more than four years ago and was received pretty well. The problem: who would pay for it?

We could work with all of the hotels in the area and see about increasing the hotel occupancy taxes. It's likely they'd support the change with a promise that an arena would attract more business down the road.

We could also take a harder look at how we spend the projected $1.35 million in Hotel Occupancy Tax funds.

No one likes to talk about raising taxes, but most residents could justify spending a few bucks more on a bond if the return means being able to take the kids to monster truck shows or Cirque du Soleil or a big local rodeo.

The University of Houston-Victoria could be a viable tenant, and the new space could offer a venue for sporting events.

Probably the best way to bring an arena or large venue would be through a public-private partnership like the one built in Cedar Park now called the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.

Mayor Paul Polasek said while he supports a public-private venture, he isn't sure the market could bear it.

Well, there's one way to find out. Officials, either city or county or both, could commission a market study. Let's find out if our local economy could support such a project.

One thing is for certain, if done right, a new events center could improve our quality of life.

Builder Steve Roth and architect Rawley McCoy actually presented 18 months of research in 2013 to the Victoria County Commissioner's Court showing what an events center could look like here. The businessmen proposed building a 500-acre, multiuse facility east of Zac Lentz Parkway at Airline Road. That preliminary plan included a full-service hotel and the capacity of 8,500 for concerts and 6,500 for rodeos or sporting events.

Some might argue that we must be conservative, especially during tight budget cycles. But we owe it to our families to continue searching for ways to make our community better.

Back when Victoria Independent School District built its two high schools, people questioned it. But the leadership had a vision. It was that kind of foresight that attracted some of our bigger companies to town.

McCoy said although everyone seems interested in the project, it's like we are all standing by the pool waiting for the first person to jump in.

It's been years since he and Roth brought this idea to the table, and there hasn't been any public action.

Now is the time to talk to your local elected officials and challenge them to look into our city's future.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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