Listen to this article here
Once again, the Black and Brown communities of OKC are on the menu and not at the table.
In OKC, decisions impacting our community too often exclude the interests of our Black and Brown residents. It is a fact that the majority of racism in America is carried out at the city level.
A shadow of racial bias looms over our housing/ zoning laws, policing/criminal justice system, educational funding, and healthcare access. We are a city that is 47% Black and Brown and heavily segregated by race along railroad and highway lines.
We have watched as our downtown and NW corridor explode with revitalization and reinvestment while the East and South sides have gotten crumbs from the city.
OKC Arena tax vote: How did we get here?
The MAPS program is a story of haves and have-nots. One has to wonder why a program funded by a 1% sales tax paid by all residents, has not benefited all residents equally.
The first 1990s Maps project was Bricktown and Deep Deuce. However, the last Black-owned business in Deep Deuce closed nearly a decade ago. Deep Deuce is still promoting its history as a place to enjoy Black culture and jazz music (minus the Black people who created it).
The 2020 census shows an overwhelmingly white population packed with luxury condos and apartments. I fear that further “reinvestment” from the city on the very near east side will continue the trend to push out longtime Black residents.
The December 12th OKC NBA arena tax will vastly exacerbate these historic harms if the the vote approves the deal.
The price tag of this project is a minimum of $900 million. Mayor Holt did not negotiate a maximum cost, essentially giving a blank check to billionaires with local economists predicting the final price will be $1.3- 1.5 billion dollars.
Who is the Arena really for?
In its most basic terms, 1% of every purchase you make (groceries, medicine, diapers, ect) will go to benefit eight people who have a collective net worth of $25 billion dollars.
They are headed by white, male patriarchs who all inherited vast fortunes or businesses from their parents, grandparents or marriages and who now want taxpayers to finance a minimum of $900M while they kick in $50M.
OKC residents will pay about $1,200 a person ($5,000 for a family of four). The real salt in the wound is this new arena will not have an increase in general seating, only the number of box seats.
This OKC arena tax vote will be a $500 million dollar wealth extraction from the Black and Brown communities of OKC. It is the worst deal in NBA history with taxpayers responsible for 95% of the cost while the owners only contribute 5% (compare this to other cities where ownership pays at least 36% or up to 100% of the cost).
Let’s go back to the negotiating table
In addition, this deal does not just cost our community financially, it also has an opportunity cost. The financial burden of paying 95% would delay current MAPS 4 projects and delay a MAPS 5 vote by six to eight years.
It would also prevent us from solving and addressing meaningful problems like homelessness, affordable housing, and public transportation.
As a Thunder fan, this version of the deal hurts my heart and leaves a feeling of betrayal. I am not against a new NBA arena, I am against this version of the deal. In business, you don’t take the first offer.
Let us go back to the negotiating table. I would encourage everyone to watch the Daily Show episode about arenas. The episode shows a clip of the Miami Marlins owner (David Samson) bragging that he wrote the playbook for how to get a new arena.
David Samson: “People love their team, all we had to say is that we are ready to leave if we don’t get a deal done.”
Reporter: “ Were the Marlins going to leave Miami.”
David Samson: “Absolutely not.”
We are not in danger of losing our team with a No vote on Dec 12th. The Thunder owners are local Okies who take pride in having a team. We have three more years to negotiate this deal.
I am asking you to Vote No on December 12th to force Mayor Holt back to the negotiating table and get us a better contract.
Nabilah Rawdah is the Executive Director of Oklahoma Progress Now and has a background in medical finance, lobbying and community organizing.
Source link : theblackwallsttimes.com