If You Build It

They wonít come ... or at least not without better planning

Cultural and sporting event spaces are crucial to a community's vitality, says Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan group that advocates limited government and low taxes. But planners should first consider whether existing facilities could serve the same purpose. Once a project gets a green light, Sepp says, it's crucial to maintain accountability every step of the way -- something Miami isn't exactly famous for.

So rather than spend more millions on more soon-to-be-antiquated facilities, Miami needs to quantify how cultural and sporting facilities will improve living for everyone -- so-called "spillover benefits," according to Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida. "The only rationale for public subsidies is spillover benefits," he says. "And I see no way to benefit from a museum or a stadium if I do not attend."

Rameau has a good idea about how Miami could spend the millions now wasted on cultural facilities: low-income housing. The Carnival Center, Rameau continues deadpan, should be "used for demolition practice exercises. It's going to be a [financial] burden on our children."

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