In all honesty, we saw advantages and disadvantages to both proposals for future management of our community's signature entertainment venue — the Tyson Events Center. We believe a convincing case was made to the City Council in support of continued public management as well as conversion to private management, and we would have been comfortable with either one.
As a result, we do not criticize the council's decision in a 4-0 vote on Monday for a move to private management of Tyson, as well as the Orpheum Theatre, under Philadelphia-based Spectra by sometime late this year or early next year.
We believe the public was well-served by this process. The decision was reached at the end of a what we view as a thorough study conducted over several months, including recommendations from the Orpheum Theatre Board of Directors, the Events Facilities Advisory Board and a four-member committee formed by City Manager Bob Padmore.
In other words, the decision to make what is a significant change in direction for management of Tyson wasn't rushed.
In an Oct. 1 editorial, we suggested 10 questions the City Council should ask before deciding on management of Tyson. In our minds, the answers to these questions remain unclear:
- What happens to employees of the Events Facilities Department under private management? A representative of Spectra told the council on Monday the company plans to offer a job to all Events Facilities Department employees. Our hope is Spectra holds to this pledge.
- What will happen to the tourism arm of the Events Facilities Department under private management? In other words, who will absorb these responsibilities? We believe it's important for the city to remain engaged in tourism and do not wish to see those duties abandoned or forgotten in this transition.
From the beginning, we have supported this dialogue because it was focused on making Tyson better for today and tomorrow. Simply put, a robust Tyson is crucial to local quality of life and strong local quality of life is essential to economic growth and prosperity.
Under Spectra, we look forward to what we hope is a new era of even greater success, at less taxpayer cost, for a building so key to the future of our city.