(Credit © 1971 Frank Wright)
Lee Benson, identical twin brother of US District Court Judge Dee Benson, makes many excellent points in his most recent Op-Ed column:
[C]ould somebody please explain how Real Salt Lake survived to play another season in Utah while work now begins on its $110 million stadium?
After months and months of economic due diligence and political leaders behaving like true public servants, following the lead of public opinion polls against the deal, Real was denied taxpayer help with its stadium and thus its future in Utah.
Overnight, a deal that had been studied upside down and sideways for nearly two years by the county and declared "too risky" by Corroon was declared "a solid investment" by Huntsman.
What was that all about? Other than proof positive that a governor trumps a mayor?
I don't get it. Why is RSL so special? With a few exceptions, the Jazz being the most prominent, other pro sports teams on the verge of collapse have looked for government assistance and gotten basically the same reception as someone trying to butt in line at the airport magnetometer.
And no matter how great soccer is as a sport, no matter how many American kids play it at least until they're 14, RSL is no Jazz and the MLS is no NBA.
Major League Soccer is a second-class league with a reputation for losing money that averages 15,000 fans a game — 2,000 less than when it started 11 years ago — and is hanging its latest hopes on a benchwarmer from Europe married to an aging pop star who is being offered a salary that, with bonuses, could exceed the payroll for the entire rest of the league.
Forget Real Salt Lake, there's no guarantee the league will be around in five years.
Benson puts the blame on the Governor, who flexed his political muscles for this to happen in such a short time. But I think Huntsman was trying to cover for Speaker Curtis, who has been pushing for this from day one. And despite seeing his proverbial wax melt in November and barely survive, he decided that public be damned he was going to waste millions of tax payer dollars on a stadium. And vouchers. And tax cuts on the rich. And an abortion test case. But spend a million to prevent cancer in women who might be sexually active? No way.
I expect that next time, Curtis' most recent trips to the sun will be rewarded with a nice salty bath in the Great Salt Lake. At least I hope that the voters of Sandy will see how unrepresentative of their district and values their Representative really is.