Missoula city government is being seduced by yet another smooth talker who promises to bring glory to the city or solve some intractable problem — in this case, redevelopment of the Riverfront Triangle Fox site. Stalled for years, this project has been resurrected by new arrival and entertainment czar Nick Checota, who promises to fast-track an events center, hotel and condos on the site.

However, in approving the pie-in-the-sky scheme, council members failed to ask some vital questions like: What kind of jobs will this create and how much will they pay? Union or non-union? Without a sales tax, how exactly do non-business-owning Missoula residents benefit from having 10,000 to 15,000 more people downtown each month jamming up the streets, hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.?

Why give away a 50-year lease on what will be a city-owned facility to a guy who has a death grip on almost all other entertainment venues in the area, including the baseball park? (Why not start with five years and see how he does?) Are city official really this dumb or just dazzled?

Right now it is no fun for anyone over 30 to attend a concert at the Checota-owned Wilma Theater, where most are standing room only — no seating. How much fun will it be to have 6,000 standers in an event center or to sit in folding chairs? Oh, boy! Count us out.

What Missoula needs is an indoor auditorium with permanent, comfortable seating for 3,000, not a convertible, multipurpose convention space. Encouraging thousands of people to drive or fly (the worst kind of climate change impact activity for individuals) to Missoula is amazingly hypocritical considering all the climate change and environmental protection rules, projects and expenditures Missoula city undertakes.

If this latest promoter is as good as the guy who sold the city on the ball field, watch out, Missoulians. You are about to take a huge bath courtesy of another self-promoter. I sure am glad we do not live in city limits.

Rocky Sehnert,


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