Reunion Arena isn’t on the gallows just yet, but the hangman has reached the cell door. Today, the city council's Economic Development Committee unanimously passed a motion recommending City Manager Mary Suhm close the 28-year-old arena and generate a financing plan for the structure’s demolition.
City attorneys could not answer just how expensive the demolition tab would run the city, but did note that by simply “mothballing” the facility, the city was in line to lose $400,000 to $500,000 per year. Lawyers also told the committee they had no idea where the money for the demolition would come from -- though we've got sledgehammers, just sayin'.
Each member of the council's committee was in agreement that Reunion Arena needed to go, although each member rolled out the necessary grieving preamble before shoveling dirt on the body. Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway told the assemblage, “I wore my black suit today to what appears to be a eulogy of Reunion Arena.” He then noted how the building was losing more than $1 million a year, and blamed all the facilities financial ills that infamous agreement that says that Reunion can’t compete with the AAC for any events -- also known as the “Reunion is the AAC’s Bitch” clause.
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Caraway then introduced the motion concerning the fate of Reunion. Specifically, it advises the closing of the arena, securing the building and assessing it for demolition and producing a financing plan for said demolition. For some reason, though, the committee couldn’t indefinitely flick the switch, so it kept in a provision recommending that the city manager perform a renovation plan.
The only piece of real controversy was the issue of Woodbine, Ray Hunt’s development company, and its right of first refusal. Should Dallas regulate Reunion Arena a “surplus property,” Woodbine has the option of purchasing it from the city for a fixed price. The company would almost certainly buy the property, as it is located in close proximity to fellow (and future) Woodbine cash cows Reunion Tower and Union Station.
Due to its location, location, location -- and we've heard that’s important in real estate -- and the fact that its a seller’s market, Angela Hunt told the committee that “getting rid of the property is a dumb idea.” And everyone agreed, 28 minutes later.
Although no concrete decision was made, there seems little doubt now that the city will raze Reunion Arena, probably later rather than sooner, but it will get done. As Mitchell Rasansky said, “[Reunion Arena] is the second baby dinosaur we have in Dallas. We need to tear it down as soon as we can.” Just a few more strips of red tape, Mitch, just a few more strips. --Spencer Campbell