Entertainment complex on the ballot

November 3, 2008 4:38:55 PM PST
Besides president and other big races, some voters in Ft. Bend County will decide on an entertainment district that could bring new development into town. Sugar Land voters will find four propositions on the ballot Tuesday. If approved, they would move the development and funding of an indoor concert hall, a minor league baseball stadium and other entertainment venues another step closer to reality.

Proponents say the project is about taking control of the city's destiny.

It's the last thousand acres of undeveloped land in Sugar Land.

"We could either let this grow and develop on its own or we could have a hand in its development," said former Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace.

Wallace is leading the effort to create the Sugar Land Cultural/Entertainment District, which could include a minor league baseball stadium, indoor concert venue, festival site and cultural arts facility.

"It makes it more of a destination," he told us.

City economic development leaders say the project would help keep Sugar Land and Fort Bend dollars at home, something you can't do now.

"You want to go to a concert venue, hold your high school graduation. You want to go to a ball game," said Joe Esch with the City of Sugar Land. "You have to leave our community to do that."

If passed, the city says the propositions will not increase the sales tax rate in the city of Sugar Land, nor will it increase property taxes. So how will they fund it?

The money would come from city sales tax dollars set aside for economic development plus proposed venue taxes, including a ticket tax of 10% of the face value per ticket sold, a parking tax up to $3 per car and a hotel occupancy tax increase of two percent.

Proponents say the development would not cause significant traffic, noise or other issues.

"What we are focusing on is the quality of life in the city of Sugar Land. That is second to none and what we want to do is continue to raise the bar."

Peter Galicki, though, who lives less than a mile from the proposed site fears the quiet at his home could be jeopardized should something like a stadium be built.

"I would think that the noise would be a problem," he said.

Proponents say those living nearby shouldn't have major complaints about the lights and noise of a stadium. After all, Ft. Bend's Mercer Stadium is larger than whatever ball park might actually be built. That's right in the middle several neighborhoods and no one is complaining about that.

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