Toledoans should feel very good about Issue 1 on Tuesday's ballot. By voting “Yes,” here's what they get:
The city of Toledo wants to contribute up to $8 million to the project in infrastructure and improvements, plus tax increment financing that will help the private developers complete the package. The new sports arena alone will cost roughly $40 million, so that's a pretty good return on the city's investment.
The majority of the cost of the arena will be returned over 25 years through lease payments by Global Spectrum of Philadelphia, probably the nation's leading operator of sports arenas.
Issue 1 is on the ballot because the city charter requires it. The voters must agree to permit city financial assistance to projects involving sports arenas, theaters, and conference facilities.
It would be a big mistake to deny that authorization. Columbus-based developer Frank Kass is a man with a proven track record of success, in Pittsburgh, in Charlotte, in Columbus, and many other communities. He delivers what he promises, and his Marina District project may be the most exciting principally private development to come to this city in its history.
If Issue 1 should fail, the Marina District cannot go forward. City involvement is essential, and basically right, as well. Lucas County stepped forward to make sure the new Mud Hens ballpark got built, and the community awaits next spring's Opening Day with excitement and anticipation.
Now it is time for the city to do the same for the Marina District project. This is our last and best chance to salvage a one-mile stretch of riverfront that is an eyesore and an embarrassment. The investment is minimal, the return spectacular.
The project is not some pie-in-the-sky dream; if the voters agree on Tuesday, it should be 75 percent finished in three years and completed in five.
The Marina District project is essentially a gift to this community. It would be foolish to say thanks, but no thanks. Toledo needs to see the future and make it happen. Toledo needs to approve Issue 1 tomorrow.