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Published: Tuesday, 5/24/2005

The arena issue runs deep into psychology

It was a chilly day at the top of the mountain - what a wretched May! - but even so, The Wise One sat patiently, as always, awaiting Seekers who came searching for answers to life's most elusive questions.

On this day, despite the unseasonable temps, The Wise One could see a young Seeker nearly finished with the ascent, and soon enough, the first question of the day was asked.

"O Wise One," said the Seeker, who was not out of breath, but then again, this being northwest Ohio, there was no "mountain top," really. "Wise One, I come today with a burning question about a matter that I cannot understand, try though I may."

The Wise One (who, over the years, had pretty much heard it all) took a deep breath and said kindly: "Speak, child."

"Well, it's about discussion of Toledo's arena. You know, whether a new arena should go downtown, or on the east side," said The Seeker.

The Wise One's face registered surprise. Finally, something The Wise One hadn't heard before! It got so old, that whole "meaning of life" rigmarole.

"What about the arena do you not understand, my child?"

"I've tried to follow the public debate on this, Wise One, but I can't seem to keep current. We're waiting for a study, right?"

"Yes, Seeker, probably so. Here, it seems, we are always waiting for some study."

"But, why, Wise One? Why can't Toledo just choose? What is it that requires so much study?"

The Wise One sighed. Oy. It could be so difficult, explaining things to the young.

"It is complicated, my child. There are no easy answers."

"But, Wise One, why do we ask outsiders to do the studying?"

"Ah, a most excellent question, Seeker! It is here, I am convinced, where our problems begin. This is because the outsiders do not have enough of the back story."

"‚óŹ'Back story,' Wise One?"

"Yes, Seeker. That's a little Hollywood lingo I picked up when Fox turned my life into a reality show last fall.

Perhaps you saw a few episodes? Well, never mind, it's not important. All this term means is 'background,' really."

This time, it was The Seeker who looked surprised.

"What background do they lack, Wise One?"

"Outsiders fail to see the eternal 'otherness' of our brethren to the east, Seeker."

"Huh?"

"Lemme break it down, Seeker. Outsiders don't get how East Siders go through life with a chip on their shoulder. To be an East Sider means harboring deep suspicions that other parts of town are getting more than their fair share and, by default, leaving less for the east side. Less investment, less respect, less infrastructure."

"Ohhh," said The Seeker, "I get it! Discussions about possible arena sites are clouded by East Siders' congenital doubts, right? And we can't seem to separate the issue of location from the sensibilities of the people who occupy one of the locations?"

"Seeker, you have truly seen the light! Hey, you ever thought about being a consultant?"



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