Mayor Jay - This one's for you

Friday, May 24, 2002

Now that Cape Girardeau's new mayor has weathered his first storm of public opinion, it's only fitting that he should get a decent initiation from yours truly.

As former Mayor Al learned during his eight years at the city's helm, I sometimes find myself faced with the necessity of writing my column on the spur of the moment and without a lot of time for deep thought.

The answer in times like this is simple:

There's always the mayor.

So, new Mayor Jay, this is your baptism by words. Not just ordinary, everyday words, but pithy, thought-provoking, under-the-skin words.

What's that, Mayor Jay? You say "pithy" isn't the word you have in mind?

You know what? You may have a point there.

Be that as it may, I've given some thought to what Mayor Jay's big project for the next four years should be.

Mayor Al, you'll recall, took a full eight years to give in to my never-ending harangue about the World Famous Downtown Golf Course. He finally managed to issue an official proclamation on his very last day in office -- when he knew impeachment wouldn't matter.

When Mayor Jay won the election last month, I immediately tried to think of ways to keep the World Famous Downtown Golf Course going with him in the big chair at City Hall. But once your golf course has been officially declared as the city's very own honorary golf course, the air is pretty much knocked out of those sails.

Besides, even though Mayor Jay participates in an occasional round of golf with the same gusto with which he seems to tackle everything -- including what to order for lunch, it's a plain fact that he's no poster child for golf.

What Cape Girardeau doesn't have yet -- which means, therefore, that it desperately needs it -- is a downtown sports arena -- preferably domed -- erected at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.

We shouldn't be down in the dumps about this sports-arena deficiency. So far, St. Louis fans have only managed to wrangle a domed football emporium out of the good people of the Show Me State, having just failed -- again -- to get a new downtown baseball stadium.

Likewise, Kansas City fans will have to continue to pay their own way -- for now -- for any improvements to that city's side-by-side baseball and football stadiums.

The problem, of course, for both St. Louis and Kansas City was all those negative-minded outstaters who continue to moan and groan about how decent rural folk shouldn't have to bankroll filthy rich owners of professional big-city sports teams.

That's where the owners of the Cardinals and the Royals and the Chiefs went wrong. They made this whole deal into a gimme for the big cities. Naturally, if you're not from the big city, you're against whatever the big city wants. That's the way we rednecks are. We don't want big-city traffic or big-city crime or big-city taxes or big-city smells. We have our own roundabouts, street riots, sales taxes and sewer problems.

So here's what I suggest.

If the owners of the Cardinals want a new ballpark and the support of us rubes, they need to become Mayor Jay's best buddies. That's where they went wrong. They thought Governor Bob was the key. Or Senator Pete. But it's Mayor Jay and his counterparts all over Missouri who can unlock this standoff.

First, you start with a plan to give us barnyard bowlers a bone or two. Something like our very own weathertight field house -- which, of course, will be constructed right after the big-city needs are met. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

So what would we do with a downtown arena with a roof?

Let's see. What would Mayor Jay like? I've got it. The World Famous Downtown Hockey Arena (and All-You-Can-Eat Lutefisk Buffet).

There you have it. Another problem solved. And another column in the bag.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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