A new basketball arena for the University of Akron — paid for with tax dollars — is an absurd idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that Akron doesn’t need a new arena.
The current James A. Rhodes Arena only sells out once during the regular season. Additionally, the arena provides the players with a terrific locker room, complete with amenities such as leather furniture and flat-screen television.
The sound system and scoreboard have been updated. One logical improvement might be the seating, which UA could accomplish for less than $76 million.
I am appalled that our city leaders explained that their proposed arena plan gained momentum after a visit to Omaha, where they viewed the city’s arena/convention center. Our leaders would like to emulate Omaha. The only problem with this plan is we don’t have the tax revenue to do so.
Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska, with a population, according to 2010 census, of 408,958, compared to Akron, which is the fifth largest city in Ohio, with a population, according to the same census, of 199,110.
Omaha is headquarters for five Fortune 500 companies and five Fortune 1,000 companies. Akron, by comparison, is headquarters for two Fortune 500 companies.
When our leaders have persuaded eight more of these large companies to move to Akron, which would increase our available jobs and tax revenue, then I’ll agree we should imitate Omaha.
Until then, city leaders should use available tax dollars to fix the sewer system, improve streets and increase city police and fire personnel. Until then, citizens should vote against any tax increases for university improvements.
Her voice will be missed
It was with great sadness that I read of the end of Laura Ofobike’s run as chief editorial writer (“Battling the agents of backwardness,” May 6). As a regular subscriber for many years, I looked forward each week to her sensitive, insightful and informative columns.
Her columns about social justice issues, education, women’s and children’s issues and the effects of poverty were always balanced, thoughtful, thought-provoking and research-based.
I especially remember a column she wrote a few years ago on the eve of Thanksgiving (“For peace and other gifts,” Nov. 20, 2012). Her thoughts on gratitude touched me so deeply that I shared the column with my extended family.
I will miss her eloquence and concern for those who don’t have a voice. I wish her the best in her future endeavors.
Forefront of collaboration
Over the years, I have witnessed the University of Akron transform itself on many levels. We now have a beautiful, integrated campus that has opened the door to a more community-friendly institution. The public now benefits from UA’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, James A. Rhodes Arena, InfoCision Stadium, Hower House and more.
Yet there is another important aspect of UA that deserves to be recognized. The university is at the forefront of collaboration.
The university has numerous partnerships in this community, as well as regional, national and global partnerships.
Together, these efforts have been dubbed “the Akron Model” and include the Austen BioInnovation Institute, the University of Akron Research Foundation, University Park Alliance, the National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance, the Timken Engineered Surface Laboratories, the National Polymer Innovation Center and the Confucius Institute, among others.
Additional partnerships have been formed with Lorain County Community College, Stark State College, Medina County University Center and centers in Lakewood, Brunswick, Millersburg and Wayne County. Others have asked UA to share its model, among them the National Academy of Sciences, the International Economic Development Council and the Brookings Institution.
This model is a great opportunity for UA students to take advantage of “globe and gown,” not only while enrolled but also after graduation to achieve success.
No place for prayer
I disagree with the May 12 editorial “Time for prayer.” There is no need for prayer in any government meeting. The Supreme Court got it wrong. The 5-4 majority left out Americans who are nonreligious or atheist, such as me. They are about one-fourth of the population.
That is why there are national protests against “Day of Prayer’’ events, usually sponsored by extreme-right Christian groups. The citizens who sued their town in Greece, N.Y., were atheistic and Jewish, and they rightly felt out of place in an overly Christian-themed town meeting.
The four Supreme Court justices who disagreed with the conservative ruling were right to point out how other faiths and nonfaiths were treated and represented in government.
People can do what they want at home or in their places of worship, but government and public schools should be off limits for religious proselytizing. Make no mistake, prayer at any government meeting is part of the Christian version of spreading the good word.