B y J e f f S m i t h
THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE sometimes results in doing the undoable, which--after protracted periods of hand-wringing and dire soothsaying in the manner of Chicken Little--now and again winds up a winner.
A perfect example lies in the recent approval by Tucson voters of Proposition 200, which at its bottom line more or less tells the world the Central Arizona Project was a dumb idea that never should have been manifested in concrete. What it actually said was the City of Tucson water utility can't deliver CAP water to local users simply by dumping a lot of chemicals into it. Some of the assumptions behind Prop 200 are pretty bogus and laughable--like the bland assertion by Ed Moore that we're sitting over a lake of groundwater that is more than sufficient to our needs--but still, given the overall anarchic tone of the thing, I have to like it.
I said quite a long time ago that we ought to just abandon the whole horrible idea of running the Colorado River dry just to deliver bad water in a wasteful manner to desert cities that don't know when to quit growing. But of course they ignored me and built the damn ditch anyway, and now that we've got it we can see how dumb it was to begin with and we no longer want it, but we can't just wish it away. Ergo, Prop 200.
Ergo the City of Tucson has a mess on its hands deciding how to implement Prop 200 and not lose its allocation of CAP water.
Which brings me to the subject of professional football.
I was up in Flagstaff visiting my buddy Jones over the past weekend, and in between rented cowboys and Indians videos, we chanced to catch the ball scores. As expected, the Cardinals managed once again to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In overtime.
Which prompted Jones to observe the Cardinals organization has a lot of damn gall, sporting a 3-7 record and badgering the taxpayers and ticket-buyers of Arizona to build them a new stadium to play in.
Any Arizonan of average intelligence would arrive at the same conclusion, but Jones is not your average Arizonan. He is the janitor at Northern Arizona University, in addition to which he's real smart. The former gives him direct contact with the Cardinals and the latter gives meaning to that contact. The Cardinals train at NAU prior to the exhibition season. Jones knows these people and has little use for them. Gene Stallings and Joe Bugel, both former head coaches with little success and egos to match, Jones liked. Buddy Ryan, the current coach, is a bigger loser than either Stallings or Bugel, and is a horse's butt to boot, Jones says.
But the biggest horse's ass of all is Bill Bidwell, the Cards' owner, who brought the franchise to Phoenix, set the highest pricing schedule in the NFL, ignored everybody outside of the Phoenix metro area, compiled one of the worst records in football, and throughout all this continually kvetched about having to play in a college stadium.
Like almost everyone associated with professional sports, Bidwell is breathing the methane-rich atmosphere of his own lower GI tract. Money means nothing to these people as long as it's flowing into their personal accounts and somebody else is doing the pumping. Bidwell wants a stadium with a roof over it and an artificial indoor environment. Like a shopping mall. Air-conditioned and probably carpeted with Astroturf.
And it may surprise you to learn I think he should get what he wants. Almost.
We the voters and taxpayers of rural Arizona--and by this I mean everyone outside of Phoenix--should pony up the cash to build Bidwell and the pathetic Cardinal football team the house they've been whining for...
...subject to a couple of smallish provisos. We'll need to get up a petition and put the issue on a statewide general election ballot. I suggest we call it Proposition 201, the logical sequitur to Prop 200, lately adopted in Tucson.
What Prop 201 would do is build a football field and bleachers sufficient to the anticipated attendance at Cardinals home games--two or three thousand seats should handle the crowd--with skyboxes and VIP suites so Bidwell and his buddies can get drunk and feel up the cheerleaders out of sight of young and impressionable TV viewers, all under a roof and in a climate-controlled environment.
But not--and here's where it all ties in to the CAP and our local problem with Proposition 200--air-conditioned. What we have here, and what they have in even greater abundance in Phoenix, after all, is a dry heat. So I propose we buy and build for Bidwell & Co. the biggest mother-humper of a swamp cooler in the whole world. Set it on top of Cardinal Stadium. Make it just like the one Tom Beal writes about cleaning and re-painting on the roof of his house every summer...
...and run Tucson's allocation of CAP water through it. It might as well evaporate there as in the ditch across the desert or in some stupid lake outside of Tucson.
The only other concession I would extract from Bidwell is that he change the name of the franchise back from the Arizona Cardinals to the Phoenix Cards.
Fife Symington and Evan Mecham have been enough embarrassment to us already.
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