|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Republican Party's convention site is creating an awkward reality at odds with the conservative media mythology that is at the center of the convention's theme.
In recent days, Fox News has praised Republicans for adopting "We Built It" as a theme for its upcoming convention. "We Built It" is based on the Fox-fueled distortion of President Obama's remarks tying the success of businesses to "this unbelievable American System" that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.
However, the selection of the Republican convention site actually proves President Obama's point about the role of government assistance. The construction of the Tampa Bay Times Forum was majority financed by the public; the arena is owned by local government; and the Republican convention has received tens of millions in government funds to help with costs and security.
Republican Convention Site: Publicly Financed, Publicly Owned
Republicans will host their 2012 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was majority financed by the public.
The Forum was built in 1996 by the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which was created as a public agency in 1965 for the purpose of "planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive complex of sports and recreational facilities" in the area. According to the Authority's 2011 financial statements, the Forum is actually owned by Hillsborough County, which then leases it back to the Authority. This step was taken specifically to avoid the inclusion of the arena on the county's tax rolls.
Reports on the actual cost of construction are inconsistent, ranging from $139 million to $162 million [Tampa Tribune, 8/17/97, via Nexis]. But the Forum was reportedly majority-financed using more than $80 million in city and county bonds backed in part by taxes, with additional funding from the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team.