As I write my column, negotiations on the construction of a new arena are still taking place. By the time you read this, a decision may have been made.

It’s not an easy one. In fact, this may be one of the most important decisions I will make while on the council.

At a recent town hall meeting, a constituent asked: Why should I care whether the Mavericks and the Stars have a new arena? I don’t go to their games.

My response was: Even if you have never set foot in Reunion Arena, you’ve benefited from it.

Last year, $74 million was spent inside the building, and patrons spent another $15 million in Dallas restaurants, bars and hotels.

More than 2,200 full-time job equivalents are related to this activity. In addition, the City receives direct tax benefits of about $1.2 million per year from sales tax, alcoholic beverage tax and hotel/motel tax. Add to that the $5 million the City receives in annual payments of rent, parking revenues and our share of concessions, and the direct impact on Dallas becomes even clearer.

Even after subtracting our operating expenses, we still make money on the arena.

Does this mean that I plan to support building a new arena? I don’t know yet. But when I do make my decision, I will do so with the full knowledge that the sports franchises are a tremendous asset to the City of Dallas and particularly to Downtown.

They generate activity that supports increased private investment in the central City. Their presence causes the creation of jobs.

So if you thought the only ones who would benefit from a new arena are the sports franchises, think again.

This decision is important to all of us.

P.S.

The Council will finalize a list of projects for the bond election this month. Please make sure you let us know what you think should be included.

Mark Your Calendar

Lake Highlands Republican Women’s Club and area Homeowners’ Associations will host a mayoral candidates forum March 22 at 7 p.m. in the Lake Highlands High School Students Center.

Henry Tatum, editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, will serve as moderator. Don’t let others tell you how to vote. Plan to attend, and make your own decisions.