We’re excited about the possibility of a convention center — or “multipurpose events center” as it’s now being called — coming to Greenville.

This city is just starting to see sparks of development that have the potential for improving the quality of life for all Hunt County residents by making a wider variety of shopping and entertainment options available, not to mention boosting our tax rolls to take some financial burden off local homeowners. Properly managed development is a good thing.

And this proposed events center could be a catalyst for bringing major improvements to the county. Other cities across America have seen their publicly financed arenas become a hub of building activity that brings prosperity to what might otherwise be financially languishing areas. Certainly Greenville could use this kind of economic boost.

But as thrilled as we are to imagine concerts, hockey games, rodeos and other events attracting visitors and their wallets to Hunt County, we should also be cautious about what steps the city and county take toward making this dream a reality.

Despite the wide-eyed optimism of people who want to build an exciting facility here, no convention center is a sure-fire success.

America is dotted with cities large and small that have sunk millions of dollars into similar convention centers and sports arenas that never became as successful as their backers envisioned. They paid huge up-front construction costs and incurred eye-popping ongoing expenses for maintenance and operations, all for a facility that would eventually sit empty, night after night. Long after the sports team that anchored it left town, these cities are still stuck paying huge bills for a building that’s rarely used at its full capacity. The initial excitement turns into bitter finger-pointing and shame over the pricey mistake.

There are also plenty of success stories where a public stadium or convention center creates long-lasting, positive financial benefits. Both the successes and failures need to be examined closely before Greenville makes such an important decision.

We should also be skeptical about using an all-in-one developer to manage so many aspects of the project, from the arena’s construction to the sports team it houses and the real estate development that surrounds it. Using Global Entertainment’s expertise may indeed be the most cost-effective way to bring the complete project to fruition, but it may also place the profit-centered interests of a private company at odds with public needs. City leaders would be wise to closely explore other options for every facet of the planned development before making their decision on which company or companies will execute the plan.

It’s exciting to see such a big, grand facility being discussed for Greenville. We think it could eventually be one of the success stories where the construction of an arena marked the turning point for an entire region.

Let’s just be careful that our emotion doesn’t override our logic.

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