If there's one message to take away from the (very unscientific) poll I posted Thursday about the leasing of city-owned parking, it's that readers are incredibly passionate in both their support and opposition of a new downtown sports arena.
As of 1 p.m. Friday, when I closed voting, those who want to lease downtown parking operations to help fund an arena had out-voted those who want the city to hold onto its parking assets. I suspect some people voted numerous times on all sides, which speaks to the emotions swirling around this issue.
In all, 4,116 votes were tallied - by far the largest response to a poll on this blog. Of those, 2,251 supported leasing parking operations to help fund an arena. City officials said that such an agreement could generate up to $200 million toward the $387 million project.
On the other hand, 1,827 votes were cast for holding onto the parking assets. Clearly, many people have reservations with the plan and I imagine most of those concerns stem from the fact that parking operations contribute $9 million toward the city's general fund each year.
It should be mentioned that several members of the City Council have said they will not vote for an arena funding plan that puts the general fund at risk. That means arena proponents need to come up with $9 million annually to backfill the general fund, should parking operations be leased to a private operator.
The other poll responses got little to no support. Two dozen votes were cast for leasing parking operations to fund basic city services, 14 voters want the money to pay for upgrades to the city's water and sewer system and no one supports the idea of using parking money to build a museum.
Again, this was a totally unscientific poll and one that will not be cited on this blog to show support or opposition for the arena. But watching the responses increase by the minute sure was fun. Thanks for voting.