Nearly 7,400 people voted Tuesday in favor of the local sales tax option that will generate revenue for a new sports facility, as well as some major expansion work at the MERIT Center. Both, we all have been told, will spur economic development and will draw people to Marshall from near and far.
We hope that's more than hot air. Only time will tell.
The community of Marshall, by voting in favor on the two questions, has made a major investment that will hopefully pay off. That's saying a lot, considering that as much as we're told the recession is over, money is tight for many people. We knew organizers of the "vote yes" campaign would be all in on election night, but they didn't make up the entire pro-vote population, and it would be interesting to know how many people who weren't part of the campaign voted for the sales tax options. Surely, it was a significant number, and those are the people who are taking a real chance. Those are the ones who have put their faith in city leaders and the people behind the effort to get a sports facility built.
Give credit to those who worked to educate the public and push their message this summer and fall. It was an aggressive campaign and one that really paid off. Since they don't have to go back to the drawing board, the people in that group must now take it upon themselves to keep the pedal down on the sports facility project, but they also must keep their "investors" involved and in the loop. And they also must be 100 percent sure of their plan. We have seen other sports facilities in Minnesota encounter rough financial waters - this one needs to go smoothly.
It's OK for those behind the push to build a new sports facility to sit back and take a breather for now, celebrate their victory, but the campaign must continue - not in Marshall, but at the state level. The prospect of getting help from the state in the form of bonding dollars is brighter now than it ever has been, and if making yet another sales pitch to the Legislature is what they have to do to secure that funding, then they need to do it with even more desire, more passion. Thanks to the community of Marshall, the ones who made what they might very well deem a difficult personal choice, at least the project's leaders now have a major card to play with in St. Paul.