July 22, 2022 9:00am

Stadium details are sufficient

Poll respondents see recession in the next year

Photo of Chris Vass
Chattanooga, TN Correspondent
 

The July Power Poll revealed area members are pretty darn sure of two things: first, the proposed new Lookouts stadium will steam ahead and meet the timeline set out by leading public advocates Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

And second, Power Poll members — 90% of them — think the country will face a recession in the next year.

Only time will tell if and how the latter will affect the former.

There was little ambiguity in this month’s survey, which was conducted Monday through Thursday. It was sent to 229 Power Poll members, and 90 replied for a response rate of 39%. The monthly survey gauges what influential business, civic, education and nonprofit leaders and elected officials are thinking. While the survey is not considered a scientific poll, its results offer insights into the opinions and beliefs of key decision-makers in the area.

Power Pollers indicated they are generally satisfied with the information about the South Broad Street project, which has generated lots of headlines and talk in since it was first publicly and broadly outlined in June. The mayors set out an ambitious – even aggressive — timeline to accomplish foundational elements for the project, which they have termed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform one of the ugliest parts of the city, a gateway eyesore that has long been complained about.

Overall, about 75% have some level of satisfaction with the details presented so far while a quarter are not satisfied.

When asked, “How satisfied are you with the details about the plans and financing of the proposed Lookouts Stadium on South Broad Street?” 38% said “very satisfied;” 31% said “somewhat satisfied;” 7% said “satisfied.” Almost a quarter — 24% — said they are “not satisfied.”

Franklin McCallie, a retired educator and local activist, urges public officials to take a breath.

“If you favor building the new stadium — and there are good reasons to do so — please reread Helen Burns Sharp’s commentary in the July 17 Times Free Press, “Protect taxpayers before moving ahead on stadium funding.” My best advice: rigorously follow Ms. Sharp’s suggestions.”

About the same percentages broke on whether the timeline for getting the project out of the gate would be met. When asked, “Do you think the stadium project, its tax-increment financing plan and sports authority panel will be approved before Sept. 1, 2022?” 79% said “yes” while 21% said “no.”

The county Industrial Development Board gave its approval Thursday afternoon, the first step. Read TFP staff writer Mike Pare's summary in today's paper. Interesting details, indeed.

One of the main voices calling for a slowdown in approvals is Republican county mayoral candidate Weston Wamp, who has advocated for pumping the brakes on such a significant project, and he has challenged the compressed timeline. Current County Commissioner Tim Boyd (who is not running for re-election) also has raised questions about the Lookouts stadium financing. Both Coppinger and Kelly have argued that timing is everything with such a development. With a master developer waiting in the wings and a decision on a new stadium for the Lookouts a determinant on whether the team remains in Chattanooga, now is the time to act, they assert.

The election is Aug. 4, which means almost all of the approvals for the project will be completed before a new mayor and new commissioners are sworn into office on Sept. 1.

Looming in the background, behind all of the gung-ho, let’s-go-for-it energy is the economy, which has sent mixed signals in recently months. Still, the sting of inflation is affecting everything, which has many people on edge about financial commitments heading into next year and beyond.

When asked, “How likely do you think it is that the country will face a recession in the next year? 33% said “very likely” and 58% said “somewhat likely.” Ouch.

Only 9% said “not so likely.”

And lastly, more than half of Power Poll survey respondents noted they think term limits should be considered for Supreme Court justices. With a flurry of conservative-majority opinions, the justices made headlines for weeks last month.

When asked, “Do you support putting a limit on how long a Supreme Court justice can serve?” 57% said “yes” while 43% said “no.”

Contact Chris Vass, public editor of the Times Free Press, at cvass@powerpoll.com or cvass@timesfreepress.com.

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