Monday, October 22, 2012

Morning Midway: Ringling Venice Arena Off the Demolition Block -- for Now

Tito Gaona must be flying high today, well, in his mind. His great dream of turning the Venice arena into some kind of a circus museum got a lifeline from the Venice City Council, which this week, as reported in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, "took a big step toward allowing preservation of the former circus arena north of the Circus Bridge when it pulled $250,000 in demolition costs out of the budget."

This grants Gaona's restoration group "some breathing room."

Mayor Ed Martin sounded still skeptical of the cause. The Circus Foundation has failed to fund its admirable if highly impractical goals. To former Ringling pros, the site holds great sentimental value. To others, what exactly? And why another spangled walk-through when they've got the extravagantly funded Ringling juggernaut up the road? Gaona has been at it for seven years. Only $30,000 has been raised to date; much much more is needed.

"They are giving us a chance," said Gaona. First priority is to repair a roof that leaks.

The tasks ahead are daunting. As required by Federal law, the operation, whatever it might turn out to be, would have to be a revenue producer for the airport fund because it sits on airport property.

Mayor Martin was impressed by the 200 people who appeared on a hot day, ready and willing to pull weeds. "It deserves as much latitude as we can give."

Beyond that, Tito's dream remains, if I understand the situation, a fragile fantasy. How many circus museums can this country sustain? And pardon me for asking, but is Venice, Florida a destination?

Sorry to sound so skeptical.

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