Saturday, June 9, 2007

Castle's Days Numbered

Panel plans for stadium demolition
Would be gone in ’09 if Wizards move downtown
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/news/local/17346682.htm

"Mac Parker, Coliseum board president, told the Allen County commissioners Friday that Coliseum officials expect to complete two construction projects in 2009. Those proposed projects include renovating the almost 20-year-old exposition center and tearing down Memorial Stadium, where the Fort Wayne Wizards play, to expand the parking lot."

"[Nelson] Peters said all possible uses of the stadium should be explored, and he suggested creating another committee to find someone who wants or needs to use the stadium."

"Officials are waiting to make sure that plans for the proposed downtown city-owned stadium move forward. And Brown wants to ensure the stadium would open in time for the beginning of the 2009 season and that the Wizards have a place to play."

"Officials believe that it would cost about $2.2 million to demolish the stadium, pave the land for parking and possibly add retention ponds. The Coliseum will use revenue from the professional sports and convention development fund to pay for the project, he said. The fund allows the Coliseum to collect income tax revenue from employees at the Coliseum, sales tax generated there, plus any food or beverage taxes."

Plans under way for tearing down stadium
2009 demolition foreseen when Wizards move downtown
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/news/local/17347323.htm

"Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters is uncomfortable with the idea that Memorial Stadium might be torn down and asked Memorial Coliseum officials at the commissioners meeting Friday morning to consider a final brainstorming effort to find ways to reuse the stadium."

"Commissioner Linda Bloom said the company hired to study other uses of the current stadium came up with some alternatives, but thought the new downtown stadium could be used for those same activities, making the two stadiums compete."

25 comments:

John B. Kalb said...

What a damn waste! This is 21st Century progress? The stupidity of our elected city officals is unbelievable! Our forefathers (& foremothers) are rolling in their graves. John B. Kalb

Jeff Pruitt said...

John,

I agree it's a shame but we lost the Harrison Square battle. The best thing to do now is not to continue to waste more money by propping up a 2nd stadium that can't support itself. We've already had 2 different committees/consultants tell us there is no cost-effective use for Memorial Stadium.

It's time to demolish it...

Scott said...

The only reason our forefathers and mothers would be rolling in their graves is because Fort Wayne decided to get smart about it's downtown and stop the stupidity of the status quo. I am tired of listening to nay sayers in this town bad mouth a project because don't come up with an alternative. Memorial Stadium was a hastily designed project without any thought to economic growth. Sometimes progress means righting a bad decision. So Mr. Kalb what are your plans? But just like all the idiots in this town, you probably don't have any.

John B. Kalb said...

Scott - No one in Fort Wayne, or in this country for that matter, had any chance to input an alternative to the baseball stadium. No one other than Hardball Capital was asked to propose anything other than a baseball stadium. So what chance did we have to input an alternative? Other items were suggested but the blinders were on - only a baseball stadium would be involved - Sam T., Jr. told me that 4 months ago. And Jeff, I don't agree that the opposition has lost - THEY DO NOT HAVE A SINGLE ITEM IN WRITING ON THIS BOONDOGGLE other than the purchase of the land and buildings - and there they still have nothing in writing from Lincoln yet. They asked 5 groups to bid on the hotel - didn't get a single bid to their spec. - Did get one proposal for a smaller, second-class hotel and then only having to ask the money-losing Grand Wayne Center into pledging $5 million from it's future public dole (66% of the G.W. Center yearly income is from taxes - not from any billing of users. I still do not believe that Richard & company can get this done without another large confrontation with our Common Council. John B. Kalb

tim said...

Hey John, where were you when meeting after meeting was held the last couple of years asking the citizens of the community for their input on what they wanted to see downtown? I wasn't able to attend any of them personally but was fully aware that they were held.
If this isn't community input, I don't know what is. The current Memorial Stadium is functional but has not an ounce of ambiance. I'd like to think that we in Fort Wayne can strive for something really first class rather than always just settling for status quo (Oh, I forgot....that's YOUR middle name!)
Your negativity does NOTHING for the good of our fair community. What's that old saying.....'one bad apple spoils the whole bunch?'

John B. Kalb said...

Tim - We were involved in these "input" opportunities but they were just that "input only". Our suggestions did not involve enough money to make it worth wile to our city administration - so Richard appointed a series of "loaded" committees so that his ideas were the only possible outcome ( "Baseball Plus" to investigate IF we should pursue a new stadium - what outcome did he want - read his lips!).
Fort Wayne has been a very great place to live but if the changes planned are pursued, we will be like all the overextended, overtaxed, "entertain me" cities that are gaining freeloaders and losing sturdy citizens in this county. How can a city plan commission continue to approve the multitude of new shopping centers in the outskirts of our city but then preach that we need to "rebuild downtown"? The new shopping centers are being financed by private money but the only way they say we can rebuild downtown is with tax receipts. Isn't something wrong here? John B. Kalb

Joe said...

John, the new ballpark is ONE project...albeit large, in ONE part of downtown. Why don't you start getting involved with other things, like the North River development or try to start a committee on riverfront development?

On a different note, many people ripping this project are also ripping Mayor Richard for various reasons. I would like to say I recently was in South Bend (drove up 31 into downtown), and Fort Wayne is in MUCH better shape than that city! There were several abandoned builings, awful looking homes, unmowed grass and out of control weeds all over, etc. I also recently read an article about how Indy has 8000 abandoned homes in the city! I applaud Mayor Richard for his efforts to beautify our city and create projects to have more entertainment too. Not just the ballpark, but Southtown Centre, the new 400 home housing development being built on the Southeast side, etc. I only hope our next mayor can keep this momentum going! If your worried about projects taking more money out of your pocket, well sometimes you have to pay for nice things. People in FW really have no clue how low our taxes are in comparsion to other places!

John B. Kalb said...

Joe - I worked the Indiana German Heritage Society booth at the Germanfest last week - talked with over 100 people about what a "wonderbar" place we have for this festival in Headwaters Park, about other plans for development of our downtown area, moving the Wizards home to Harrison Square and generally, why they chose to live in Fort Wayne. Not one person was in favor of a new baseball stadium! Based on this group, our citizens DO realize the lower cost of living in our city, compared to their previous location. The only item mentioned was the excise tax required to be paid to enable purchase of plates for our cars - they did not realize that, say in New York state, you pay this tax with your state income tax.
I would be ok (not necessarily happy) with paying more in taxes to help finance the building of something we don't already have - Memorial Stadium is a castl, not a palace - all the Wizards need is a castle - they are not royalty - none of us are with the possible exception of "King Richard the Tax-Hearted".
As to your drive into South Bend, have you driven into downtown Fort Wayne from the west on Jefferson Blvd. lately? Empty lots, a strip club, vacant Dimension Ford lots, large billboards, then Swinney Park and the "Welcome to Fort Wayne" flower bed and then into the West Central neighborhood. Not much different than coming into South Bend.
As far as Southtown Centre - have you driven the 20 square block area around it recently? The boarded-up Target strip mall, the empty storefronts in the K-Mart plaza, et al - the "catalyst" doesn't seem to be working - witness the announced move of Great Clips from Southgate to Southtown Centre - a real commercial gain - close up & move to a new "tax-payer-financed" area which ernds up as a negative gain since the property taxes paid by the leasor at Southtown will go into the fund to pay off the costs there instead of paying for the support of our schools, our libraries, city salaries, fire & police pensions, et al
If our new mayor "keeps up the momentum" this area will join our MicroStandard, Downtown Hilton, Burlington Air Freight, Midtowne Crossing, et al fiascos of the recent past - are you aware that at the last meeting of our Redevelopment Commission, they were asked, and approved, a resolution to transfer money from one of their discresionary accounts so that Pat Roller could pay invoices covering items for the Safety Academy at Southtown because " the city-owned land in the project was not being purchased by developers as planned". So Fort Wayne now owns a lot of land which they have been unable to sell and will probably have to give it away as incentives to developers in the future. ONCE TAX DOLLARS ARE MADE AVAILABLE, ALL KINDS OF MARGINAL PROPOSALS BECOME FEASIBLE !
The 400 home development in the near southeast area - are you aware that the St. Peters school building being rebuilt into housing for the elderly has hit a snag - they can't find older people that can afford to(or want to) live there. This is right in the area you are talking about - just where are the people who want to live in this urban area going to come from? Is this another Fort Wayne Dream (or nightmare)?
John B. Kalb

Joe said...

John, as far as the stadium, and the people you talked to, were they aware that nobody else had come forward with any other downtown project? Who knows how long it may have taken for another project to be developed and implemented. Your statement about the stadium being a "castle" and not needing to be a "palace"... actually right now I'd classify the stadium as a "barn" and the "palace" you are referring to is actually on par with what other minor league teams are building for stadiums. But,now is the time for those people to get involved with the North River ideas, and possible Riverfront development.
With respect to the drive into downtown on Jefferson, yeah it's not the best in the world, but my SB drive was still 10 times worse. The area still has some bright spots though...ASH centre (formerly known as Tahcumwah), the community pool there, the bowling alley, and the Swinney tennis courts are being renovated.
As for Southtown Centre and surrounding area, give it some more time, Rome wasn't built in a day. If in 5 years it is still in the same shape, then you have an argument. With your quote about paying for schools, are you planning on signing the Yellow Petition then?
And lastly as for the elderly portion of the Southeast development, hopefully they can find some more buyers. But I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of the 400 home development is meant for the average middle aged buyer. Let's just wait and see if these homes will be purchased before panicking.

John B. Kalb said...

Joe - No, I am signing a blue form because it is just the divertion of property taxes to pay public money on what should be private investment that causes entities like FWCS to have to resort to bond issues that are out-of-sight in size to fund necessary repairs when they are required - not in such a massive amount. Years ago, at the insistance of the Fort Wayne Education Association(labor union),our FWCS board asked and got an OK from the state to use money from the designated capital fund to help with operating expenses - ergo - we now have a problem - well duh! John B. Kalb

tim said...

Joe, I agree with you about the drive in to South Bend on US 31. I moved back here in 1998 from South Bend. That whole stretch was bad then and is far worse now. We don't have any route into Fort Wayne as bad as that.
John, it's interesting that you, Councilman Smith, Nelson Peters, Matt Kelty, etc. happen to always run into the majority that are "against Harrison Square." Where were these whiners when they had a chance to speak publicly this spring? I was at all but one of the meetings and the overwhelming majority of those that made the effort to show up and speak were in favor of the project. Are we also surprised that you will be signing a blue petition for FWCS (did we even have to ask?!)
And, on the matter of Southtown redevelopment, how can anyone say that what has happened out there has not been a good thing?! Five years ago we had a boarded up shopping mall and little going on out there. That truly WAS our "scab" as anyone drove into town from that direction. It's far, far different today. I guess my question to you would be, why don't you just move? I think it would be a "win-win" for all of us.

Tim

John B. Kalb said...

Tim - Just why did you move back to Fort Wayne in 1998? I'm sure the lack of a baseball stadium downtown did not stop you. What was it that brought you back? Maybe your answer will help some of us understand where you are coming from on this proposal. (And, Tim, I plan to stay in Fort Wayne until the Lord takes me home so why in heavens namewould I want to move?) John B. Kalb

Scott said...

The comment "Rome wasn't build in a day" is definitely a great example of the impatience of the nay sayers of this project. They want development and they want it now and they want the returns NOW. So they poo poo any project that won't give them those immediate returns. As someone who works with investments I always tell clients to invest long term because that is where you make the real money. Short term gains are great but it is long term that we want. So if you are upset with Southtown because it hasn't done what was planned just wait and be patient. It has only been open close to a year. Just wait and see what will happen in 5 - 10 years.

This is just like Harrison Square. The likelihood of it paying off in 2009 or 2010 is ridiculous. It won't happen and I don't expect it to. I will expect some gains by 2019. And it might not work, I think we all have to admit that. However, we must take the risk. It can grow the Fort economically, it has the potential. However the "Castle" has no potential for economic improvement to the area. It is a concrete building surrounded by a asphalt moat. No brick, no ambiance and no real reason to go. It is not a compelling experience.

In my experience people like nice things. They like to go to nice places and eat at nice restaurants. People don't spend much time in Death Valley. However they do enjoy southern CA for it beauty and the experience that they have there. People are looking for an experience and that is something that MS cannot offer them. Besides don't you think the people of Fort Wayne deserve great and not just mediocre? Why should the people always have to settle for second best? I think we deserve better.

John B. Kalb said...

Scott - Your comment, "we must take the risk" - can you back this up with some facts, please. How in the H. will the baseball stadium "grow the Fort"? We will be only transfering a place for a minor league baseball team to entertain those interested in baseball to another location! The Castle was built to give the team which ended up being named "The Wizards" a place to play baseball -so the individual players would gain skills & for Fort Wayne baseball fans to enjoy watching our national passtime being played by up-and-coming young pros.
Based on many, many economists, pro sports stadiums financed by taxes DO NOT RETURN ANY ECONOMIC BENEFITS to the political entity. See: Coats & Humphreys,"The Growth Effects of Sport Franchises Stadia and Arenas", "The Stadium Gambit and Local Economic Development", "The Effects of Professional Sports on Earnings and Employment in the Retail and Service Sectors of U.S. Cities", "Professional Sports Facilities, Franchises and Urvban Development": Humphreys " The Myth of Sports-Led Economic Development"; Zimbalist, "The Economics of Sports, Vol.2; Matteson, "An Examination of Sports Event Economic Impact Studies"; Noll and Zimbalist, "The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Facilities"; Rosentraub, "Sport and Downtown Development Strategy"; et al. All of these studies conclude that NO ECONOMIC BENEFIT RESULTS FROM CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW STADIUM !
I assume that you are aware that Fort Wayne, again, is on the tail end of progress -the new Giants Stadium was built with all private investment - the new St. Louis Cards stadium stated out to be 100% public financed but ended up 100% private(due to a taxpayer revolt), the new stadium in Midland, MI was built without public money - et al. This is the present trend but Hardball Capital is trying to get in on the tail-end of what has been an overall loser for all cities that bit on the false premise of "build it and the taxpayers will fund it".
Scott - I am really glad that you will soon be rejoining the realistic-thinking Midwest! Maybe, after a few years back here (not in a day), your thinking will return to something rational again - when the "Big Apple Effect" wears off.
John B. Kalb

Scott said...

Seeing as I have not read these, which one's have to do with smaller economies and minor league sports. To my understanding when we think of "pro" we do not think of the Wizards. Most people think of the Cubs, et al. Also which of these new stadiums was just a stadium project and which also encompassed a hotel, condominiums and retail space?

The next question is, which could be worse? Thinking big "Big Apple view" or thinking small as in your New Haven view?

Scott said...

"Scott - Your comment, 'we must take the risk' - can you back this up with some facts, please. How in the H. will the baseball stadium 'grow the Fort'?"

I hope you understand what risk is. According to Citibank's website higher risk is usually associated with the potential for higher long-term rates of return. You do this by investing in things that could cause you to lose money. There is no silver bullet. There is no one thing that is going to change Fort Wayne. To take Indy as an example, to turn the economy around takes multiple and disciplined investing. We started with Headwaters park. Now we are going to Harrison Square. Next to the North River project. These are all very encouraging signs of economic growth potential. We aren't stacking in on one project. I am very encouraged. And honestly you should be too. If you can take your head out of your rear and stop thinking we should be like New Haven.

John B. Kalb said...

Scott -
The articles that I listed are briefly:
One - covers amoung others, the 1991 "non-construct" of a stadium in Fort Wayne for use by the Wausau Timbers - Fort Wayne had offered the owners of the team a $1.2 million, 6.48%, 15 year loan with the understanding that the team would come up with the other $750,000 required. The team was not able to find a finacial institution to loan them this amount, so nothing happened.
Two - Another of these compared the increase (or decrease) in "Downtown" employment in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Louisville,Cincinatti,Dayton,Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio and found a decrease in downtown employment in all except Indianapolis after introduction of a new base ball stadium.
Three: Another compared retail and service pay scales prior to and after a new stadium was built - using data on 53,052 individuals in hotels, food service and retail in 37 U.S. cities. Only the retail pay scales increased by an average of $50.00 per year. The others decreased by an average of $40.00 per year.
I believe this is a good cross-section and includes our minor league cities in the midwest. I could find nothing covering "mixed use" projects, since this is a brand new term being pushed by the proponents - so I wouild guess that this makes the whole thing more risky - which is probably why Hardball is proposing no input to the cost of the stadium (their $5 million will come from the sale of the state tax vouchers)and saying that the their investment in the condos and retail will come after the stadium is built - why are we not suprised?
By the way, what do you have against New Haven?
John B. Kalb

John B. Kalb said...

Scott- How can you, with a straight face, classify Headwaters Park as an example of economic growth? Is this another of the Big Apple way of thinking? John B. Kalb

Joe said...

John, looks like you have done your reading on this subject, and I'm sure all of those "studies" lean negatively toward construction of a new downtown stadium. My question to you is, do you seriously think that referring to studies in the past can make you predict the future?? The reality is, these types of projects are judged successful/unsuccessful on a case by case basis, and it may take years to really be able to judge the HS project.

John B. Kalb said...

Joe - look at our city's record! MicroStandard, Burlington Air Freight, The Downtown Hilton, Midtowne Crossing, the "secret dealings" of our Redevelopment Department, the illegal use of funds to purchase property(the end justifies the means?), et al. Tell us something that has gone the way it was supposed to go -and don't give me Southtown Centre - it is no where close to finished.
On what basis can we make any judgements? The city still does not have ANY financial details - if they had, they would be trumpeting them loudly. I think they have serious problems that will finally be settled in the Common Council and this thing will NOT GET OFF THE GROUND - and again the City of Fort Wayne will look like they don't know what they are doing - which may be true. John B. Kalb

Scott said...

John,
Headwaters Park in my view can be classified as economic growth because it promotes the city as a place of beauty that has some class. Not everything that benefits a community is buildings. Besides what was there before was dank and dingy. Car lots and such. What we have there now is beautiful and is a spot for people to congrigate at and have fun. It has gives a wonderful place to hold the festivals therefore increasing the economic output of Fort Wayne. Or will at least of the potential to when more stuff is built there. Indy built a canal, we built a park. I think it's a nice touch to downtown.

Oh and by the way. One of the condo project will be built at the same time as the ballpark. It is phases 2 and 3 that are dependent on what happens in the area.

Tom S said...

John,

I'm getting tired of you labeling Midtowne a failure. I have owned several condos and served as board president since 1990. All residential units have been privately owned since 1992 as have the vast majority of commercial units on the first floor. Yes, the origional developer went bankrupt but it was Summit Bank, not the city who then took over for the developer. Those of us who bought and put our money where our mouths are take offense to your comments regarding Midtowne. I strongly believe in downtown redevelopement and I hate to think what the block Midtowne now occupies would look like if it wasn't for this property. I would be glad to give you and any other critic of Midtowne a tour.

Tom

scott said...

Can I get a tour of Midtowne, or is it only for the critics? :)

Tom S said...

I'll give anyone a tour. This week is out due to a hectic schedule but sometime next week would work.

Joe said...

I'm still wondering how John is classifying Midtowne as a boondoggle. Last time I checked it was almost 100% capacity. Yeah what a disappointment that place ended up being.