Sunday, June 26, 2005

Good ideas (& action) sought

Justice perhaps for staying up all night on a home improvement project and missing the charette Saturday morning:

Russ Lemmon takes me to task today over the new arena.

Yes, I've expressed my preference for an east side location consistently. I've also said that an arena would pay big dividends downtown, and that we may have better luck selling suites, naming rights, etc. with a downtown site. What we need is a successful public-private partnership - like the Mud Hens ballpark.

The Marina District, with destination retail and a new arena, will revitalize Main Street, our waterfront, and some great old neighborhoods. I speak with so many people who have interpreted the Section 79 vote as an endorsement of an east side location. East Toledo activists are as passionate about the arena as the Maumee folks were about the Mud Hens. Change is tough, especially if you feel your losing something, that other people are gaining at your expense.

And yet, the Marina District and East Toledo can be successful with or without an arena. Another good idea is to locate the arena several blocks away from the ballpark, and have restaurants, residential and commerical space develop between the two anchors.

Then there is Jim Donnelly: attach the arena to the Convention Center, and draw more conventions and expendable income to Toledo.

These are all sound, worthy ideas that would make Toledo a better place. When I get the report from the planning session Saturday I'll share it here. And tomorrow morning I'll put down the trowel and mortar at home and get back to work downtown.

8 Comments:

Blogger Lisa Renee said...

I'll be totally honest, I grew up watching the Mud Hens in Maumee, and I was not happy about the new Stadium being built downtown at all.

Those special family memories of going to see the games there with my father who is no longer with us seemed connected to the stadium in Maumee.

Then, it was built and I went alibet grudgingly the first time thinking it would not be the same. Even I had to admit our new stadium is awesome. So while my childhood memories may be of the old one, my children's memories will be of the new one.

So I can understand those who want the stadium built on the east side. They do not want to loose something they have a history with.

When this is all said and done, the ultimate goal is the same as when the Mud Hens moved to downtown, which is the best for the whole area, not just downtown or the East Side or those of us in the burbs.

Where will be the best place not only from a cost point of view but all of the other factors included as well. Is there a firm committment to building the stadium on the east side? It's obvious that is something not agreed on and should be resolved so we can move forward. The longer it takes the more it will cost, no matter where it is built.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Lisa Renee said...

umm replace "stadium" with "arena" I was experiencing "stadiumitis"

:-)

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

Ther are a lot of pros and cons for the entire idea. On the E. side of the river, new business could spawn and inject some life and improve the reputation of the surrounding neighborhoods inspiring homeowners there to invest money into their homes and increase property values and put some pride back into an area that could use it.

The con side is having Toledo's entertainment area spread too far apart from the other attractions downtown. By that, I'm saying if your group should catch a ballgame, and want to visit the marina district you have 2 choices. WALK there or try to find parking which is a hassle when there is a function going on.

The west side of the river is already established and hosts most of the main attractions that people come to attend and can walk from venue to venue in a short time. The other plus is that it could help fill the soon-to-be-empty O-I building.

Th con side of that idea is that the ideal place would be the area where the steam plant sits and the surrounding grounds. Apartments on that site are a bad idea not only for fest attendees but for tennants as well.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

1 more thing, NOBODY cares what Russ Lemmon has to say! His pieces are just page filler as far as I have ever been concerned.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sepp, you are an interesting person... Russ Who?

Ha!

Anyway, change is hard. I still get stuck being a Democrat who believes market forces should always prevail when they will not do harm. Build the arena where it makes the most fiscal sense. Toledo suffers from some approach-avoidance stuff I just do not get. Seems like we approach an idea or plan that might make Toledo even better, and then we avoid the change for political or psychological reasons. I'm progressive. Lets more forward in a responsible way, but move forward.

I miss those times I spent with my now deceased grandfather watching the Hens in Maumee too. I just cannot help to think that if he were alive today, he would be anything but ecstatic about the beautiful new stadium and the revitalization of parts of downtown. No matter what political leaning we might have we probably all agree that Toledo is more than an East, North, South, or West Side. All are important; none are successful without the success of the community as a whole

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

I'll side with Dan here.
It makes the most sense to place the marina dist where it's most likely to be used and the easiest to access. What good is an entertainment district if the attractions are flung too far apart? Another problem could arise when people would be attempting to drive impaired from one venue to another because of the distances involved. Frank and Bob should be all over Tim Gladieux like white on rice to do something with the sports arena. Our city bulldozed perfectly good houses for jeep which were in better condition than the sports arena will ever be in.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Frank,
Here's how I posted responding to this same issue on toledotalk.com. It's long, so I just cut and copied it here. Basically I say to mimic previously successful communities which definitely calls for the stadium being built downtown:


I'm new to Toledo, so I think I have a little different perspective on the location of the arena. I don't care if one side thinks they are slighted, I just want what's best for the city as a whole. Without a doubt, downtown is the best option.

Sometimes a case-study is the best way to decide what's best in a situation. Having lived in Memphis, I'll give you the case-study in Memphis. Memphis has always had an entertainment district called Beale Street on the south end of downtown. I 1990 they decide to build a new 20,000 seat arena known as the Pyramid for Univ. of Memphis basketball, a future NBA team, conventions, boxing, concerts, etc. Instead of building the arena on the south end of downtown next to the existing entertainment distric and nightspots, they built it on the north end that is basically abandoned at night because it's just office buildings. The distance b/w the Pyramid and beale St. is about 15 blocks, so no one in their right mind would walk that distance. The Pyramid opened and everyone thought that it would be enough to spur development, but 15 years later is has not. About 3 or 4 years ago Memphis opens a new baseball stadium adjacent to the existing entertainment district and it's a huge success.....moreso than the Pyramid ever was. A host of new retaurants, hotels, clubs, stores, apartments, and lofts opened because of the new stadium. Instead of people simply arriving at a game and then leaving once it was over like they did for games at the Pyramid, they go out to eat, go to a bar, hang out, shop, etc. The stadium combined with the existing entertainment hotspots created an even greater synergy that has resulted in a downtown boom and revitalization. Because the Pyramid was such a failure in attracting new business by itself, Memphis just opened a brand-new 20,000 seat arena called the FedEx Forum....and guess where they built it? One block off of Beale Street next to restaurants, the stadium, bars, stores, and apartments. The city had gotten wise and knew it could make downtown even more fun if they put all the "fun stuff" downtown next to each other. Once again there is a downtown boom. The blocks adjacent to the Forum are being renovated to add stores, restaurants, etc. because now the crowds from the Forum combine with crowds from the stadium, and both join the crowds present for Beale St. Now if you go downtown in Memphis there are 5-10 large parking garages completely full every night, Beale St. is literally shoulder-to-shoulder on weekends, and you can eat at any type of restaurant you could dream of within a five-block radius.

Toledo should carefully consider what happened to Memphis before proceeding. If we build the arena on the East Side there will be hockey and some concerts, but those few events won't attract new business. However, if you put it downtown you would have hockey fans spending money in the winter, baseball fans in the summer, the new Toledo Ice ABA fans whenever their season is, and out-of-town conventioners year-round. Toledos leaders would be morons if they put the arena on the east-side and shunned further downtown revitalization which is the MOST important issue facing Toledo.

BTW, since I'm new to Toledo and don't understand all the political aspects of the city....why does the East-side have an inferiority complex? That's become readily apparent in the last few months. They think they should have the arena and that they never get any attention. But what about South Toledo, North Toledo, West Toledo? They never get anything like this either. East Toledo should be happy the arena might be built downtown because they're A LOT closer to downtown than any other section of the city.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Marshall. I'll respond in more detail after this storm blows through.

5:19 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home