Thursday, March 08, 2007

Harrison Square meeting

I had a great time at the Harrison Square meeting tonight!

I would say that over 200 people attended the event. There were a lot of City employees, elected officials, and members of the YLNI present.

At least 60% of those present supported the project as is. It may have been higher then that...

I was one of the last speakers to get up in front of the audience and speak about the project.

I did my best to explain to the crowd that moving an existing baseball stadium from one location and building a new one a few miles away is NOT economic development; it is economic re-arrangement.

Earlier today I spent some time over at the NIIC with David Corcoran. We discussed Harrison Square...

We both attended the meeting and spoke with opposite view points on the project...

David Corcoran gave the best speech of the night by far. He was actually somewhat angry when he got to the microphone and he gave a great two minute speech. I was quite impressed!

New Channel 21 watched the people at the microphone and chose two people and interviewed them about Harrison Square. They chose one person in favor of the project and one person opposed to the project.

They chose Dave and I...

The City of Fort Wayne should contact David Corcoran and get him to speak on the subject for them. He truly did a great job of explaining why he feels the project is a must for Fort Wayne.

I have spent some time talking to several of our City Councilman and I have talked to many other people who have had conversations with our City Councilmen. I am ready to make my predictions on how the Harrison Square vote will go down...

Here is my prediction:

Voting AGAINST the Harrison Square Project will be:
John Shoaff (D)
Don Schmidt (R)
Tom Smith (R)

Voting in favor of the Harrison Square Project will be:
Sam Talarico (R)
John Crawford (R)
Tom Didier (R)
Glynn Hines (D)
Tim Pape (D)
Tom Hayhurst (D)

I am predicting it will pass 6 to 3...

Anyone else have a prediction?

Mike Sylvester

23 comments:

Tim Zank said...

Mike, You looked great on the news! By the way, You're comparison and definition of "economic re-arrangement instead of economic development" is the perfect example and terminology. It's a shame you hadn't come up with that a few months ago, as it really makes your point!

Anonymous said...

I also attended, and my take on this form was to have been hosted by Tom SMith and Don SChmitt, they got to say just a few words.. My take is the city totally took over the event... and planted their supporters in the group ...

Was quoted that Economic Development dollars must be used on special project.. but that no "general" property taxes would be used... Our property taxes fund the economic development funds.. therefore our Property Taxes are being used.

The city is quickly taxing us to death, along with the school board...

brian said...

I agree that Smith and Schmidt are the 2 against votes. This is what made last night's event hosted by them so interesting. The meeting did not go their way. I don't believe that anything will change their mind. The other councilmen are either for, or at least will consider looking into the details when they are at a later stage.
Full coverage of the event will be available on downtownfortwaynebaseball.blogspot.com later in the day.
6-3 or 5-4

brian said...

Anonymous,

I believe the economic development dollars that were mentioned were Cred and Tif funds.

Anonymous said...

I actually believe Smith listens to his constituents. So, if he feels like the majority of the citizens he is representing want the stadium, he'll vote yes. It all depends on his perception of percentages.

Also, planted supporters?? It was an open forum. The people that showed up cared about the subject. By the way, most of the people that spoke were business owners, not city employees.

the zoom said...

I listened to a speech from a former congressman where he preached how bad the Republicans are in communicating there message to their base and to the public, and how the public does not know anything about what the republicans got done in the 109th congress. And while he was going on about the issues that the Republicans got done, he was also talking about the "earmarks". He explained to the conservative crowd, that "earmarks are les than one tenth of a percent of the federal budget" witch is a stunning fact that makes me wonder why this is the concern of our time in the conservative community.

As he finished his speech, I walked up to him and told him "Mr. Congressman, I might be wrong but I recall reading an article in the Wall St. Journal, about an official in CO criticizing an earmark that Sen. Allard (R-CO) inserted in a spending bill, saying that it takes away the money the State gets from the federal government." So I asked the Hon. Congressman "Is it true that when a congressman or senator inserts an earmark in a spending bill, he does not raise spending? That he just takes away the liberty from one bureaucrat to decide how to spend the money and decides himself where the money should go?"

The answer was yes.

So if earmarks do not raise spending and it's not more then one tenth of one percent of the budget, why is there so much noise about it?

Because we do not communicate, and nobody amongst us is aware of the facts. We have to start communicating, and shouldn't be afraid that someone will slam us, because if you fight back, you have a chance of winning, and if you don’t fight you don’t even have a chance of winning.

Anonymous said...

"Planted Supporters", are you kidding me? Tom Smith and Don Schmidt organized this meeting fully expecting and hoping for a very large crowd against the project. Well, it went the other way on them. People dont spend a night away from their family to be a "plant". They take the time because they believe in their cause.

I have watched a video clip of Mr. Corcoran's comments and they are inspiring.

Mr. Anonymous, the City did not take over the event.... passionate proponents of the project took over the event!

Sam T.

Anonymous said...

So where were all of these "passionate proponents" during the last 5 Wizards seasons? The Wizards can't give away tickets as it is...so why/how will this suddenly change and create some miracle boon if the stadium is downtown?

Anonymous said...

Mike, nice job on Pat White even though in my opinion you are 100% wrong. Here is where you miss the mark on your Economic "Rearrangement" argument. The Project as a whole IS Economic Development and with all due respect, I will side with the Business Leaders position on this one. The Project does NOT happen without the stadium so it IS indeed substantial ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Your argument only makes sense if you were talking simply about a stadium for stadium situation. We currently have a basic no frills minor league stadium sitting in the middle of a vast parking lot. If the project goes forward we will have a state of the art fan friendly beautiful stadium that is part of hotel, condo, retail development.

How is this not economic development Mike? Corcoran has it right! You agree with him on 80% but the problem is that you are just flat wrong on the other 20%.

Sam T.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

How is it not a total gamble with taxpayer dollars when Hardball has absolutely ZERO experience in this kind of venture, and Fort Wayne has ZERO experience with finding successful ways to stay in the black ink?

Andrew Kaduk said...

Sam,

Although I sincerely appreciate your optimism, I can't help but think you guys are wearing rose-colored glasses and looking through a rose-colored window. Every time someone builds something novel and cool in Fort Wayne, it works great for a while and then when the trendiness expires, the fickel public moves on (ask the proprietors of Broadripple Place). That is a risk that should be taken 100% by private enterprise, and NOT with any taxpayer funds.

Fort Wayne already has the premier family-oriented attraction in the area in its zoo. Why not build off the success of the zoo somehow? It's in the middle of a park, off by itself...and yet it thrives. The coliseum is in the middle of a vast parking lot...and works just fine.

Face it, baseball is dying. Nobody even pays attention to baseball games until the playoffs...much less yet the minor leagues. Fort Wayne residents have no problem flocking to Komets games, and yet Wizards stadium is generally less than half full on game days. Does your financial forcast reflect this abysmal (yet typical) turnout?

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I think it is still too early to make a call, although I wouldn't quarrel much with you breakdown at least in terms of current (and probably strong) leanings. Sam T. is the only one that I think will vote for this regardless of what the final financials and agreements show. The rest will, I think, at least consider the proposals before voting. Tim Pape is very gung ho for the project but I think he is still quite capable of rejecting the proposals if they are outrageously one-sided.

Word that I am recieving on the side is the City is having a very difficult time making the numbers work. Did you notice Mark Becker's comment last night about discussions for Hardball Capital to manage the stadium? The deal isn't getting better.

I liked and still like your point about economic rearrangement. Although theres is a definite overlap between the two, the legitimate part of this proposal is about downtown development rather than economic development. Analyzed as economic development, it is hard to imagine we could justify spending 60+ million for a handful of new hotel jobs.

Mark Garvin

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I do NOT think there were "planted supporters." I think that the people in favor of the projects are more organized and more passionate about the project then those opposed to the project. Those opposed to the project are convinced that this will pass City Council NO MATTER what the details are.

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mark,

You cant help yourself can you. Nice cheap shot.

Of course, I would not support if I am not comfortable with the final financials and the agreements before council at the time of vote. I am a CPA just like Mr. Sylvester so the numbers mean something to me too.

I just disagree vehemently with you and Mike so why does this necessitate taking a cheap shot at me. You and I disagree on whether the Hotel should be included as part of the private dollars. I doubt if we will ever agree on that
issue and therefore the gap will never be bridged between us.

Sam T.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Anonymous said:

You are correct. I do not think the passionate supporters of this project will attend more Wizards games downtown then they do currently... You bring up a good point...

I take my family to about two Wizards games a year. I think my family will go to two Wizards game Downtown or at the existing location...

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam Talarico:

Moving an existing stadium Downtown is in no way economic development...

I am sorry that many business leaders and City officials think that moving an existing stadium to a new location is economic development. It shows a COMPLETE lack of understanding about how wealth is created...

I do not mind being against City leaders and the business people who support this project. Projects like this illustrate why Fort Wayne has been in decline for a long time! Please realize that many business owners oppose this project as well.

Consider that the existing stadium is almost paid for. Consider that attendence is NOT projected to increase at a Downtown baseball stadium. Consider that the EXACT same people who attend Wizards games at Memorial Stadium will attend Wizards games Downtown.

If we would spend the same amount of money and build a project that WOULD DRAW NEW people into Fort Wayne that would be economic development...

Economic re-arrangement is when you move money from one part of town to another and that is EXACTLY what this project is...

When we build a new Wal Mart in Fort Wayne that Wal Mart puts many other people out of business... The exact same amount of retail purchases occur; they just occur at another location... That is economic re-arrangement.

Economic development is bringing new people and new money into the region...

This is not complicated...

When City Council approves new strip malls on the edges of Fort Wayne that is also NOT economic development Sam. It is economic re-arrangement. Fort Wayne has a relatively finite amount of money that is spent on eating out and retail. Each time we build a new venue that draws on the same purchasers we are just shuffling money from one business to another...

Economic development is BRINGING NEW MONEY into the region.

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike,

You are exactly wrong and I am not sure you read my post.

Its not worth the time for the two of us to exchange any more posts because we will never agree.

However, it is the exact opposite reason that this city has been in decline. The unwillingness of leaders to act boldly and take risk and to make ourselves the type of community that will attract the people mr. corcoran so eloguently described.

So, Mike I think you are as wrong as wrong can be and I think your analysis of economic rearrangement is spectaculary flawed. But its a catchy term so stick with it.

Signing off until the vote,

Sam T.

Robert Enders said...

Sam Talarico,
What you call "economic development", I call corporate welfare.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Everyone:

Does ANYONE besides Sam Talarico reading this post think that moving an existing baseball stadium from one part of Fort Wayne to another is actually economic development?

I am really curious...

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I do not feel like writing a term paper over the weekend, but I will do my best to get back to you on your relevant questions.

As for our differences on the term "economic development". I am going to take the easy way out and ask you to go back and listen to Mr. Corcoran's eloguent words from Thursday Night on the DTBaseball website.

Have a nice weekend.

Sam T.

Frederick said...

Though they are avid supporters of the idea of the Harrison Square project, I believe both Sam Talarico and Tim Pape will make informed judgments based on the final deal structure. I do not believe they will vote for a bad financial deal for the City of Fort Wayne and its citizens.

I believe they, and many of the other proponents of the project, want the city to move up to the big leagues as it were, and a big splashy project like Harrison Square is a very attractive image of the future. I think David Corcoran’s plea at the meeting was one I hear often from many young professionals in Fort Wayne with whom I work, “Do something, anything!” Add to that the fact that there is not a line forming of private investors to dump money into downtown, just Hardball Capital and now Acquest Realty Advisors Inc. and White Lodging Services Corp. with the hotel, and one can begin to understand the urgency to act.

I believe the demolition, and the construction of the parking garage, stadium, hotel, retail space, and condos will generate some economic benefit. The test will be if an economic benefit can be sustained once all the construction is complete. Therein lays the risk. Did we pick the right combination of things to foster sustained economic growth downtown? We are making a bet we did, but the result remains to be seen. We just can’t know for sure today. We are trusting the judgment of our elected officials.

My concern is there were a number of questions that were asked and continue to be asked, and very few answers. Another issue is the compressed timeline, which Mark Becker acknowledged was indeed fast for a variety of reasons. If people could get some detailed answers to their questions, they would tend to be less suspicious that someone is tossing them a curveball, and you might bring along a few more folks to support the project. But I get the sense the City is still struggling to put a deal together that makes sense, before the shelf life on the opportunity expires.

Every voter has an opportunity to influence the outcome of this debate by letting his or her City Council representative know what they think, pro or con, about the project. Except for Sam Talarico and Dr. Hayhurst, everyone else on City Council is up for re-election, and most all have opponents in the primary election May 8th. The City said they expect to take Harrison Square to City Council for a vote about the middle of April, well before the primary. Assuming they keep to the schedule, everyone should be on the record for or against the project, so vote accordingly. If you don’t let your City Council representatives know where you stand on the issue, and don’t vote your conscience, then how can anyone complain about the outcome if it doesn’t go their way.

brian said...

Good post Frederick! It was very interesting to read.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Frederick:

Great post...

You put things very well...

You can rest assured that City Council DOES know where I stand on the issue...

Mike Sylvester