Friday, February 10, 2006

My call to Double Ms sports talk show - ESPN Radio

Mark Madden, back from the hospital, is on the radio again. He really ripped upon Dan Onorato(Allegheny County's Chief Executive) and Bob O'Connor (mayor). Double M love hockey and really wants to keep the Penguins in town. He isn't alone in those desires.

KDKA radio had an interview with the politician earlier -- and a recap was delivered to the listeners via the show host. It is hard to do a recount of the conversations on the air in a civil way -- as he ripped, as he generally does.

I called the show. I had four or five serious questions to put to him, but after the first I got clicked off the air.

I said something like this, "I think it would be great if the Penguins got a new arena. But, I want Mario to keep it. Don't give it to the city. Keep it in private hands. Mario should operate it."

He said, "Why don't you want a free gift."

I said, "We are just able to keep our head above water as it is. The new arena is like an anchor that the city doesn't need at this time."

But it is a gift, he said. And the incomes it makes.

I said that the incomes are still going to be flowing to the city regardless of who owns the building. (more type but not on the air...) The city really only makes the taxes. And the taxes come from a building the city owns or from a building the Penguins or another private operator would own. That wasn't on the air.

I said that the public ownership of the new arena would take away valuable attention that goes beyond the scope of what government should be doing. Mario could do a better job of running and programming the building anyway.

I also said it would be great if the Steelers owned Heinz Field and the Pirates, or some other organization, not some authority madness, owned PNC Park too. The city doesn't need to own these facilities.

... click ...

I was off the air. I lost the cell reception and didn't know how he followed my conversation with additional comments.

Look at the long view of this, Penguin fans. If Mario and the Penguins own the building, then it is much harder for them to move the team. Owning the building puts roots into the community that isn't as fluid as owning a franchise in the NHL.

Furthermore, as a city resident, and city recreational leader, I want to have the city own facilities that we all can use and have access too. Our city's priorities have to be about raising our families here. I'd rather put energy and effort into recreation centers and kids rather than corporate boxes and season-ticket holders.

The Isle of Capri plan needs some major adjustments. And the first one -- IMHO -- is that the windfall for the building of the new arena should not end up with the building going to public ownership. Build it. Keep it.

1 comment:

Jonathan Potts said...

I was listening when you called in. That was amusing.

The problem with PNC Park and Heinz Field is that the teams do not own those facilities, but they keep most of the revenues that are generated. They pay rent, but that's it. And no one collects taxes on them. I'm guessing the Penguins will be seeking a similar arrangement.