Please send all questions and comments to

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Final Proof That "Roberts Park" Was Just A Reason To Demolish & Disgrace Roberts Stadium

Today was the day that we were suppose to see "Evansville's New Central Park"- a park that was supposedly so good that Roberts Stadium just had to be demolished to make room for it. But today, we soon found out why Roberts Stadium was really demolished, and that's because the city just didn't want to scale it down to a mid-sized arena. How is today conclusive proof that this park was just an excuse to tear down Roberts Stadium? Let me show you. First, let's take a look at the renderings...

Concept plan unveiled for Roberts Park.
Photo Credit: Jason Clark- Evansville Courier & Press 

First of all I would like to thank the C&P for this rendering. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is also worth a thousand reasons why I continue to fight for what I believe is right for Evansville and not what is good for the local politicians who comprise the political machine that is solely responsible for today's boondoggle design. If Evansville is ever going to go back to doing great things, it must first break away from the chains of government so that things like "Roberts Park" never happen again.

Obviously, you need not look any farther than the exact area where Roberts Stadium and its 3 parking lots stood to understand that this park isn't even on the Roberts Stadium lot. In fact, both proposed dog parks, the "formal garden", the recreation fields, the playground, and even the new road going between them and running parallel to Boeke are in WESSELMAN PARK NOT ROBERTS PARK.

On the exact Roberts Stadium footprint we have a "great lawn" (gee that's going to bring in tourists by the thousands), a water feature along the Lloyd that just so happens to be controversial because it's already flooding (, and  two roads that already existed when Roberts Stadium existed. In fact, one of those roads was removed and now must be built back even though I lobbied for it to be repaired when it was still with Roberts Stadium and still mostly intact (

So basically, everything you've ever heard the mayor speak of, whether it was a dog park, a skate park (which is in the parking area between Hartke and Swonder for some odd reason) a trail over to the new Lloyd Expressway pedestrian bridge had nothing to do with Roberts Stadium, they were all Wesselman Park issues which I talked about way back when...

With all of that being said, there is one thing, and it's a big one thing, that I find to be HIGHLY offensive. It's bad enough that Mayor Winnecke looked me and a several others straight in the eye and told us that we would get a proper final send off for Roberts Stadium (a ceremony that never happened), but it is equally offensive that this lot has NOTHING to memorialize Roberts Stadium, Mayor Hank Roberts, or Ralph Legeman, the architect of Roberts Stadium who also happens to own THE patent to the famous and world known Indiana field house design.

In Omaha, Nebraska, fans are getting to pay tribute to Rosenblatt Stadium in the correct manner which consists of a memorial that directly replicates the Rosenblatt Stadium design...

At Roberts Park, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, replicates the iconic Roberts Stadium gates, the iconic side brackets that ended up being used by Legeman in all of his other gyms that just so happen to be the biggest high school gyms in the world, or the iconic triangle sides that you could see a mile away on the Lloyd Expressway. There are no statues of Hank Roberts or Ralph Legeman (the city has $5-$10 million for this park but nothing for a few statues that pay tribute to the two people who made this lot iconic, famous, and one of kind? Yea right!). There is nothing, nothing but a green open lot that reminds residents of what happens when bad people make bad decisions.

As most of you know, I am still sick to my stomach that the city would rig a task force after members like me, Greg Stilwell, and Sylvia Trabits-Niemeier spent day after day working on this project which I talked about in an article published in the City-County Observer a few weeks ago...

But after looking at these designs, I am equally sick at the way this city government keeps disgracing Roberts Stadium and the noble leaders who helped get it built and made sure it was a success. The sad part about it is that we ALL could have won out of this. We could have repurposed Roberts Stadium for half the price of this park plan, we could have left a lot open for the EVSC, converted part of that lot into a "great lawn", while putting money back to redo Hartke Pool and expand Swonder with a permanent indoor skate park. It would have truly been "something for everyone"...

Since Roberts Stadium has been demolished, we have lost our indoor football team, our minor league basketball team the Evansville SkyHawks never got off the ground, our indoor soccer team is stuck in a facility too small to host traveling tournaments (heads in beds anyone?), Councilwoman Connie Robinson cannot get enough diverse acts here because there isn't a proper sized facility, UE's basketball attendance is at an all-time low, USI's PAC is beginning to show its age, and huge trade shows like the Boat Show will never have a facility that is both affordable and the proper size for them.

All of this is happening while the Icemen, the city's highest drawing sports team, had to play on the road while the city hosted the GLVC Tournament which was an attendance nightmare as only 1,500 fans tops were ever present at the 9,480 seat Ford Center. Not to mention, this all could have been fixed with the Innkeepers Tax that would funded these simple renovations and would have allowed us to avoid using any general funds from the city's budget. Today, not one hotel guest has saved one dime from the demolition of Roberts Stadium.

As we move along, we must make sure that funds aren't wasted on a park that isn't even a park. We must make sure that the city takes the proper steps towards eventually constructing a small-to-mid-sized facility, and we must make sure we continue to hold those politicians accountable who supported this project at the next round of elections which is in 2015.

This park isn't even a park. The city wants you to forget about Roberts Stadium. Will you remember Roberts Stadium?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Candidate Conor Much Different Than Councilman Conor

It is no secret that Roberts Stadium was always held to a standard by demolition supporters that they themselves always refused to be held up to. We were always told that Roberts Stadium was a drain on existing dilapidated parks, that it was wasting city funds, and that it would continue to be nothing but a liability to the city.

The problem is, is that all of that was a lie. Roberts Stadium MADE money, it would have continued to have made money albeit smaller amounts, and it would have brought in tourists who would have helped finance the city's parks via their tourist tax dollars. But now, now we are stuck with a "park" and this isn't just a park- it's a drain on city finances, it's taking away federal grants that could be used on existing parks, and it has ZERO chances of ever bringing in revenue, much less being profitable.

Back in 2011, when we were filled with candidates giving us their best pitches on what to do with Roberts, we were given the following from current City Council Member At-Large Representative Conor O'Daniel...

"It's irresponsible to keep that thing moth balled forever at $400,000 a year that's money that should go to our parks."

Yep, that's right mothballing Roberts was taking away money from our parks. First of all, Roberts was NOT costing $400,000 a year to mothball...

And unlike Councilman O'Daniel who voted for the 2013 budget, Stephanie Brinkerhoff Riley voted against it for this very reason...

"The budget contains nearly $1 million dollars for the destruction of Roberts Stadium. Three years ago, Roberts Stadium was a profitable venue for the City. However, it was systematically attacked and the public misled as to its condition. A refusal to maintenance the building, a financing agreement for the Ford Center that required the removal of all of its seating, and an auction that sold the fixtures for pennies on the dollar has forced the destruction of a landmark in this community. City Council was misled at its last meeting as to the cost to mothball the building. We were told that it was $25 to $30 thousand dollars a month to maintain the building. The records revealed otherwise. In its most expensive month last year (January), water, telephone, pump monitoring, gas and electric was approximately $14 thousand. An average cost to mothball the stadium would be approximately $10 thousand a month. We are destroying a perfectly good building, that is paid for, due to a complete lack of creativity."

Secondly, if O'Daniel believed that mothballing Roberts was a drain on city parks, why didn't he support using $4-4.5 million on refurbishing Roberts into a mid-sized arena using Innkeepers Tax revenue in favor of the current park plan which is estimated to cost $5-10 million from the city budget that could be used on these same parks?

In other words, how can anyone who took next to no time looking into Roberts Stadium claim it's hurting the parks in any way shape or form when he voted for a budget that paid for demolition of Roberts leaving the current park plan the only option?

This past week, Councilman O'Daniel added another layer to this double standard pie...

City Council members said funding will be an important factor as they weigh the Roberts Park proposal. Councilman Conor O’Daniel, D-At-large, said he supports having a recreation area at the Roberts location, although he also likes the idea of allowing the area to develop more naturally.

Much of the city’s riverboat and special project funds are already committed, and “there’s some concern we may have overcommitted ourselves this year,” O’Daniel said. “The other part of it is, we need a clean bill of health from the State Board of Accounts ... Those are the considerations we have to make in thinking about at what pace we roll this out.”

Despite the fact that the current situation with our existing parks is nothing short of pathetic, and despite the fact that Mr O'Daniel himself has admitted that city funds are tapped out, he has not called for pulling the plug on the project. Now, we get the "let's think about what pace we roll this out" speech. In other words, expect this park to be a pain in the city budget's rear for quite some time.

The answer to this problem, like it always has been, is very simple. It is nothing short of blatant hypocrisy for the City Council to give this mayor one single dime for a park that will NEVER stand a chance of making money. Roberts Stadium was never allowed to serve as a mid-sized arena which would have kept it solvent, it was never allowed to use Innkeeper's Tax funds which would have been half the cost of this boondoggle park and would have left the city budget alone, and it was never allowed to put heads in beds.

Therefore, this council should not allow a money losing, generic, and unneeded park that will indeed drain resources from existing parks to be constructed with city budget dollars.

There is no need to be a prisoner of the moment, developing this land immediately is irresponsible and unnecessary. But then again, will Councilman Conor hold Roberts Park up to the same standards as Candidate Conor did Roberts Stadium?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Does Rich Say We Do? FUHGEDDABOUDIT! -

There are some things you expect, some things you accept, and then there are just some things that make you want to shake your head and wonder: Where did that come from?

Last month, former Courier & Press writer Rich Davis gave us the following quote...

"Like Mr. Hazelip, I was a big fan of Roberts Stadium and the Aces in their heyday. But it’s time to move on as a community, put aside hurt feelings and get behind the Ford Center."

Yup, that's right. Rich wants us to "put aside hurt feelings" and forget we were ever screwed out of preserving Roberts Stadium which was the most efficient, most productive, and most popular idea here in Evansville. While simply forgetting about what happened may seem like "the right thing to do" on its face, the truth is, there is nothing more detrimental to the future of Evansville than simply forgetting what happened to Roberts Stadium.

Let's be very clear about what happened to Roberts Stadium- It was used, abused, and then discarded like trash. I don't think it will ever be possible for any other venue in this city, or anywhere else for that matter, to have to endure what this one facility had to endure from so many government hacks and bureaucrats for nearly half of a decade.

What really offends me about the entire process is the fact that there is no doubt of any kind that the Winnecke administration wasted everyone's time who served on the Roberts Stadium Task Force and every citizen's time who came to the meetings. I, along with several other citizens, gave our time and efforts to listen to the public not once, not twice, but three times and then held multiple meetings in our subcommittees to put together an honest and well rounded plan that addressed the needs and desires of all parties involved, which we did with the greatest of ease.

I was fortunate to have two talented individuals in the subcommittee I was a member of- Greg Stilwell of the US 41 Business Group & Jeff Justice of Hafer Associates. Yes, I gave up several hours on my paycheck to make these meetings but these two gentleman gave up even more as Greg had to take time off from his own business while Jeff had to reschedule and/or postpone many business projects that sent him out of town.

Even today, the official task force report contains a "general conclusions" page that is nothing more than a work of fiction. Nobody signed off on it, nobody discussed it, and nobody agreed that it was cheaper to demolish Roberts Stadium than to renovate it. The question still remains: Why did Lloyd Winnecke allow that page to stand?

And once Winnecke was done wasting everyone's time on the task force, he then proceeded to erase Roberts Stadium in the most unprofessional way possible. It was bad enough we had to deal with the Wilson Auction brothers fiasco...

But then we had to watch as the Roberts Stadium road signs quickly vanished into the night without even a hint of the fact that several supporters of Roberts Stadium were interested in those signs- the most notable being the Roberts family. 

Roberts Stadium and its supporters have had to endure half-truth after lies after just plain people wanting to whine about anything. No, Roberts Stadium did not have any structural problems. No, there isn't one single event that would have used a mid-sized Roberts as leverage against the Ford Center for a better rate. And no, it would not be cheaper to build a new arena than to have renovated the existing one.

Rich Davis' comments came as a big surprise to me. We're talking about a Courier & Press writer who once wrote that Roberts was "an embodiment of Evansville's pride"...

He remembers The Night It Rained Tears as he was one of the first people on scene...

I expect people who know nothing about arenas to say forget about it. I also expect people who don't care about the city of Evansville, its history, or its future to say forget about it. But for a citizen who has followed Aces basketball as far as back as Rich has, I'm shocked and I refuse to accept his belief that we should forget about it.

Roberts Stadium was knocked over and then covered up at an alarming rate. It was knocked over at the speed of light for one reason and one reason only- Winnecke wants all us to have forgotten about Roberts Stadium by the time the 2015 Evansville Mayoral Election rolls around. He wants us to forget about what he did to Roberts Stadium, how he did it, and why he did it. He wants us to do what Rich is now saying we should do- Forget About It!

Now is NOT the time to forget about what happened to Roberts Stadium. The people that knocked this building over are still in office. Dave Rector still runs the Building Authority, all 5 Parks Board members are still on the board, and Lloyd Winnecke is still mayor. If we just say "forget about" Roberts Stadium even while the arena is still being demolished, what do you think these people will do when it's decision time for Mesker Amphitheatre, Old North High School, and the McCurdy.

Sorry Rich, Roberts Stadium supporters aren't interested in bowing down to those who want to destroy Evansville. Yes, we still have over two years until the next mayors race, but there's one thing we will never do, and that's forget about what happened to Roberts Stadium!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sorry Lance Wilkerson, Coach McCutchan Would Have Supported Roberts

The date was February 26th, 2011-the last men's basketball game the University of Evansville hosted at Roberts Stadium. Like I talked about in the Aces post before this one, UE's decision to vacate Roberts Stadium and rent the Ford Center instead of purchasing Roberts Stadium outright has been a bad decision of epic proportions. Attendance at Aces games has hit an all-time low (and it's not even close to the worst season at Roberts) while the UE campus now struggles with room for their campus and athletic programs such as their volleyball team (most universities move their volleyball, women's basketball, and other miscellaneous sports teams into their old arena-See Nebraska).

But on February 26th, 2011, no one knew what the future would hold as that day was a day to celebrate the history and accomplishments of Roberts Stadium. After UE defeated Illinois State, UE gathered over a hundred alumni around the court to listen to Lance Wilkerson, who serves as UE's play by play broadcaster and director of development for athletics, give the crowd one last speech.

I'll admit, I fell for it all. Standing next to Lloyd Winnecke as he walked up to Jim Crews to try to strike up a conversation about the good ole days, seeing all the Aces boosters and officials come back to see Roberts Stadium, and listening to Wilkerson talk about what Roberts Stadium meant to the Aces sold me on the idea that UE actually gave a damn about this arena and would actually fight to keep it standing even if it never hosted another UE basketball game again.

Of course, we now know that when push came to shove, UE took the city's bait and bought into the notion that somehow, someway a mid-sized Roberts Stadium with or without the Aces would compete with the Ford Center. They believed the fear that a standing Roberts Stadium would ruin their glorious entrance into the Ford Center no matter what purpose the building served moving forward. As a result of this paranoia, just about all of those who represented UE on the court that day did the following when push came to shove to fight to repurpose Roberts Stadium...

Although I remember most of Wilkerson's speech, I was fortunate to have had it recorded as well. A few nights ago, I decided to play the video once more for the simple fact that I missed seeing a fully intact Roberts Stadium. The following part of the video stuck out to me...

For those who couldn't hear the speech clearly, Wilkerson was talking about a conversation he had had with the son of Ace's legendary coach Arad McCutchan. He said that when he was talking with him he asked him what he thought his dad would say about the Aces moving into the new arena if he were still alive. He said Coach McCutchan's son replied,

"Arad would love it, he would embrace it."

Given the fact that Wilkerson mentioned in his speech that he wanted the UE alumni to know about this comment, can we assume this is an accurate assumption of how Coach McCutchan would feel? Did Coach McCutchan ever mention that he wished UE would demolish Roberts Stadium and build a new arena?

Those who have followed this blog frequently will recall that back in the 1980s the city debated building a new arena downtown instead of renovating Roberts Stadium. Then mayor Michael Vandeveer proposed a 15,000 seat dome on the lot that is currently taken by Casino Aztar. Unfortunately, the correct solution which was to have either left Roberts as is or given it a slight renovation (Yes I did like the original Roberts but I must admit the 4 gates that were added in 1990 looked amazing) for the Aces while constructing a bigger dome for concerts, sports tournaments, and other teams like USI who would later catch fire with Bruce Pearl as coach.

Since the city government made the problem an either/or solution, various city leaders and Aces officials were asked which option they would prefer. Lucky for us, one of those people was Coach McCutchan who still went to the Aces games even after he retired in 1977...

The following news article is the same exact one I posted two stories below this one...

On its face, this newspaper article looks just like a regular run of the mill article you see in the Courier & Press every day. In fact, you have to click on the link above it to zoom in close enough to see that this article isn't just any ole article- it is Coach McCutchan's definitive opinion on if he liked Roberts Stadium or if he would have wanted to play in a new arena.

After zooming in, when you read the third and second to last paragraphs you will see the following from Coach McCutchan...

"McCutchan, as you might expect, would prefer that his long-time home be expanded rather than razed.

"I presume my thinking is colored by the fact that the stadium has been so good for me in its present location," he said. "But I've been to a lot (arenas), and I will tell you- when it comes to watching a game I really want to see, this is the place I want to see it. I just don't think there's a bad seat in it, even the worst seat in the house.""

As you read those two paragraphs, did the words of Coach McCutchan himself convince you that he would "love" and/or "embrace" a new arena?  Do you think Coach McCutchan would have approved of the way Winnecke and UE treated Roberts Stadium last year? It shouldn't take a moment's thought to figure that one out!

As with former Evansville mayor Hank Roberts, who built Roberts Stadium, and Evansville architect Ralph Legeman, who designed Roberts Stadium and holds the coveted patent for the Indiana fieldhouse design, Coach McCutchan wasn't alive to help us fight for Roberts Stadium these past 2 years. He died on June 16th, 1993...

While Roberts Stadium is being demolished, we are seeing first hand just how far our city has fallen. Instead of Hank Roberts, we have a mayor who still can't even prove his own Roberts Stadium Task Force Report. Instead of Ralph Legeman, we basically have no architects who have designed anything more than a strip mall. And instead of Arad McCutchan, we have a basketball coach who has lost more games than he has weight with his new weight loss program.

The saddest part about how far our city has fallen is the fact that our city leaders have forgotten who made this city everything it used to be. On Dec 13th, 2012, the 35th anniversary of the Aces plane crash, the mayor, the parks department, and Klenck Demolition via the Courier & Press announced that they were going to set up a web cam for those interested in watching the demolition of Roberts Stadium online.

UE has forgotten which facility gave them 5 NCAA College Division championships. And now, it appears that they have forgotten how Coach McCutchan felt about Roberts Stadium. Like Roberts, McCutchan made UE everything it has ever been in basketball...

On February 20th, which is a little under 3 weeks away, it will be the 48th anniversary of Arad McCutchan Day...

Will Evansville still remember Coach McCutchan on February 20th, 2013? Or, will his legacy only be brought back up when UE or the city needs to use it as a marketing tool for one of their capital improvement projects?

If you want to turn your back on Roberts Stadium in favor of a new arena that is designed for premier acts, basketball tournaments, and regular season hockey games that take up a bigger floor surface, help yourself. But if you do make the decision that sacrificing Roberts Stadium to the city in exchange for getting to call the city's new toy your home is worth it, please make sure you take credit for this decision.

Don't act like past generations would stand for this regressive and disrespectful decision!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Will Winnecke Ever Prove That Page 13 Was A "General Conclusion" With The Task Force?

(click on photo to enlarge for credits)

Why I’m No Longer An Aces Fan: The Numbers Don’t Lie, UE Should’ve Never Told Roberts Good-Bye

I’ll admit, I use to be an Aces fan. The keywords in that sentence are “use to be.” Growing up in Evansville, the Aces were something you could take pride in, they were larger than life. Although they never reached the pinnacle of being competitive with teams like IU, UK, Purdue, Louisville, etc, etc on a daily basis, they were still a way of life. After all, what other university can say that Jerry Sloan played for them? What other team has a player that scored 65 points in one game?

Before these past few years, Aces basketball stood for something. It was, in a nutshell, what being born and raised in Evansville was all about. It stood for loyalty, tradition, honor, integrity, and most importantly, it stood for progress. When I read through the book Trophies and Tears (you can order your copy by going to the link on the right hand side), I always end each chapter with one thought- I can only imagine what could have been.

When the city of Evansville started struggling in the early 1960s, the government wasn’t talented enough to adapt, innovate, or even stabilize the city. Gone were people like Benjamin Bosse and Hank Roberts. In were large family names like Lloyd, Mosby, and McDonald. When you have a leader(s) that lacks talent, self-confidence, or determination to get a task accomplished, it isn’t too hard for the rest of the group to sense that they’re heading in the wrong direction. After this started happening in the 1960’s, it didn’t take too long for local residents to figure out that Evansville’s future had a big red arrow pointing down. Since that time, Evansville has decreased in population in every U.S Census.

While the destruction of Evansville was taking place, the University of Evansville Men’s Basketball Team was going in the other direction. After hanging FIVE NCAA Div II National Championships (college division back then), UE made the bold and daring decision to go Division I, something even USI hasn’t had the guts to make yet. Right out of the gates, UE was dealt an enormous setback in 1977 (their first year as a Div I team) when a plane carrying their team to Nashville crashed and left no survivors. After that horrific tragedy, most universities would have packed it in. UE did the exact opposite.

In 1978, attendance for Aces games at Roberts started off very slow at 5,095 fans/game (I’m going to have a complete list of year by year attendance figures further down this article) but picked up steadily and quickly. In 1979, attendance rose dramatically to 8,015 fans/game, and by 1982, attendance was up to 10,001 fans/game. This impressive number moved UE up to 32nd in the NCAA attendance rankings. Just five years after entering Div I basketball, and just five years after suffering a horrific plane crash that decimated the Aces program, UE and the Evansville community had come together successfully to bring the program all the way up to 32nd in nation for attendance. This took place while Evansville was losing residents in every US Census since 1960!

After 1982, attendance began to level off a little bit, and by 1985, it had fallen all the way down to 6,245 fans/game which ranked 78th in NCAA Div I Basketball. If this happened today, do you think the local naysayers would have the strength to bring the program back up? Thankfully, times were different for UE and Evansville as a whole in the late 1980’s. Although I felt like the city made an enormous mistake by not building Mayor Vandeveer’s proposed dome downtown, I also felt like the decision to renovate Roberts Stadium proved to be the correct decision as far as the Aces are concerned.

By 1986, the city began discussing if they were going to renovate Roberts Stadium or build a new arena (of course before they even started they had already conceded that they were only going to solve half the problem). When all was said and done, the decision was made to renovate Roberts Stadium in 1990. From 1986 to the final season of old Roberts Stadium (1989), Aces attendance rose from 6,516 fans/game to 9,280 fans/game which moved UE back up to 45th in the attendance rankings.

Like 1977, Roberts Stadium came up big for the Aces once more in the 1990s. From 1991 (the first season after renovations were complete) through the 1996-97 season (6 total seasons), the Aces averaged 10,000 + fans/game every single season. Support for Aces basketball peaked in 1993 when an average of 11,740 fans showed up each game. This moved UE all the way up to 30th in the NCAA attendance rankings. In other words, the renovations to Roberts Stadium WORKED!

In 1997, things began to take a turn for the worse when attendance fell to 8,348 fans/game. Attendance would dangle in the 8,000s until 2001 when it fell to 7,148 fans/game. That takes us to 2002 when our last major shift in attendance took place. In 2002, attendance fell all the way down to 5,822 fans/game.  With the Aces playing in front of crowds that were 50% of what they used to be, a decision had to be made on the future of the Aces program.

Instead of rallying around their program like UE traditionally did, the university began pondering a move to Div III. Thankfully, what was left of the spirit of Aces basketball rose up one last time to prevent this move. The university announced that their alumni had successfully convinced them to stay Div I. The momentum gained from this decision helped UE rise slightly in attendance as the Aces played in front of 6,000 + fans/game from 2003 to 2006.

Basically, from 1977 all the way up to 2006, our community was very lucky in the sense that UE, UE’s alumni, and the UE Men’s basketball team itself kept making the correct decisions time after time. Unlike the city of Evansville, which was still in decline mode, UE was resilient. We can credit this resiliency to one thing- Roberts Stadium. That’s right, Roberts Stadium made the Aces who they are today…

In 2007, it was decision time once more as attendance had fallen to 5,494 fans/game again. This time, UE decided to make the wrong decision which also happens to be the decision that is basically why I’m no longer an Aces fan today. After then mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel won re-election by a landslide, he became convinced that everything he wanted to do was a mandate. One of those mandates was a new arena.

I know I’ve said it a thousand times on this blog, but I’m going to say it once more: I’m not against the construction of the new arena downtown. In fact, I showed up on the day of its ground breaking to support the mayor. However, that doesn’t mean that I agree that UE should have been one of its tenants. If you look at UE and its basketball program from the big picture, you find yourself wondering why the university would make such a dumb decision to play all of their games downtown.

In 2009, the city had finally ironed out all of the details to their arena plan. The plan consisted of placing the new arena on half of the Executive Inn’s lot and half of the lot bounded by Main Street, Locust, 6th Avenue, and MLK. This was easily one of the dumbest decisions ever made in the history of Evansville, but there were two things left that made it even worse in terms of Aces basketball. After thinking and debating about it, the mayor finally announced that the arena would have a hockey sized floor (Roberts’ is basketball sized) and the city would be moving UE in instead of handing them the keys to Roberts Stadium.

Since that time, Aces attendance has fallen once more. After attendance increased to 5,863 fans/game in 2009, it nose dived to 4,832 fans/game in 2010 before rising up slowly in 2011 to 4,910 fans/game (the slight increase can be attributed to the fact that 2011 saw both UNC come to town as well as the final Aces game at Roberts Stadium).

For those who haven’t been following the pattern of UE attendance, here is all 35 years of Aces Division I basketball attendance at Roberts Stadium (in parenthesis is UE’s rank in the NCAA)…

UE 2011 4,910 (614 fans out of Top 100) UE 2010 4,832 (579 fans out of Top 100) UE 2009 5,863 (94th) UE 2008 5,486 (265 fans out of Top 100) UE 2007 5,494 (99th) UE 2006 6,025 (88th) UE 2005 6,318 (85th) UE 2004 6,618 (82nd) UE 2003 6,671 (80th) UE 2002 5,822 (95th) UE 2001 7,148 (72) UE 2000 8,337 (55th) UE 1999 8,587 (53rd) UE 1998 8,177 (55th) UE 1997 8,348 (56th) UE 1996 10,457 (40th) UE 1995 10,489 (37th) UE 1994 10,230 (38th) UE 1993 11,740 (30th) UE 1992 10,198 (36th) UE 1991 10,784 (32nd) UE 1990 9,648 (45th) UE 1989 9,280 (45th) UE 1988 9,122 (43rd) UE 1987 7,923 (54th) UE 1986 6,516 (76th) UE 1985 6,245 (78th) UE 1984 7,975 (52nd) UE 1983 8,434 (45th) UE 1982 10,001 (32nd) UE 1981 8,431 (44th) UE 1980 7,735 (54th) UE 1979 8,015 (48th) UE 1978 5,095 (86th)

Moving forward, we were told that moving the Aces into what is now known as the Ford Center was the correct decision for both the Aces, the Ford Center, and the city of Evansville in general. But so far, the statistics tell a different story. Attendance per game for the Aces first season in the Ford Center was a whopping…

UE 2012 5,135 (102 fans out of Top 100)

That’s right, we spent $125 million on a new arena and we have a primary tenant whose attendance only increased 235 fans/game even with Butler and Indiana coming to town. One would think that was bad enough, but it gets even WORSE. Let’s take a look at attendance of each Aces home game this year…

USI                                   7358
Illinois Springfield               4753
Buffalo                               3572
Yale                                   4112
Western Ill                          4431
Alabama A&M                  3510
Miami (OH)                        3481
Murray St.                          6302          
Alabama State                    4116
Oakland City                       3254         
Missouri State                     3721
Southern Illinois                   6032        
Wichita State                       5485
Bradley                                4183       Avg (4594)

Technically, the Aces highest drawing game, which was against USI, may not count towards attendance since it was an exhibition game. But in the act of fairness, I am going to throw both the 7,358 fans at the USI game and the 4,753 fans at the Illinois Springfield game into the mix. When we add up attendance for all 14 games UE has played this season at the Ford Center, we get a total of 64,310 fans. In other words, 6 and a half sold out concerts would have generated more people than the Aces have all year. We then take the 64,310 fans and divide it by 14 (the # of games played) so that we get a current total of 4,594 fans per game.

So, as you look through the 35 years of attendance at Roberts Stadium, you will notice that the worst year for the Aces came in 2010 when only 4,832 fans showed up for each game. That figure is 238 fans HIGHER than the current average attendance at the Ford Center. In other words, UE is renting a more expensive arena while their attendance has dropped after only increasing a tad the first year.
If you think attendance for UE’s Men’s Basketball Team is bad, take a look at what the women are pulling in this year…

USI                      N/A
San Jose State    309
UT- Martin          204
Saint Louis           328
Drake                   333
Creighton              858
SIU                        829     AVG ( 2861/6 = 477)

As bad as the Aces men’s team is drawing, their lowest attended game, which was Oakland City at 3,254 fans/game is 393 fans more than what the UE women have brought in TOTAL for the 6 games where attendance figures were given (if you look at photos of the game against USI, it doesn’t look much better).

I don’t know about you but it seems pretty obvious that the Ford Center was not built for teams to only draw crowds in the hundreds instead of thousands. And given the fact that Mr. Scott Schoenike has told us numerous times through numerous sources that the Ford Center is now almost completely booked and will have to start pushing some events out as the year progresses, these figures become solid proof that the Aces and the Ford Center are just not a good match outside of 3-4 men’s games a year.

Some people have argued that while these figures are lower the decision to move into the Ford Center was a good one because the arena is new, it will improve recruiting, and it is built for future Aces attendance improvements.

First of all, the Ford Center is NOT built for the Aces to improve their attendance as it is nearly 2,000 seats smaller than Roberts Stadium. In fact, attendance from 7 seasons where the Aces played at Roberts Stadium are greater than the capacity of the Ford Center (Not that I expect that to be a problem anytime soon). 

Secondly, the Ford Center has not improved recruiting as the Aces are currently in 4th place in the Missouri Valley Conference which isn’t as good as it normally is. Lastly, a newer arena doesn’t translate into a better team or even a better deal. Look at my review of Southern Illinois’ arena ( ), that team made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006!

The most important thing I would like for you to take out of this article is the fact that ALL of this could have been prevented if the Aces would have once again stepped up and made the right decisions for their athletic department like they have done so well in the past.  Not only could things have been better for those who look at this area through purple and orange tinted glasses, it could have also been better for those who want to improve Downtown Evansville with the Ford Center.

What should have happened?

Step 1: City donates Roberts Stadium and the land around it to UE.

Step 2 : City constructs the Ford Center while leaving open 3-4 dates for UE to play top drawing teams like USI, IU, Butler, Creighton, etc, etc. After that, the city fills in the rest of the dates with premier concerts and shows that fill more seats and thus generate more revenue. The city also schedules a few more USI games against notable teams like Kentucky Wesleyan and Northern Kentucky.

Step 3: Instead of dumping $3.3 into a dull, small, and boring practice facility, UE redirects the funds to renovating Roberts Stadium which was estimated to run between $4-4.5 million. UE either decides to demolish the precast concrete above street level and start out with a small Roberts Stadium (4,500-5,000 seats) or decides to leave the precast concrete but expand the length of the floor so that low rent teams like the Evansville Rage can play their home games there (about 8,000-,10,000 seats).

Step 4: UE finances the rest of the renovations by selling naming rights to the gates, commemorative bricks, naming rights to the plazas, streets, and rooms in and around Roberts Stadium.

Step 5: UE schedules low rent teams like the Rage, Crush, and Skyhawks that cannot afford the Ford Center to generate revenue. Trade shows and other events could have also been held there. The facility, like other college arenas, is left open during the day for students to walk and jog around for exercise.

With those 5 steps, UE would have had a paid off arena and would no longer be shelling out thousands of dollars each game in rent (I hear the Aces pay $10,000 a game plus they have to share revenue in other amenities as well with the city and Ford Center). This would have placed UE in an excellent financial position, it would have allowed them to play their games closer to their campus (which is getting close to connecting to Roberts Stadium anyways), and it would have given them plenty of room to expand in the future. Heck, they even could have built a football stadium in the parking lot.

On the other hand, the city would have come out better as well. Being able to schedule only the Aces games that draw big crowds would have allowed the Ford Center to fill the current low turnout game days with acts that would sell more seats. Mr. Schoenike told me last year that he could fill every single day at the Ford Center up in the blink of an eye.

But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It turns out, the negativity and the horrible way our local government runs our city finally caught up with the Aces. Now, we have a mayor whose buddy-buddy with those who run UE. In fact, you’ll even find a few names from UE and its athletic department on his campaign report. What use to be a well-run university, is now a droid that has been assimilated by the city of Evansville.

Yes, I would still be an Aces fan today if there only problem was attendance. If UE was genuinely giving an effort to do the right thing, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But here’s the problem- UE is no longer the UE I grew up with. Now, those who run the university have cashed in on UE’s rich basketball history while being the one and only generation who finally let the city throw Roberts Stadium under the bus.

A few years ago, I remember someone from the basketball team (not a player and I’m not going to name names) was on the local news saying that UE is bigger than Roberts Stadium and that it will move on without it. Well, I hate to break it to this person, but Roberts Stadium made UE, not vice-versa as we saw firsthand in the article from 1986 up above.

By far and away, the worst thing UE did to Roberts Stadium was there performance these past few years while its future was in limbo. First, I emailed one of the main professors in the engineering department to see if he could spare just a few minutes to look at the Roberts Stadium structure. He didn’t even have the time of day to email me back. Then, when the task force was assembled, UE brought NOTHING to the table. No ideas, no support, and certainly no cooperation. But as soon as their glorious alumni mayor made the decision to demolish it,  guess who was first in line to cash in on Roberts Stadium’s bricks?...

I can’t help but feel like UE selling out Roberts Stadium by collecting on its bricks is also a perfect microcosm for the state of UE Basketball itself…

Today’s University of Evansville Purple Aces aren't your father’s University of Evansville Purple Aces. Unlike previous generations, these Aces didn't stand behind Roberts Stadium. A few weeks ago, the Courier & Press published an article where Venuworks and Ford Center director summed up perfectly my thoughts on the whole situation when he said, “ You don’t have to hate Roberts Stadium to like the Ford Center.”

It’s a shame that message never made it to UE. It’s a shame the Aces weren't willing to stand behind Roberts Stadium in any way, shape, or form because they were too dumb to understand that preserving this arena had nothing to do with the construction of the Ford Center. In fact, it whether they played 0 games or all of their games in Roberts Stadium or the Ford Center, this arena could have still been productive for them just like it could have been for our city at large.

It appears the brain drain has finally hit the last great thing in Evansville- Purple Aces Basketball. And now, it also appears that local residents have finally figured it out as attendance figures have fallen well below the worst of the worst years at Roberts Stadium. Because of their own stubbornness, UE will never own their own arena outright, they will never be able to market their own history to recruits and prospective students, and they will never be able to say that they stood up for Roberts Stadium like previous generations of Aces did. And that….. Is why I am no longer an Aces fan!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

As Winnecke Strikes Again, Only One Councilman Takes A Stand

A zebra can't change its stripes and you can't teach a dog new tricks, even if you spend $8 million on a frivolous park for it. This past week, we have seen Lloyd Winnecke use the same bush league tactics towards the new hotel project that he used towards Roberts Stadium. For those who have seen the movie "Ground Hog Day," you may begin to feel like the days in Evansville are beginning to repeat themselves like in the movie.

Not only are we seeing Winnecke go back on his word to bring a transparent government to the civic center, we are also seeing the same closed door policy that he used to demolish Roberts Stadium. It has now been over 6 months since Winnecke announced that he wanted to demolish Roberts Stadium and we STILL don't know if the mayor did any research towards a mid-sized arena, who put the falsified page 13 (known as "general conclusions" despite the general task force having no idea where it came from) in the report, and why it wasn't removed. You have a better chance of parting the Red Sea than finding out any of those answers.

On the day that Judge D'Amour, whose wife just so happens to have been the campaign coordinator for Winnecke when he ran for mayor, ruled against Alan Brille and refused to even address the fact that the task force report was filled with not just errors but with misleading sections and information that clearly isn't true, I said that his decision would be the green light for these same tactics to happen again...

As usual, most city officials brushed off this notion and refused to believe that we would see more actions take place behind closed doors. After this past week, their notion just doesn't hold water. Like Roberts Stadium, the Executive Inn got a raw deal with the city. First, we were led to believe that if we just knocked down half of the building we could refurbish it and use it to compliment the new arena. Then, once Browing Investments turned over the keys after finally deciding to call it quits on remodeling the Executive Inn, the Kunkel Group was rebuffed in their efforts to use what was left of the existing structure.

In the end, the city couldn't have screwed up the outcome any more than they did. Even to this day, we still have no hotel, a sky walk to nowhere, and an old parking garage lot that resembles a landfill. Of course, none of this would have happened if Weinzapfel would have picked the correct location for the arena that didn't involve the Executive Inn in the first place.

The Executive Inn debacle is just one of many times we have watched our mayor and our city officials make the wrong decision when given a wide array of choices. Some other notable decisions include...

1. The previous ECVB, which is basically of the same mindset of the current ECVB, chose the Roberts Stadium lot instead of Kleymeyer Park for their ball fields project. Instead of rejuvenating an area that is in need of repair while taking advantage of Bosse Field, the third oldest active ballpark, we ended up with a drag out fight between the ECVB and city residents over a lot that has ZERO baseball history and ZERO advantages over the Kleymeyer Park lot. What made it even worse was the fact that city residents were never given a choice, it was always what location Dunn picked, then city residents could voice their views.

2. The Chamber, mayor, past mayor, and INDOT choosing the wrong path for I-69. If you look at this map (, you will see that the current plan is easily the worst possible plan as it requires more land being destroyed, a higher impact on the environment, and a more expensive route to construct. This road could have easily done US 41/I-70 OR it could have done US 41 and then state road 231 or state road 54 just north of Vincennes. This would have had a greater impact on residents living north of us on US 41, it would have left extra funds for high speed rail to accompany this interstate, and it would have prevented the need to plow through forests leading up to Bloomington. But in the end, Evansville city officials weren't going to be happy until they had it their way and the worst route of all, which still isn't finished, was the one chosen. So much for everyone working together.

3. Weinzapfel chooses the wrong location for the Ford Center. Since the city decided to rebuild the Centre on its current lot, a decision that is now proven to be the wrong decision given that the Executive Inn has been demolished and the rest of the entertainment complex is around Aztar, it was a foregone conclusion that the arena would have to be somewhere close by instead of further west by Aztar. However, that didn't mean that the current lot was the only option. First, we watched the city fight D-Patrick for what was the best lot. Given reports from both sides, it is still unclear if the city could have won if they would have stuck with this plan. Unfortunately, they didn't and instead of choosing better locations like the back 40 or going parallel down Main Street, the city choose to go perpendicular to Main Street which required demolition of both the buildings on Main Street and half of the Executive Inn and is now land locked. The sad part is, it all could have been avoided by proper planning.

4. Winnecke decides to ignore all those interested in saving Roberts Stadium and decides on a dog park plan  that he got while in Arizona visiting his daughter. Obviously, this was the worst decision of the four because it was so blatant that he already knew he was going to knock down Roberts Stadium, yet he choose to waste everyone's time on the task force just so he could use them as political pawns. Of all the political issues and events I have been involved with, this was by far the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

So now, you can pretty much imagine why Winnecke has decided to play hide and go seek with the hotel project. As of right now, we are down to three finalists. Although all 3 of these finalists have submitted their plans to the city, no one in the public has any idea..

1. What the proposals include
2. What the renderings look like
3. What the financial contributions from each bidder are

And not only does the city at large have no idea what is going on, apparently Winnecke has decided to meet individually with the city council which is out of the view of the public. Despite this obviously being bad public  policy, only one of the 9 council members is taking a stand against Winnecke- 6th Ward Councilman Al Lindsey.

Not only has councilman Lindsey been very vocal against the current hotel fiasco, he has also taken a stand for Roberts Stadium numerous times...

We all owe Al a HUGE thank you for the consistent stand he has taken for both Roberts Stadium and government transparency. As long as Winnecke feels he has the green light to keep on doing what he is doing, we will need to keep electing people like Al Lindsey to the city council so that these type of tactics are kept in check. I am very proud that he is taking a stand while the other 8 council members have chosen to be puppets and sheep who lack any sort of independent thoughts and actions.

The day after the page 13 controversy broke, I received a phone call from Lloyd Winnecke. He told me that he put me on the task force as a courtesy. So I guess the fact that I had worked on Roberts Stadium for over 2 years did not matter, he was just putting me on the task force because he felt like being a nice guy.

The fact that he has not reached out to Roberts Stadium supporters after his announcement in any way, shape, or form to see if there was some way the city could keep smaller parts of Roberts Stadium as a monument just proves that we were put on the task force so that Winnecke could give some credibility to a task force that was never going to be allowed to come up with the best solution.

And now, just this past week, Winnecke is claiming that his private meetings with council members are a courtesy. That's right, it's a courtesy for the mayor to tell the council his selection behind closed doors instead of letting the entire public see the three plans, evaluate them, and then choose for themselves which is the best. With all of these "courtesy" actions being taken by the mayor, I guess it's Winnecke's World we just live in it.

Moving forward, we must use what happened to Roberts Stadium as an example if we are going to be able to get anything out of the Roberts Stadium fiasco. If we keep allowing tactics like closed door meetings take place, we will have gained nothing from the movement to save Roberts Stadium.

So today, I urge you to contact Al Lindsey and thank him for taking a stand. I also urge you to email the mayor's office and tell them enough is enough. Let's make sure that what happened to Roberts Stadium never happens again!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weinzapfel Still Clings To His Half-Truths

Of all the bush league tactics that Roberts Stadium had to endure during its final few years of its 56 year legacy, by far and away the worst were the half-truths told about it. What makes these half-truths so ugly, so offensive, and so discouraging is the fact that they have come from our elected leaders. When we put our elected leaders in office, we do so because we want to trust them, we want to believe in them, and we would like to think that they would do the right thing when faced with adversity.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I believe that former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel did the right thing  when it came time to make decisions with regards to both the Ford Center and Roberts Stadium's fate. One of the  things that our current mayor and our past mayor have done that has offended through out the entire process was their pitting Roberts Stadium up against the Ford Center.

From now until the day that I die, I will never, ever understand why our city went out of their way to divide our community. And as bad as I hate to say it, I do have to admit that they accomplished their goal. Many Ford Center supporters clung to the battle and began launching attacks on Roberts Stadium after they became scared that renovating Roberts Stadium into a mid-sized arena would somehow, someway compete with their brand new arena that they were proud of. On the flip side, a fair amount of Roberts Stadium supporters took the battle personally as well and began attacking the Ford Center after they were led to believe that renovating Roberts Stadium was only possible if the Ford Center would not have been built.

Although many good residents of this river city took the bait, I myself refused to join in on this massive division of our city that made a city that is already failing to compete with other cities at war with itself. No matter what our "city leaders" may claim, renovating Roberts Stadium and constructing the Ford Center was not an either/or situation and I will explain why.

Building the Ford Center was done for a wide variety of reasons. It was constructed so that our city could remain competitive in attracting premier and top notch concerts and events. It was also constructed in what I hope is the beginning or revitalizing downtown which will be instrumental in preventing urban sprawl. Also, the Ford Center was built so that our city could field a minor league hockey team known as the Icemen which wasn't possible at Roberts Stadium. I supported constructing the Ford Center for these reasons.

On the flip side, renovating Roberts Stadium was needed for reasons that are completely opposite of the reasons to construct the Ford Center. With Roberts Stadium, we had a healthy arena that was paid off and only in need of minimal renovations to scale it down to the mid-size market. By scaling Roberts Stadium down instead of up, we would have been attracting a market that is basically non-existent in Evansville- the low-middle income sports industry. Teams the compete in indoor soccer, indoor football, and minor league basketball were interested in Roberts Stadium because they could not afford to rent the Ford Center nor would it be in the interests of the city to put these events in the Ford Center which would force out higher revenue generating events. For these reasons and many others, renovating Roberts Stadium into a mid-sized arena was the correct decision.

Given the above truths about constructing the Ford Center and renovating Roberts Stadium, it is basically impossible to claim the two would compete unless you decide to fuse and/or confuse the two concepts. So how could one accomplish this? It's simple- tell half-truths.

Whether it was intentional or unintentional, Mayor Weinzapfel always seemed to do a great job of confusing both himself and his followers of the difference between what we needed to do at Roberts versus what we needed to do at the Ford Center. Remember his comments in 2010?

" One alternative bandied about called for building a water park inside the stadium. But no one has come forward with a way to pay for that project, Weinzapfel said.

He speculated that private developers may be shying away from Roberts Stadium for the same reason city officials decided against trying to renovate it. A consulting firm hired to study the 54-year-old venue concluded it would cost as much as $91.9 million to make improvements meant to curtail the threat of flooding there and strengthen the roof so it could support more weight."

First of all, the half-truth becomes glaringly obvious when Weinzapfel mentions strengthening the roof which obviously isn't needed for mid-sized events such as indoor football, indoor soccer, minor league basketball, expo events, youth soccer and basketball tournaments, high school basketball tournaments, and misc other events.

But it turns out, the consulting report Weinzapfel was discussing focused on UPGRADING Roberts Stadium instead of DOWNSIZING the arena into a mid-sized arena...

Given Weinzapfel's above statement, we can see where he is telling a half-truth by being half right and half wrong. Indeed, Weinzapfel was right about the enormous costs and disadvantages of upgrading Roberts Stadium into a facility that would compete with the Ford Center. But on the other side, he was completely wrong about Roberts Stadium being in a state where private developers would have to spend over $90 million if they were to buy it.

Even worse is the fact that Mayor Winnecke took the bait. At our first task force meeting, Winnecke told our task force that we could not come up with an idea that "competed with the Ford Center." Wait, if constructing the Ford Center was necessary because it gave us an arena that had 3x the roof support, modern revenue generating amenities, as well as extra bathrooms to comply with ADA regulations, HOW CAN ROBERTS STADIUM COMPETE WITH THE FORD CENTER?

This past year, the Roberts Stadium Task Force that I sat on debunked Weinzapfel's claim when the construction manager and architect on our committee came up with a $4-4.5 million price tag for renovating Roberts Stadium, which included the roof, the restrooms, and the concourses that Weinzapfel himself talked about...

(Page 9)

With all of this evidence staring Weinzapfel's half-truths right in the face, one would think that he would have done the right thing by coming out publically in support of downsizing Roberts Stadium as a compliment to the Ford Center project he guided the city into constructing. Unfortunately, a speech posted in the Courier & Press back in September shows that Weinzapfel is still clinging to his half truths after all these years...

"I would like to start by playing a game of MythBusters. Many of you have probably seen the show on TV. The general idea is that the show's hosts use elements of the scientific method to test the validity of rumors and myths. With hindsight being 20/20, I would like to take a look at the various aspersions cast on the arena project and debunk them one by one."

I hate to break it to the former mayor but no one debunks myths from the truth about Roberts Stadium better than this blog...

Myth number 10

"There is nothing wrong with Roberts Stadium. We should just renovate it instead of building new downtown."

There is actually some validity to this myth up to a point. We could have done absolutely nothing.

If Weinzapfel would have stopped right there we would have finally gotten him to admit his half-truths. In these two sentences, he basically gives away why Roberts Stadium would have worked perfectly fine as a mid-sized arena. When he says "we could have done absolutely nothing" he is basically conceding the fact that Roberts Stadium was a healthy arena and was only being mentioned for renovations because it did not fit the current premier arena market.

It would have been oh so nice if he would have stopped there and admitted that Roberts Stadium was not the problem, that the problem was that we needed a new arena to compliment this facility. But unfortunately, he decides to go on...

"We could have ignored the problems inherent in the building and let someone else deal with it in the future. Maybe that is what a lot of people would have preferred. But, the fact was that sooner or later someone had to do something.

Roberts Stadium was 50 plus years old. Our consultants said that we'd have to spend up to $17 million over the next three to five years just to keep Roberts open. These costs are just part of an extensive list of deficiencies that would cost $40 million to correct. The concourses and aisles were too narrow and the seats were too small. The heating and air system was on its last leg. There weren't enough rest-rooms and they weren't up to code. Most importantly, Roberts was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Second, there were major structural problems that, along with the other deficiencies, would cost $90 million to fix. Many acts passed on playing at Roberts because the rigging isn't strong enough to support the weight of their equipment. And the floor at Roberts Stadium was not regulation size. It was too small for hockey, arena football and any other event that utilizes a standard floor size. Even if those acts could play Roberts, they'd have a hard time getting in there. The truck docks are too small.

Our consultant said it would cost us at least $90 million to try and renovate Roberts and make it lasting and competitive. In essence, we would have to build a new facility."

Yup, after the task force report was released that showed a much cheaper and realistic price tag, after all the citizens who took the tour of Roberts Stadium during our 2nd public session, and after seeing the city lose an indoor football team while a minor league basketball team was never allowed to get off the ground, Weinzapfel STILL decides to cling to his half-truths by citing a consultant report that focused only on using Roberts Stadium as a premier arena.

If Roberts was not in compliance with ADA why was it never shut down by anyone in building codes enforcement? Renovating Roberts Stadium to a mid-sized arena would have given it proper dimensions for indoor football (I worked many hours with the Rage to accomplish this). How many indoor football games are being played at the Ford Center?  And once more, why do we need to strengthen the roof, widen the concourses, renovate the docks, or perform any of the other renovations for a premier arena if we weren't shooting for a premier arena? Lastly, if the heating and air conditioning was going out, why did the HNTB Report list the boilers, chillers, and tubes as all in good condition?

What makes Weinzapfel's speech completely hypocritical is the following line...

"It is appropriate and healthy for the people of Evansville to question the proposal to build a new arena and to challenge their elected officials. That is an important part of checks and balances essential if our democracy is going to succeed.

The issue is what people do with the information. It seemed that a culture of opposing change is what dominated the public discourse about this project, not a yearning to make sure it made sense.

We can't be successful as a community if we are going to operate with blinders on or oppose anything that comes down the pike. Change is inevitable, change is necessary to keep us competitive in a global economy, change means we will grow as a community. It can be very uncomfortable. But if a community is not moving forward, it is falling behind. Doing nothing is no longer an option."

That's right, the mayor who still refuses to relent on his half-truths, refused to lift one single finger to investigate, much less support, downsizing Roberts Stadium, and refused to come out against Winnecke's dog park proposal (I guess he thinks a dog park is moving Evansville forward) is now telling us that we the people of Evansville shouldn't be putting our blinders on. Jonathan Weinzapfel: Pot Meet Kettle.

Weinzapfel then leaves us with this line...

"Lastly, this community needs a shared vision."

So the mayor who gave us an ultimatum of the Ford Center or Roberts Stadium is now telling us we need a shared vision? Tell us Weinzapfel, why should supporters of Roberts Stadium put any skin into a shared vision when both you and Winnecke refused to let us bring mid-sized events to Evansville by telling half-truths that pitted Roberts Stadium against an arena it has never competed with? 

When Weinzapfel held a press conference on the lot the Ford Center now sits on, I came out to support him and the construction of the new arena. But when I as well as many other residents of this city asked him and the city to support us in downsizing Roberts Stadium so that it would compliment his new arena, he refused and ran and hid. 

It would seem to me that if our city truly wants a shared vision, we need to move past those who come in the name of creating a shared vision but only want to implement their own projects while refusing to support other projects. When we do that, we will have a shared vision. But until then, it's just going to be more half-truths....

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hank Roberts: In His Own Words

Below are seven pages written by Mayor Hank Roberts himself in 1959 when he was running for office once more after having served a previous term lasting from 1952-1955. In these seven pages, you will find Roberts' qualifications, accomplishments, and platform for why he should have been re-elected in the fall of 1959. 

As you read through the pages, ask yourself this question: Would you vote for Hank if he ran for mayor in 2015? The reason I ask that you ask yourself that question is because I want you the citizens and residents of Evansville to see just how far we have fallen from the days of Benjamin Bosse and Hank Roberts.

Since Roberts left office, we have yet to see anyone bring the amount of talent he possessed to the mayor's office. Roberts embodied the soul of the city of Evansville by being involved in many organizations while having the guts to take on many bold projects. There is one reason why we have not seen a mayor replicate the success of Hank Roberts, and that is because he has been the last mayor who stood for something.

With all of that being said, I present to you Hank Roberts: In His Own Words...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oh The Irony! Even The Dogs Have Benefited From Roberts Stadium!

We've seen so many double standards, half-truths, and ironic situations that this next story should come as a surprise to no one. But indeed, there appears to be yet another ironic situation about the destruction of Roberts Stadium in favor of One Term Winnecke's dog park. It turns out, over 45 years ago, there was already an event for dogs and it was INSIDE Roberts Stadium...

That's right, back on October 16th of 1967, there was a dog show inside the four walls of Roberts Stadium, and it accomplished everything Winnecke has said he wanted to accomplish on the site today. For example...

Was it something for everyone?

" There were short people, fat people, beautiful people, rich people, and eccentric people..."

Did it bring in tourists who put heads in beds?

" Owners and trainers drove from around the Midwest to enter their canine beauties."

Was it a good draw?

"Every kind of dog except the tattered, briar-and-tick-infested hound dog from down on the farm was there."

We were told by Winnecke himself that he wanted to craft a plan that was something for everyone (yea right!). Yet, the plan he has crafted is 180 degrees from this goal. Not only are mid-sized teams, events, and shows such as minor league soccer, minor league basketball, indoor football, trade shows, USI preseason and postseason basketball tournaments, and many other functions being left out in the cold, even the green space supporters who made away like bandits in all of this got the short end of the stick with Winnecke's plan.

Because of the actions of Lloyd Winnecke and the Parks Department, we will no longer have an affordable venue to host competitive, regional, and maybe even national dog shows. We will also no longer have the opportunity to establish an indoor trail hub for the greenway where residents can walk their dogs when the weather outside is busy. Sure, they will be able to walk them through the newly proposed dog park (if it's built) but it will be nothing new or different from the State Hospital Grounds and/or Kleymeyer Park, nor will it put heads in beds or fill up revenue generating seats.

Next time someone asks you "Who let the dogs out?" you will now know the answer- It's Lloyd Winnecke. Not only did he let them out, he also left them out of the chance to compete!