Metroparks snubs Dayton talent

Last time I bid on a Metroparks project was the last time I’ll ever bid on one. After I didn’t win, I asked to see the bid evaluation documentation- they hemmed and hawed- then burned their office down to avoid having to produce the paperwork as required by law.

It’s OK, they don’t pay their bills on-time either.

However, they are about to unveil a new corporate identity system for the entire system- and guess what- they went all the way to Grand Rapids MI to hire a firm to do the work.

Never mind there are some true national talents in Dayton who could easily have done award winning and effective work.

Off the top of my mind: Visual Marketing Associates who has done tons of work for sporting goods and outdoor products companies.

Real Art– again, a very talented group of graphic designers- who’ve done work for Paramount and Universal Studios, GM, and many others.

Graphica– they’ve done work with clients like GM and Nike.

Any one of the three above could easily have managed to do better work than the Michael Schwab rip-off look (scroll down to the posters for the National Parks) that the people from Michigan did.

Before local government hires outside the region, they should have to prove there isn’t anyone local who can do the same work. Here is a list of agencies and design firms in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus for them to choose from. Our economy is hurting bad enough without exporting dollars to Michigan.

Where to build the hockey stadium?

Well, it’s pretty obvious that Mandalay Entertainment is looking to take as much of a public handout as they can- figuring if the city gave away the store for a ballpark- how much will they give us for a “Ballpark village?”

So- since no plans for a hockey rink for the AA Dayton Bombers are being talked about over on the river- even though MetroParks is about to spend millions to build an outdoor covered rink to the East of the lame micro-rink they put up in the winter- I thought I’d make some suggestions for locations:

Best location: Corner of Brown and Stewart Streets on the new UD parcel. With a parking garage, this would give the successful restaurant strip on Brown more night-time business- and provide a place for UD students to get some exercise and entertainment (a lot of UD students are from the East Coast- and know hockey). Besides being centrally located, this location would do what the placement of 5/3rd field and the Schuster Center failed to do- tie to existing other attractions- to build on strengths, instead of trying to be an anchor to build upon. If either of those other projects had been built near the Oregon District- the OD would be the hottest property in Dayton- and the Convention Center would be even more attractive.

Second best location– on the river where Metroparks is currently going to build the new rink. This is only good because it helps bring year round traffic to the Ballpark area. It would actually shore up the Ballpark business district into a viable year round destination.

Third best: Place it as a centerpiece to the Sportsplex- which would hopefully bring it’s own development around it- giving the area a winter draw to balance the summer draws of softball tournaments.

Forth best: Build it next to UD Arena- with a garage. This turns the area into one big stadium city. Good for attracting a mini-Olympics. However, there is nothing else to do here- no food, no drink, and pretty soon- no Stewart street bridge for a while.

What we need to build: a double sheet facility- with at least 6500 seats in the main arena and 1000 in the second sheet. This allows a training facility, and tournaments to come to town. I haven’t been to the new Goggin at Miami- but I hear it’s pretty nice. It should also be a year round facility- since year round ice in Dayton is scarce.

Give the Bombers the kind of sweet heart deal the City gave the Dragons- and this town will be hockey crazy once again. As to why the Bombers have a hard-time drawing at the Nutter- besides some brand and marketing issues? Go look at UD Arena- then go look at the Nut house- end of story. The Nutter was built by committee, and run by the government- it’s in need of some serious investment to make it work well for- anything.

And, of course- the reason I’m writing this:

Dayton Dragons (single A) President Bob Murphy told a House subcommittee Thursday that the team’s life in Dayton has been a successful one, bringing jobs to the city and revitalizing a previously blighted downtown.

Murphy, testifying before the House Government Reform Committee’s Domestic Policy Subcommittee that included Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, said the partnership has been successful in part because the city of Dayton capped its costs, asking partner Mandalay Sports Entertainment to assume all construction cost overruns and repair and maintenance…

Murphy said since the Dragons came to Dayton, the number of market rate housing units has nearly doubled, WorkflowOne located its corporate headquarters next door to the stadium and more than 580,000 baseball fans annually come downtown to an area they’d previously nearly abandoned.

“A city with the proper tools and engaged partners and the right economic deal can create something that’s not only a benefit to the community, it can be a force that can change the community forever,” he said.

read the whold DDN story on how donating a stadium to out-of-town millionaires benefits us all

At least with an ice rink- us local yokels could play there when the “pro’s” aren’t- unlike 5/3rd field.

What could be paradise will be replaced with a parking lot

Instead of considering a world class, unique, sportsplex on the Parkside homes land- which would link Kettering Fields, the river, Island Park with the new Kroc Center- and could be a hub for economic development thanks to sports tourism-

the city hasn’t learned a damn thing from the Greene fiasco- with overbuilding- and putting local businesses out of business to be replaced with cookie cutter chain stores.

So- because we don’t have a brain between our 4 commissioners and mayor- we’re going to give away the sportsplex land- to build a super Wal-mart.

If you drive out Salem ave, or US 35 to Xenia- you can see where Wal-Mart built a store less than 10 years ago- and then picked up and moved across the street- leaving the “absolutely critical” development from 10 years ago- vacant.

I’d rather invest in our own social capital and build things for the people on public land- than sell it off to carpetbaggers- but, noooooo-

see the whole article in the Dayton Daily News- which wouldn’t dare write about the SportsPlex complex as a viable alternative to another Big Box Boink of the taxpayers- who undoubtedly will be asked to subsidize the developers with tax abatements and TIFF deals.

Ballpark Village could be ready for shoppers in ’09
North of Fifth Third Field and overlooking the river, the plan for Ballpark Village includes a gourmet grocery, shops, restaurants, a fitness facility and entertainment venues. At the Parkside site, the partners envision a shopping area anchored by a couple of big-box retailers.

Dickstein said the developer has two restaurants and up to four businesses interested in leasing space at Ballpark Village, and they’re talking to six big-box retailers for the Parkside site.

This ain’t Taco Bell-

Went to Taqueria Mixteca on E. Third Street today- you should too. Ever since I first tasted “genuine” Mexican tacos at the now long-gone “El Guapo Taco” – I’ve missed the cilantro, onion and beef version served with lime. Now, I have a source.

The old burger joint was filling up by noon- the service is at the tables, the menus are bi-lingual (although the staff may not be).They have a $5 lunch special that should fill anyone up.

No website- but here are the details you will need:

Open 7 days a week, 10a to 9pm. They have a drive-through (but it looked pretty slow). 1609 E. Third St. Dayton OH 45403. The phone is 937.258.2654 and they can probably fax you a menu.

Dayton has a growing Mexican community- and it’s nice to see something more authentic than Elsa’s, Carmels, or Pepitos popping up.

Speaking in the devil’s classroom-

Don Vermillion, former Montgomery County administrator invited me to speak to a graduate course at UD that he team teaches with DDN Editorial page editor- Ellen Belcher.

The course is about local government and the media- and they wanted a speaker to discuss using the Internet to raise hell (well you get the point) as compared to the DDN that uses it to try to make a living (well- you get the point again).

I followed the CoxOhio web-geek- who was suggesting using MySpace to build networks (something I wouldn’t ever recommend- keep your content on a site you own- or run serious risks)- and probably believed that buying keywords is also a good way to get hits (not). Needless to say- the DDN does such a lame web 1.5 implementation of social media that people should be embarrassed to post on it.

While I believe people in local government and public service need a much better education in how to use the web- and what web 2.0 means- I doubt they learned much from me in the  little over an hour I talked.

I tried to share some of the concepts of my websitetology seminar– compressing 7 hours into 30 minutes-  and I tried to explain how one will do battle in the future with people like Ellen who buy ink by the barrel.  I doubt I achieved much.

The key thing to remember is that content is king, and targeting a community to connect with is what will make the difference. No matter what you do- if it can’t be searched, indexed and show up at the top- you either better have lots of friends linking to you- or a big budget to advertise.

The web 2.0 thing could change politics as we know it- but it will take a whole bunch of people seeing the 2.0 light. It was scary when not a one of the students knew what an RSS icon was.

Sorry I didn’t do a better job folks.

And, even more sorry that UD thinks Ellen Belcher understands the role of the media. How many things would have been uncovered if the Dayton Daily News did some true investigative reporting? Would I have ever been arrested and prosecuted if they had put a stop to secret commission meetings that they were aware of? I’m sure it wasn’t good form slamming Ms. Belcher in front of her class for allowing music reviews in the DDN to claim they could tell the color of the artists by listening to the music- but, to this day- I still believe the DDN to be the cause of more racial tension in Dayton than any other single source.

I doubt I’ll ever be evaluated fairly in the DDN- that’s why I’ve been placing my ideas here for people to examine straight from my mouth. All in one place, all searchable, and accessible.

Will I go to hell for it? Let’s wait and see.

I was in the devil’s classroom tonight- the windows were open, it was hot- and I lived to write about it.

Dayton Most Metro thinks small

The first thing I’d abolish if I was the “HMFIC” (an Army term, not suited for proper use) is abolish the boundaries of “Downtown” in Dayton. To me, the Dayton Art Institute, Fifth Third Field, The Cannery, Miami Valley Hospital and UD are all Downtown- as are the Oregon District, South Park, McPherson Town, St. Annes Hill etc.

So when I see this post on Dayton Most Metro this morning- I think, damn, more small thinkers (of course, the admin’s of Most Metro are connected to one of the restaurants on the list- but still…)

“It may be Monday, but SPRING IS HERE!!!  So if you’re working downtown, you HAVE to get out there for lunch.  Click Here to see a map of all of the restaurants in the Downtown Dayton Central Business District.

Arcade Seafoods
Breakfast Club
China Royal
Christo’s Greek Deli
Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers
Dayton Racquet Club
Donut & More
Dugout Deli 
Flying Pizza
Gold Star Chili
Great Steak  & Potato Co.
Limbo’s Bar and Grille
Lucky Dragon
Mandarin Kitchen
Mister D’s Cafeteria
Moraine Embassy Bar & Grill
Mr. Hyman’s Fine Dining
My Favorite Muffin
Polo Grille at the Doubletree
Quizno’s Classic Subs
Roly Poly Sandwiches
Shannon’s Rockin’ Sub Shack
Spaghetti Warehouse
Subby’s (Downtown #1)
Subby’s (Downtown #2)
Swisher’s Cafe and Catering
Swishers Too Café & Catering
Terra Cotta Cafe
The 88 Club
Uno Chicago Bar  & Grille

So- I ask all of you- don’t think small- and think of coming down to Coco’s, Dewey’s Pizza, Milano’s, Thai 9, the Dublin Pub, Franco’s, Pacchia, etc. for your lunch on a wonderful Monday. Tell them Esrati sent you.

Take me to your leaders?

A question for my readers: Since the local political parties can’t seem to bring forward new leaders, who are the people you think could or should be stepping forward to run for Dayton City Commission?

Is there someone we could run as a write in- or a slate of two?

Who would make things interesting, and move things forward?

I’m going to start with a few names:

Amy Radachi of  Rebuilding together 

Devon Berry of DECA

David Bohardt of St. Mary Development Corporation

your turn:

James Cummings probably reads

Last week I wrote about 500 signatures vs. 50 and the lack of choice in the Dayton City Commission race. Today, James Cummings writes about the lack of choice in the Dayton City Commission race. I’d have a quote from him- but the DDN site won’t load anything but ads on the page for his column. It’s fixed now.

Try it on your own:

James Cummings: Newer faces needed in the political process

There’s something wrong with this picture. How many times have you heard someone say how much better the city would be if they were in charge? Where are those people now when there’s a chance to actually make some changes rather than just talk about them?

And the answer is: I’ve run or tried to run 6x. I’ve been arrested and persecuted by former Mayor and now Congressman Turner for 2.5 years- without any support from the Dayton Daily News- who at one time called me an “ad guy with not much to say.” Even when I had the endorsement of the IAFF (Firefighters union) it never made the press. The Democratic party seems content to run candidates like Matt Joseph who just collect a check.

It takes a lot of time and money to run- and it takes its toll. Without party support- it’s almost a guaranteed disaster. The only reason Lovelace ever won- was it was a special election- and I drew enough votes from Judy Orick and Mary Sue Kessler to allow him to win.

On the other hand, it’s kind of disturbing not having anybody in a city the size of Dayton step up to say “I think I can do better.”

Of course, if you go to screen for the party central committee when the decisions been made (or the deals brokered) you are seen as “disloyal” instead of as a person who is trying to raise the level of discourse in a city in desperate need of new ideas.

So when Matt Joseph says:

“It’s just wrong for a city this size to have uncontested city commission races,” Joseph said. “It’s an honor to serve as a city commissioner in Dayton, and we should be having good people trying to beat me.”

Next time- ask the party floor for challengers- and be willing to debate them on issues. Put your seat in play every year- instead of expecting a rubber stamp, that would be putting your money where your mouth is.

I guess there is a “Lesser Cleveland”

The first mistake in branding NE Ohio is the name of the organization promoting Cleveland.
If there is a “greater” there must be a “lesser”- when we can’t fall under one banner- adding adjectives only dilutes the brand.

Multimillion-Dollar Ad Campaign To Promote NE Ohio – Yahoo! News
A Cleveland-area economic development organization is launching a multi-million ad campaign to help strengthen the image of northeast Ohio.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership, an organization of more than 17,000 northeast Ohio businesses, met Tuesday morning for its annual meeting

The group said there are a lot of positive change under way in Cleveland, with GCP initiatives attracting millions of dollars in business development, major sporting events and job creation.

However, the stigma of being the poorest big city in the nation remains, GCP leaders said.

The Dayton Ad Club had the same stupid idea- renaming themselves the “Greater Dayton Advertising Association” throwing away 100 years of brand equity to appease some suburbanite who thinks that they aren’t a part of Dayton and that the word “club” wasn’t professional enough. Face it- no one is going to say I’m going to visit “Greater Cleveland” or fly into “Greater Cleveland International Airport”- they’re going to Cleveland.

Let’s hope Dayton doesn’t get caught up in the same stupid thinking. We’re Dayton, and we’re proud.

A regional sports authority: a vision worth funding

How many WNBA players are from Dayton? How many NBA players? How many NFL? How many MLB? And how did they get there? Successful youth sports programs develop talent.  Now, imagine if instead of spending money luring companies with tax breaks- we lured them with an amazing youth sports development program- with first rate facilities, and even programs for adult sports leagues?

Investing in our own social capital is a guaranteed return- giving tax breaks is gambling with our future income streams. So, instead of paying all these slick salespeople we call “Economic Development Directors”- we instead invested in the following:

  • World class sports tournament facilities- complete with scoring and stats systems, with a coordinating mechanism to our travel and tourism industry for hosting huge sporting events like the Warrior Soccer Classic, the Police Softball Tournament, SilverSticks etc.
  • Centralized facility scheduling for practices and league events- area wide. Need a basketball court? Need an opponent? Need refs? Go to one place and get the whole caboodle.
  • An organized sports training program. Coaches, refs, scouts and tiered league programs to make sure every participant is playing to their best level. From beginner to elite leagues- it’s coordinated centrally so as to make sure our best get the best coaching and competition.

Instead of building more housing, retail or office space in the heart of downtown (Ballpark Village) we would build actual ball parks- for every level and every sport- from t-ball to roundball. High visibility from I-75 also sends a message that Dayton knows how to play- and where to play.

If you don’t think there is economic value to this- take a look at this article:

The economics are easy to understand, albeit difficult to calculate.

Unlike many adult events, youth tournaments bring whole families. They fill up hotels on the weekends, eat at restaurants, and buy Gatorade, socks and gas. And when it comes to raw visitor spending, some experts say the impact can far exceed professional athletics.

It may not be flashy or come with merchandising, ancillary commercial development and throngs of spectators, but youth athletics are lining city coffers.

“It’s huge, especially for a community Plano’s size,” said Mark Thompson, director of the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau. “You can have a nice tournament with a bunch of adults. But for a youth event, when you bring in 50 teams, you also bring in mom and dad, sister, and grandpa and grandma half of the time.”

In Denton, a single girls softball tournament last year generated more than half the economic impact of that city’s share of a nearby NASCAR race, according to data maintained by the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau. Read more… 

If this sounds like my Dayton Sportsplex idea – you’ve been paying attention.

Dayton is a hotbed of sports talent- but we could manage it even better as a way to generate income. By sitting at the “Crossroads of America” of I-75 and I-70 we could become a sports tourism destination. And with the huge Parkside homes acreage combined with Island Park, Deeds Point, Kettering Fields and the new Kroc Center- you start to have a formidable attraction- that can’t be duplicated elsewhere. Of course, we could give huge tax breaks and give away the land to Mandalay Entertainment to build a Super Wal-Mart, some New Urbanist faux downtown and more “market rate” housing on this prime space- if the powers that be, don’t wake up and smell the ball fields.

I spent some time last week talking to County Commissioner Dan Foley, who thinks that this may be worth looking at. The question is- can we get some other players to the table and get serious about investing in things within our own control and taking charge of our own destiny- or are we going to continue to kowtow to carpet baggers and predators with promises and plans to profiteer at our expense.

What do you think?