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Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday News

Seventeen Dinos receive WHL scholarships. In total, 351 current and graduate players of the Western Hockey League were awarded WHL scholarships, representing a financial contribution of nearly $1 million. Wow, that's a whole $2,850 each. Say what you will about the NCAA's limit of 18 scholarships resulting in some players getting half and quarter schollys, but what's $2,850, half a semester?

Hockey player convicted for assault on linesman (SECOND ARTICLE)...

You have to love YouTube. With it players can post their highlight videos for prospective teams to view... as is the case with (now former) Fort Vancouver Pioneers goalie Ryan Stanchfield, who along with the rest of the Pioneers roster is now looking for a new home...

Fargo arena needs a tax break. Oh boy, here we go...
MSF officials lay blame for their hurried timetable on having to scramble for new financing this summer.

Furness said the Boston office of investment firm Cohen & Co. reassured the MSF through three parts of a four-step financing process that funding would be in place. But when the subprime mortgage crisis hit the markets, Cohen & Co. didn’t follow through, Furness said.

Construction was started "because we were virtually assured" by Cohen and Co. that financing would be in place, Furness said.

But things really went into hurry-up mode much earlier.

Signing former University of North Dakota hockey coach Dean Blais to coach a United States Hockey League team in the arena moved the timetable up a full year, Hintz said.

Instead of completing a five ice-sheet facility in 2009, getting the $25 million arena ready for the 2008 hockey season became the focus. An additional $12 million four ice-sheet facility is planned for 2009.

"Everybody was reassuring us," Hintz said. "We took some risks."

Financing is being prepped, but it’s not all in place, the MSF officials said. Of $15 million to be supplied by a consortium of local banks, $13 million has been secured, Berning said.
The funding for this project has been by the seat of the pants the whole time, putting it in the same category as such failed projects as Kimball Township (Port Huron), Michigan, Sarasota's Lakewood Arena, Cudahy, WI (I have the mock-up jersey designs for the USHL Cudahy Buckhorns somewhere) and Massillon's failed project (scroll down) for their UHL team formerly known as the Saginaw Gears. You don't start work on the project with partial funding, hoping the rest will come through. I've seen these slow-motion train wrecks before. You either have it, or you don't. You're either ready, or you're not. There is no half-way on this...

Fighting spirit has Warriors in playoff contention...

Minnesota Ice Hawks sign big forward from Twin Cities...

Reekie will find out what his future holds soon...

Rookie-laden Dauphin won't settle for OK record...

Six teams set to bid for 2009 MasterCard Memorial Cup...

Mooseheads enter bid for 2009 Memorial Cup...

Memorial Cup bid process will be intriguing...

Lashoff working at becoming a complete defenceman for Barrie...

Flyers sign former NAHL Bandit and current London Knight Pat Maroon to entry level deal...

Shawn Rogers back as Silverbacks Marketing Manager...

Holzapfel anxious to get back...

Kings defenceman trades skates for spurs (there's a SWJHL joke in here somewhere)...

Moose have found an exception in rookie...

Voracek 'a lock' to make the Blue Jackets next season?

Sudbury Wolves bowling for Easter Seals...

Blame players for Otters' coaching change...

Ftorek might boost Otters' gate - for a while...

Size doesn't matter to Salmon Arm playmaker...

Winter Hawks look into the future as top draft pick Bradley Ross finally suits up...

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Comments on "Friday News"


Anonymous barkeepnd said ... (9:36 AM, November 02, 2007) : 

gee what a surprise! the UPC isn't financially viable without a $500-$750k tax break, they knew this yet decided to build it anyway, and now want to put the city on the hook for $10m in bonds. and gee another surprise, they now admit financing WASN'T in place. i can't believe some people are still buying in to what this group is saying, but as evidently (judging by the vociferous and passionate arguement between friends at last night's jets game)some are. The arguement seems to be 'fargo needs a hockey arena and if we have to try to sneak it past the voters who have said NO to buildings by large majorities twice in recent history then that's ok, and all hockey fans should agree.' The entire UPC deal has smelled fishy from the getgo and as each new turn of events unfolds the stench just gets worse. Whatever the UPC ends up being it seems it will be a far cry from what was originally promised.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:23 AM, November 02, 2007) : 

great way to be seen, but I watched you play and that was the only good thing you did, post the rest of games for a full picture, don't be fooled.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:29 AM, November 02, 2007) : 

..that was his only game! HA!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:33 PM, November 02, 2007) : 


Barkeep - I don't get it. You want to complain about a purported scandal like it is some kind of conspiracy, yet the Fargo taxpayers aren't going to be out a dime. As the article mentions (and as Marc so conveniently left out of his commentary), the MSF (and their financial backers) are donating the arena to the Park District, who will seek a tax exemtion. This is no different than if the Park District financed and built the arena themselves from the start. At least, the MSF is trying to help the community get the facility off the ground through a private effort. It certainly would have never got off the ground if the PD tried it themselves. As long as the City of Fargo gets more ice sheets; the financial institutions get their money back; and the taxpayers aren't paying for it.........How is this a bad thing for Fargo?

Most of the longest operating arenas/rinks across the US are municipally-owned facilities anyway! You should do some research before before spouting off about things you don't have much knowledge on. Besides, even if the USHL team folds, it says they will most likely break even. And even if they don't and are in the red, as the article says, they can sell it outright or let it foreclose and go back to the banks. Again, where does the City lose out?

The UPC may very well end up being a far cry from what was envisioned (I use the word "envisioned" because there were never any promises made), but it will be more than what the City had in the first place. Ask yourself, is that such a bad thing???

It sounds like to me that there is an entrepenuerial spirit in Fargo who is trying to help the community and all you (and Marc) want to do is bitch. It is negative mentalities such as yours that stymies economic growth. You'll never know unless you try! Isn't that the American spirit??

And Marc, I thought you were a supporter of Junior hockey?


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (10:00 PM, November 02, 2007) : 

My problem with this project is simple. You don't start it without all the necessary funding. The landscape is littered with half-built arenas that tried. I have already listed four, a fifth would be the Millennium Arena in Las Vegas. Such projects carry an extremely high risk of failure. Do I want Fargo's arena (or team, for that matter) to fail? No. But I will not ignore the warning bells going off. Blind optimism only gets you so far.

That government bodies often own rinks and arenas is not a relevant point, especially when 1) most are outsourcing the management of said facilities (see: SMG) and 2) most still operate at a deficit (see Bloomington's arena as an example), which means the taxpayers ARE paying the bill. If it breaks even, then the taxpayers are still paying for it by virtue of the property being off the property tax rolls. That's lost tax revenue that has to come from somewhere.

I guess my biggest question of the moment is just where is the UP Center in terms of completion? Is the concrete poured? Has any steel superstructure gone up? The clock is now down to about 10 months. If anyone has any current pictures I'd love to see them, since there's no construction cam with which to monitor progress.

If there were no promises made with regards to the facility, I guess that also means there is no accountability. Sorry, but if you've been reading me for any period of time you'd know that such concepts are frowned upon in my world.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:11 AM, November 03, 2007) : 

Let me ask this. Why not start the construction without ALL of the funding in place if the financial backers are willing to take the risk? The true leaders of the City of Fargo are trying to do something positive for the community. And furthermore, the landscape is NOT littered with half-built arenas as you state. You site a only a few failed projects out hundreds of successful ones. Don't be selective in your statistics. Look at the whole picture. It's easy to pick out a few that fail because those are the ones you hear about and are familiar with. The fact is there are hundreds of projects that were successful. It's just that you don't hear about them because they're up and running and everybody's happy, or at least content.

Warning bells? Sure there is some risk here, as there is with any project of this nature and capacity. But don't get so panicky. You're reaction here seems to be "the sky is falling" before even giving this project a chance. Do you see my point?

Accountability? Let me assure you, there is financial accountability on a project of this magnitude.

Blind optimism? No. General optimism? Absolutely, because nothing like this succeeds without it.

And as I'm sure you are aware of, nothing in life is free. But there are good deals out there that the smart consumer seeks out. This is one of those good deals. Even if it doesn't, the the city will have lost some tax revenue for a short-lived period from an un-improved piece of real estate. Essentially that is what the taxpayers are giving up for a chance at having one of the finest arenas in the upper Midwestern US. It puts Fargo on the map, just as The Ralph has helped put UND and GF on the national stage. Also, don't forget, if it fails and the property goes into foreclosure, the tax exemption ceases and the City begins collecting tax revenues on a much more valued parcel than was previously appraised. I think this is a small price for the the City of Fargo to pay for a chance at such a fantastic opportunity for the entire community (ie. high schools, general public, etc.) and not just the USHL franchise. However, it is the optimism and excitement around the this new "Force" that gave birth to this opportunity to begin with. That's how capitalism works my friend, and is how this country came to be what it is.

And as for most arenas operating at a deficit. You are exactly correct on this one. Glad to see you did you're homework here (or maybe you just took a lucky guess, I don't know). But that is exactly why a vast majority of arenas and rinks around the country are municipaaly-owned. Many of these ventures are not very profitable if at all. Have you ever taken a close look at the operating costs/margins of an ice rink? It's not that pretty. But the public still desires them and are willing to pick up the small cost to operate them in their community. Again, as stated above, and I'm sure you will agree, nothing good comes free.

By the way, a few weeks back, there were was a good aricle and some good photos in the Fargo Forum online regarding the ongoing construction progress. Here is a tidbit from that article "Workers in hard hats labored Thursday on the west wall of the Urban Plains Center under gray, windswept skies. Crews from contractor Anderson Olaf and Son worked 20 feet below ground level and out of sight of nearby 32nd Avenue South as they prepared to raise the walls of the southwest Fargo hockey arena.
Friday, October 12, 2007 - The Forum - News" So, it appears civil earthwork, foundation and tilt wall fabrication efforts were underway and plans were to keep going full steam ahead thru the winter in order to meet the aggressive deadline of November 2008 for the main arena. I haven't seen any updates since then though.

Finally, I HAVE been following your website for quite a awhile as a BIG fan of junior hockey. And most of the time you are very informative. But I have noticed you have a tendency to "frown" upon many things. Why is this so? Even your website banner quote is indicative of this attitude. Cheer up man! Things aren't always that bad.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (3:48 PM, November 03, 2007) : 

Don't be selective in your statistics. Look at the whole picture. It's easy to pick out a few that fail because those are the ones you hear about and are familiar with.

I've been observing arena and stadium trends for about 20 years. Obviously, the publicly funded facilities don't fail since they are backed with bonds and/or a sales tax. Feel free to highlight some privately financed success stories since 2000. But hundreds? If there's that many (remember, private only), then I'm sure you can provide some examples.

But don't get so panicky.

Fine... we can revisit this in 12 months and see if the Force are indeed playing in the new arena.

Accountability? Let me assure you, there is financial accountability on a project of this magnitude.

Yup, and there is currently an effort to dump it off on the taxpayers...

That's how capitalism works my friend, and is how this country came to be what it is.

Capitalism.... capitalism... oh yes, I think I learned about that while I was earning my MBA in Marketing. Yeesh...

Have you ever taken a close look at the operating costs/margins of an ice rink?

Ever hear me talk about Blue Line? Yeah, I know about rink ops, and have several friends in the business.

But the public still desires them and are willing to pick up the small cost to operate them in their community.

It must be nice for folks up north to enjoy subsidized ice. We don't have that luxury down here in Texas - we just let capitalism do its thing...

But I have noticed you have a tendency to "frown" upon many things. Why is this so? Even your website banner quote is indicative of this attitude.

Maybe I'd just rather not see this USHL franchise turn out like the ones awarded to Springfield and Olathe. Otherwise, feel free to call me Mr. Negativity... :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:30 PM, November 03, 2007) : 

Ok Mr. Negativity, what exactly are you doing with that expensive MBA in Marketing? Just because someone has the piece of paper doesn't mean they know what to do with it.

As for privately financed arenas, I believe you said yourself there are quite a few in your backyard DFW Metro area. The numerous DP Star Centers are very good examples to start with. (BTW, I have a bit of experience in rink operations myself, not just some friends.) Dump is a bit strong too, don't you think?

And yes, we shall have to wait and see what happens next year. Until then, I say the glass is half full.


Blogger Marc Foster said ... (7:57 PM, November 03, 2007) : 

And just because someone posts anonymously to my blog doesn't mean they know what they are talking about.

I work in the strategic planning office for a university. I get to handle things like our accreditation, which is why it's so easy for me to poke holes in the USA Hockey regs. Compared to a SACS or AOA accreditation, the USA Hockey regs read like something from Dick & Jane.

My office is also knee deep in coordinating the performance improvement on campus. Ever hear of the Baldrige Award? We're working towards it.

But if you've been reading me for any period of time, you'd know that already.

As for the StarCenters, only one is what I would call an arena, and that's Deja Blue, home to the Tornado. The rest are just rinks with bleachers for a few hundred. But it's not like Tom Hicks had to get outside money to build any of his StarCenters.

There's nothing wrong with a half-full glass, except that, getting back to my original point, it should have been completely full before construction began.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:43 AM, November 04, 2007) : 

Seriously Marc, good work. That is a very noble and I'm sure a rewarding position. Please don't take my postings in the wrong light. I certainly did not mean to slam you. For the most part, you do a great job in promoting Junior hockey to the internet public. I, and many others I'm sure, appreciate and applaud you for. Keep up the good work!

BTW, I have to agree with you on the state of USA Hockey's regs.LOL

But, once again, I do have to ask this, why can't you start drinking from the glass half full? There's nothing wrong with that. The next batch is on its way! Don't blame the City of Fargo for wanting to quench its thirst. Remember there were a lot of community leaders and officials backing this plan. As you know, many times things don't go as exactly planned in the business world. So, do you throw up your hands or do you find ways to make them work?

Best Wishes to you and the City of Fargo. May the "Force" be with you!

(I know, I know...that was pretty bad, but I HAD to say it!)LOL


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