Friday, January 28, 2011

Dear Richmond, If You're Gonna Build A Coliseum.....

So the proverbial "next step" has at least been spoken by those who, thanks to $150K from four area companies, did a study on where to put a replacement for the Richmond Coliseum and how big it should be built.

Of the four proposed locations, they like a parcel of land next to the current Coliseum, which opened about 40 years ago. Sadly, this parcel is the smallest of the four and provides the least flexibility for parking.

(Insert pause to fume slightly here.)

Meanwhile, the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park is withholding judgement on the site, because it is currently seen by them as a bridge connecting their endeavor with VCU Medical Center.

So, according to the article in the Times-Dispatch, here are some "good points":

1) The Mayor likes the recommended site.
2) The Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau likes it, as it keeps the arena next to them. The article also states how it keeps it close to entertainment venues, which I can agree with if we're talking The National and Richmond CenterStage. Shockoe Bottom? Not so much.


Now for my thoughts......

1) Why pick the smallest parcel of land available? If this parcel is adjacent to the Coliseum site, why not use a block or two of it as well? Especially in light of the two most important things, in my view.


2) This article, as many before it, use the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a "measuring stick" or "holy grail" of sorts as to what kind of seating capacity you'll need in a new arena in order to successfully bid for events of this nature. Right now, the plans are around 14,000 with a stage, 15,000 in the round. Apparently some people connected with this study think 15,000 seats are plenty to get the Tournament back to Richmond for the first time since 1996.

I was there when the Tournament first came to Richmond in 1990. It was an incredible experience, the type Richmond rarely gets to enjoy and take advantage of. The nation's eyes watched us. In 48 hours, there was a major upset due to a 28-foot shot near the end of a game, the end of Terry Holland's career as head coach of UVA, both Jim Boeheim and Digger Phelps brought their teams to play, and future NBA stars like Derrick Coleman took the floor. CBS Sports was there, in fact, their "A" team, at the time, of Brent Musberger and Billy Packer were there. Yes, there were three other sites playing games on the same two days, but suffice to say Richmond, Virginia got its name all over CBS that wonderful March weekend. You can't buy that sort of publicity, even today.

I do NOT think 15,000 seats will be enough to make this a reality again in the RVA. Let's look at the sites being used for the 2011 Tournament, remember that there's now four "play-in" games as the field is up to 68 teams.

PLAY-IN GAMES: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH--Capacity: 13,455

(Note: Dayton has hosted the one play-in game in previous years since 2001....)

FIRST/SECOND ROUND: Verizon Center, Washington DC--Capacity: 20,173
McHale Center, Tucson, AZ--Capacity: 14,545
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO--Capacity: 19,155
St. Pete Times Forum, St. Petersburg, FL--Capacity: 20,500
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH--Capacity: 20,562
Time Warner Arena, Charlotte, NC--Capacity: 19,568
United Center, Chicago, IL--Capacity: 20,917
BOK Center, Tulsa, OK--Capacity: 17,839

We see the following trends:

1) Only two arenas seat less than 18,000. The smallest, in Tucson, is on a college campus (University of Arizona) with a long history of tourney success, though not recently.

2) Five of the eight arenas are used by NBA teams.

3) Richmond's best (and in my opinion, only) hope, by building a 15,000 seat arena, would be to steal the first games from Dayton. But, trust me, to many die-hard March Madness fans, the one game these past 10 years have been forgettable. Heck, people don't even count them in the office and online pick 'em games and pools. Now, the two-night doubleheader concept starting this year may add some luster to it, but frankly, if you want any chance of having the best teams in any given year to come to your town's arena in the first two rounds, you better have the seats available to host what I still call Rounds One and Two, but will henceforth be called "Rounds Two and Three".


Away from basketball, Richmond is constantly in competition with other metro areas for major arena "events" (concerts, wrestling, MMA, preseason NHL and NBA, etc.), and, Richmond usually loses. With the opening of the beautiful John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville a few years back, C'Ville actually jumped ahead of Richmond when it came to a great choice for concert promoters, et al. This was a collective slap in the face to Metro Richmond.

So why would Richmond now build something new that has essentially the same seating as Charlottesville? Don't we need to differentiate ourselves from JPJ?? As for concerts, the lure of JPJ being located at a place as prestigeous (and full of 20-somethings) as the University of Virginia sure looks better to me than the Richmond response of VCU, as a fair number of students there don't live on campus.


So, Richmond, if you're gonna build a Coliseum, and I know it may not be a reality for another ten years, take this time and opportunity to build in increases in seating, parking, and amentities (suites, etc.) so two things happen:

1) When it opens, Richmond FINALLY has a first-class arena worthy of a city twice our size, rather than settling for one which is equal to one in a city MUCH SMALLER than us 1.3 hours up I-64....

2) Thus, build it for the year 2040, not the year 2020. I expect 20,000 seats will be needed for events long before 2040 due to natural population growth.

CLOSING: My fear is they build a 15K seat arena that will disappoint. My hope is that they would take some space from the current Coliseum site, if they adjoin, and make it an 18-19K seat arena that will position Richmond for a number of economic opportunities in the future.

After all, did any of you think, 15 years ago, that Oklahoma City, with a population even with Richmond, would be home to a successful NBA franchise? I bet someone was forward-thinking in OKC years ago, which made this a reality.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Random Football Thoughts.......

1) Now I'm a fan of Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler for two reasons. First, he's a good punter on my favorite team. Second, he's got guts to speak his mind over the inane decision by good ol' Al Davis to let Tom Cable go as head coach. Just as it looks like the Raiders are FINALLY pointing the ship in the right direction, they let go a coach loved by the players. And the old-timers, like Lechler, have now seen six coaches come and go

2) Another bad domino falling here is the development of Jason Campbell. Yes, if Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach, the offensive scheme will stay, but what if he goes to San Francisco? How many times did Campbell have to change offensive schemes during his Washington tenure with their "coordinator coaching carousel"? Coming to Oakland was supposed to end that.

3) They (the Raiders) better keep McFadden and Bush happy. The only way our renaissance continues is with the continued improvement of our running game. Look where Kansas City is thanks in large part to Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

4) Could someone please show Derrius Heyward-Bey the door? Our first round drafting in odd years lately has been, ah, suspect.

2009: Heyward-Bey
2007: JaMarcus Russell (oh my word....)
2005: Fabian Washington (now in Baltimore)

Thankfully, we can look back at 2003 and see success in Nnamdi Asomugha.

2001: Derrick Gibson (retired)
1999: Matt Stinchcomb (retired after leaving for Tampa Bay)

Needless to say I am not holding out much hope for the 2011 Draft, but at least we won't be picking in the Top 5, right? :) BTW, if the Raider War Room needs advice, draft DEFENSE! Only exception is to get a can't miss offensive lineman.


ITEM: Vince Young and Tennessee part ways. Excellent move by the Titans. I don't think Young's career is over, he just has to land in the right spot where there are people who can put up with him. He also needs to stay healthy! And, yes, I'm already hearing rumblings about Vince and the Raiders. Just what we need, THREE possible answers to "Who's at quarterback this week??"

I'll look back at my 2010 Preseason predictions soon. I whiffed on some (San Francisco, anyone?), nailed others (Cincinnati) and was right in saying no team coached by Wade Phillips or Norv Turner would make it to a Super Bowl.......

Unlike most TV and internet talking heads, who now "re-predict" the post-season, since my original Super Bowl picks are alive, I'm staying with them. It'll be an NFL miracle if they make it, but if they do, the Colts and Packers both will have to win three to get there, and Green Bay will have to do it ALL on the road (Indy gets the Jets at home Saturday night in their Lucas Oil finale.....)

We'll see! In the meantime, check out my new favorite weather site, where the buzz is of a possible southern snowstorm come Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Short Pump Lottery Ticket: $250,000 Ticket Sold in Short Pump, VA - wtvr

No multi-millionaire, but someone in the area is at least $250,000 richer today.

Early Wednesday Random Thoughts.....

Our first two deaths of note for 2011:

1) Gerry Rafferty--I owned several 45s of his music in the late 70s; he was easily one of the most underrated male pop vocalists of that era. One reason? Radio played "Baker Street" to death and ignored other songs that were as good or better (Home and Dry, Get It Right Next Time, Right Down The Line, The Royal Mile....). I suspect some thought all these years he was a one-hit wonder. Only 63. Sad.

2) Hanover County loses a fixture as Gospel Chickenhouse founder Ray Pollard passed away at age 89. I remember it opening in Montpelier in the 1970s and going there as a little boy and all the excitement that little idea on a farm generated then, and continues to do so. Ray may be with the angels, but the ministry, I hope, will keep on rolling (if I may use an egg analogy).


TV, RADIO, INTERNET, et al.......CUT the Christmas commercials. NOW! I'm sick of Lexus and Hyundai specifically. It's January 5th. That "December to Remember"? Only a memory now, guys. Enough is enough.


Congrats to Jason Paige for becoming the new Production Director over at Main Line Broadcasting (The Wolf, Liberty, Big Oldies). Good find. I would have loved to have been offered the position, but alas. One day my ship WILL come in.


Note to ESPN---I am available to fill Ron Franklin's position, and will refuse to call any woman there "sugarcakes" or whatever it was he was stupid enough to say. Good Lord, it's 2011, not 1911!


There MUST be more worry than being let on in public around inner NFL circles about a possible work stoppage in 2011. In any other year, with so many coaches on the grill, would we see this little activity? No. Marvin Lewis? Gone. Gary Kubiak? Probably out. Jack Del Rio? Maybe.

But instead, Minnesota keeps their interim (good move!), Dallas may end up doing the same, Carolina is looking at some OC's and DC's around the league, while Jacksonville, Houston, and, shockingly, Cincinnati are staying put. And the name Bill Cowher is not coming up much at all.

All of this non-action is telling me that things aren't as sure-fire for an eventual deal as this fan would hope.

The NFL has THE BEST thing going in sports today, bar none. No one comes close. For the love of Pete (Rozelle), how could these sides NOT go in and just hammer out an agreement to keep this money machine rolling.

Because if they DO have a work stoppage and even the pre-season is affected, it will affect the NFL. They are playing with so much dynamite it isn't funny. Please, do not add 2011 to 1982 and 1987.

Just ask the NHL what cancelling a season does........
Or baseball canning a World Series in the middle of a hot pennant race......

Enjoy the playoffs, gang. It could be all for awhile.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Years Day---New Normal

New Years Day ain't what it used to be.

Once upon a time, college football ruled the day.

I know, some of you are thinking I'm nuts, because, what, six games were played today? But only one "mattered", and even that one has no implication on a so-called 'champion'.

New Years Day used to mean the Cotton Bowl on CBS with Lindsey Nelson, the Sugar Bowl on ABC with Keith Jackson, the Rose and Orange Bowl doubleheader on NBC, and the crowning of a 'mythical' National Champion. No BCS. Heck, I remember when the Fiesta Bowl was first moved to New Years Day!

Thus, no meaningless bowl games. Even if the two teams playing in a New Years Day bowl didn't have a chance to be voted number one, you were guaranteed the absolute best teams were playing.

As opposed to today, where Connecticut falls to 8-5 and Penn State 7-6. Texas Tech beats Northwestern. Yawn.

What should have happened today:

--Oregon beats Wisconsin in the traditional Pac-10/Big Ten Rose Bowl matchup.
--Arkansas outlasts Stanford in the Cotton Bowl
--Auburn beats Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl
--TCU upends Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

The AP votes Auburn, the UPI votes Oregon #1. And we all get to talk.

Yeah, yeah, this year we get to "settle it" on the field. But, do we really? TCU is unbeaten and proved today it can hang with "the big boys". No matter who wins in Glendale on 1/10, they won't be the only undefeated team.

And thus, not really "National Champs".


In other thoughts to kick off 2011---

--Long live the NHL Winter Classic! Even with the rain, the game was awesome. Whoever came up with this idea should replace Gary Bettman as Commissioner. Immediately.

--Robbie's room is painted in one night. He, Travis, and later Rachel, get the job done. So, some of Robbie's UPS-made money goes to a room makeover. Red with some black. Carolina Hurricanes? Yu-Gi-Oh?

--New Years Day on a Saturday throws me off. Monday morning is gonna jolt alot of people, I suspect.

--Oh, and it sure didn't feel like New Years Eve/New Years Day. For the first time, last night driving home from Stafford and moving Daniel, Krista and Cora in, it didn't "feel" like NYE.

Bring on week 17 of the NFL! :)