May 27, 2011

Exaggerating the Arena


I spent yesterday in Wyomissing, PA at a restaurant client of mine. Wyomissing is just outside of Reading and I happened to ask my client’s banker about Reading’s arena and if that’s doing anything for Reading’s downtown.
The banker said the arena has done very little, if anything, for Reading’s downtown. He noted that there was a recent article in the Reading Eagle which put the annual attendance at the Sovereign Center at only about 500,000, with about half coming from the hockey team.
I thought that was significant since it is well below Mayor Pawlowski’s projections of 1.5 million for the Allentown arena. The Allentown arena will hold 8,500 for hockey and 10,000 for concerts, so it is slightly larger than the Sovereign Center (7,200 hockey/8,900 concerts). Still, it does make Pawlowski’s estimates seem highly inflated. Also, the relatively small figure for non-hockey events was startling, since these types of events would have to cover the lion’s share of Pawlowski’s estimate (I figure there are only about 40 home hockey games in a season).
The banker also mentioned several bank clients who opened restaurants near the Reading arena (hoping for spinoff business from the arena crowd). These were successful restaurateurs who were enticed to open a downtown location by Reading’s City Hall (sound familiar?). The spinoff has not happened, and those restaurants are struggling.

Mike Schware
Allentown

UPDATE:Pennsylvania Senate Passes Eminent Domain Reform
 The Pennsylvania Senate on December 7 passed eminent domain reform legislation significantly curtailing the ability of state and local government to condemn private property for non-public uses. The bill, S.B. 881, the Property Rights Protection Act, responds to the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London and the widespread abuse of eminent domain throughout the state. Limits 'Blight' Designations S.B. 881, introduced by state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin/Northern York) and approved by the Senate in a unanimous vote, prohibits the use of eminent domain for commercial development and considerably tightens the definition of blight. Tightening that definition was particularly important because defining a property as blighted is a prerequisite for condemning it and transferring it to another private party. Exceptions were inserted to exclude from the bill's reach property in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Delaware County that has already been designated as blighted. The exceptions, however, will expire after seven years. Explaining the need for his bill, Piccola said the Kelo ruling "made people sit up and take notice and start to realize that in the face of activist courts and local government, private property rights might very well be threatened," according to the November 14, 2005 Greenwire. Limited to Public Uses "For too long, some local governments have threatened property owners in Pennsylvania with eminent domain for private profit," Piccola said in a December 7 news release. "My legislation will help end these abuses but not touch local governments' ability to acquire property to build everything traditionally considered a public use, such as roads, bridges, schools, and courthouses. "The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by the government and turned over to another citizen for non-governmental use is simply an outrageous proposition and something that was never intended by our founding fathers. The Property Rights Protection Act makes certain that home and small business owners in Pennsylvania know that they can keep what they have worked so hard to own," Piccola added. Far-Reaching Effects "Pennsylvania law was in dire need of reform," said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney at the Washington, DC-based Institute for Justice. "It allowed government condemnation of property merely for being 'economically or socially undesirable.' This definition put literally all property at risk. "This bill places unprecedented limits on eminent domain abuse," Berliner added. "The one glaring shortcoming is the temporary exceptions for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but even that does not dampen the near total victory this bill provides." "The Pennsylvania senate bill is the most comprehensive legislation in the country," said Steven Anderson, coordinator of the grassroots Castle Coalition. "It slams the door on runaway eminent domain abuse and completely redefines the overly permissive definition of 'blight' that has been repeatedly used as an excuse to take property from one private citizen and give it to another private citizen." Bipartisanship Noted "The bipartisan nature of this legislation is especially encouraging," Anderson added. "All around the country, Democrats and Republicans are uniting to put an end to eminent domain abuses. Of course, with poll after poll showing that upwards of 90 percent of the American public disagrees with the Kelo decision and feels that government should not take away a person's property merely to give it to another person for economic development, it shouldn't be a surprise that legislators from both parties are responding to the overwhelming will of the voters." "Take away the exceptions for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and S.B. 881 stands as a model for other states looking to prohibit eminent domain for the benefit of private businesses and developers," added Institute for Justice staff attorney Bert Gall in a December 7 news release. "Both cities have abused eminent domain in the past and certainly need no exception now, particularly since citizens that live in the excepted areas receive much less protection than everyone else. Fortunately, the exceptions will expire in seven years and all cities will then play by the same rules." Broad Coalition for Reform The bill received support from a broad range of organizations, including the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Farm Bureau, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The bill now heads to the state's House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly passed a similar and slightly more stringent eminent domain reform bill in November 2005 and is expected to approve the Senate bill. "The unanimous nature of the Senate vote speaks volumes to the bipartisan support for property rights and eminent domain reform," said Scott Bullock, another senior attorney for the Institute for Justice. Republicans and Democrats should both be applauded for passing this bill. "As the Pennsylvania legislature illustrates, the tide is turning against state and local governments that engage in eminent domain abuse," Bullock added.

28 comments:

gary ledebur said...

I read some data a while ago that for a downtown arena or athletic field to be successful there must be a large workforce that will stay for evening events. Allentown does not have that and will have to rely exclusively on suburbanites who will drive in. That is unless the Puerto Rican hockey team I heard mentioned on this blog ever so briefly, comes to fruition.

Anonymous said...

Still, that will be a half-million more people coming to downtown Allentown than this year. How many shopping trips per year did Hess Bros. generate back in the day?
Have a safe holiday weekend, everyone!

Anonymous said...

This isn't Hess's.

Anonymous said...

Gary is right about the downtown employment situation. Nobody works downtown other than the 'out the door at 5 p.m." government types. Does anybody really think they are going to sit at Cosmo for a couple or three hours until a minor league hockey team drops the puck? Does anybody really think people who work in the surrounding industrial parks will go home to their suburban homes and then double back to downtown Allentown? Does anybody think that Flyers fans will not watch their team on TV in order to watch the minor leaguers? Who thinks this stuff?

Anonymous said...

...cont. And with this taxpayer supported arena will mayor Rahm Palowski allow half of the city to be 'blacked out' of tv coverage by greedily awarding a contract to only ONE cable company, just as happened with the Iron Pigs and Taxpayer Park?

Anonymous said...

swindlers.

Anonymous said...

My support for the Bullying Bulldozer of Chariman Pawlowski and his Rubber Stamp Politburo, or complete lack thereof, is well documented.

However, I do find it hysterical that the PLD Cheerleaders are not even smart enough to cite the one well-respected sports economist, Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College, who might have some ammunition that they can use to fight their battle.

Say what one likes about taxPayer Park, but the IronPigs were # 1 for average attendance per game in all of 30-team AAA baseball last season and are currently leading this category again this term.

That being said...DO NOT expect similiar attendance statistics in terms of league leadership as the IronPigs from Pawlowski Pucksters.

KAISER KRAUT

Anonymous said...

MR. MOLOVINSKY,

Puerto Rican hockey team?

This notion clearly implies if Chairman Pawlowski's Pucksters were made up exclusively of Puerto Rican players, then Allentown's significant Hispanic population will flock to the Palace of Sport that was rubber-stamped by the Politburo.

How many different levels of RACISM can I find at work here?

For starters, Allentown's Hispanic population is not exclusively Puerto Rican; for confirmation of this statement, please reference The Morning Call's latest round of front-page articles with respect to Allentown's demographics.

And, lying just below the surface, is the accompanying notion that ALL Hispanics just don't like ice hockey --- while it is a fact that Hispanics generally prefer baseball or futbol (soccer) by a country mile depending upon different national ethnicity of origin, it is a stereotype, nevertheless.

And I thought stereotyping was just one, very small step away from RACISM?

Sincerely,

I HATE THE HYPOCRITICAL, RADICAL PROGRESSIVE LEFT

Anonymous said...

May 28, 2011 1:10 PM

"And, lying just below the surface, is the accompanying notion that ALL Hispanics just don't like ice hockey --- while it is a fact that Hispanics generally prefer baseball or futbol (soccer) by a country mile depending upon different national ethnicity of origin, it is a stereotype, nevertheless."
.
Is that true?
Did anyone bother to find out?
Regardless of race or
If it's important and civic enough to throw people out of their long held businesses, you might have some idea if your general population would support such an endeavor.
Ask anybody?

michael molovinsky said...

regardless of who attends the arena, or how many of them there are, will they stay and create spinoff business for the downtown? all evidence says no; even an article in today's Morning Call, about the new Sands Hotel, says that day trippers to an event leave after it's over.

Anonymous said...

http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/18436/Pennsylvania_Senate_Passes_Eminent_Domain_Reform.html
What happened?

Anonymous said...

Pennsylvania_Senate_Passes_EminentDomain_Reform.html

Anonymous said...

We have actually consulted with the Injustice Coalition on this issue. They stated that arenas are not "public use" but the governments keep abusing eminent domain to build them. They agreed to get involved, if the project plan (design of the arena) shows that there will be retail stores as well.

Maybe that is why they do not have a complete design of the arena yet? They are modifying it now to cover their tracks...

How can you come up with the economic impact, fiscal analysis, traffic analysis, COST, if they do not even know what it looks like?

Give me a break.....

Anonymous said...

Allentown has become what it is and all indications are evident where it is heading.

The economy and culture have changed and will continue to change.

To hold onto the old idea of gentrification of the downtown area is ludicrous.

If Allentown is going to become like Brooklyn it will need to occur through a natural community driven genesis.

Isn't it time that Palowski and his minions fettered throughout all of the authorities he has developed stop treating Allentown like it was a super version of Sim City?

Are they capable of realizing these are real live people living in Allentown and not some impersonal digital rendition?

Talk about racism. In an odd way that is what Palowski's organization is all about.

The exploitation of those he purports to support.

Anonymous said...

May 28, 2011 6:37 PM
CORRECT.
Excellent statement!

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:37, i have witnessed a large outpouring of support for the merchants in that block of hamilton by their customers. that is their mall, and they thought their city. none have indicated that they would prefer a hockey arena and event center. people elsewhere in the city, who might support the arena concept, would prefer a different location.

Anonymous said...

Thugocracy:
Allentown Pa's city government.

Anonymous said...

Eminent Domain: Institutionalized Robbery

>
http://www.articlemyriad.com/87.htm

Anonymous said...

If the Senate passed this bill how can city council even consider supporting this plan?

Anonymous said...

3 p.m. Saturday-Drove down 7th Street from the Mall. Cars tripled parked and industrial equipment clogging the city's main welcoming corridor. Litter and garbage everywhere. Pawlowski can destroy all the private property he wants, but until he takes this blight into consideration, he's losing the end game.

Anonymous said...

" Litter and garbage everywhere. "
An opportunity for the crooks that be to expand the Sweep Program and drag in some more citation money.
What a great deal!
Imagine if the mayors 2.5 million came through.... would the parking authority become one of the fortune five hundred?
We'll keep winning until we are all broke.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the cutting technique used to cut the grass at the I/78 Lehigh St into Allentown exit? Great sample of how the city welcomes visitors on this very special Memorial Weekend.

Anonymous said...

"Has anyone seen the cutting technique used to cut the grass?"
Please elaborate.
thanks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Has anyone seen the cutting technique used to cut the grass?"
Please elaborate.
thanks.

May 29, 2011 4:51 PM
Travel Lehigh St towards Home Depot from downtown Allentown, you'll see to the right a traffic triangle with portions of grass cut and portions left uncut. Looks terrible.

Anonymous said...

Arena digest???
http://arenadigest.com/201105203255/hockey/minor-league-hockey/new-allentown-arena-moves-forward

Anonymous said...

Folks are mad in Mississippi too.
This "legal" property theft being perpetrated by local governments must be stopped.
.
http://www.msfb.com/news/news%20releases/100304%20farm%20bureau%20launches%20eminent%20domain%20reform%20petition%20drive.htm
.
http://www.savingmyland.org/makeyourvoiceheard2.aspx

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does the prediction of 1.5 million patrons seem overly optimistic? That's drawing more than 4,000 fans each day the entire year.

VOR

Anonymous said...

If they do come, The City of Allentown will not benefit. Fool P has completely missed the Latino economy that operates under the radar along 7th St.

As poor as the statistics offically state, it may be there is a lot of commerce occurring that is not marked by occupancy permits, fictitious name filings, business income tax and all the other BS The City has exploited to kill off legitimate businesses in the city.

People adapt and move on. In this case with out Fool P and his cast of minions. Commerce is alive and well in Allentown don't kid yourself. Thank God.