Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jeff Jacobs Won't Shut Up

Grandma Is A Total Stranger Since She Caught Her Nose In The Record Changer Hey, Ass-Face

In another one of his skewed Hartford Courant columns, from December 21, 2005, Jeff Jacobs wrote:

With the Wolf Pack's 20th home game of this season, the Connecticut Development Authority has the right to terminate its Civic Center management agreement with Madison Square Garden, based on substandard attendance and revenue. The state is losing about $4 million a year on a deal signed in 1997. The way it has been presented publicly is that if the CDA doesn't pull the trigger by Jan. 21, MSG will hold all the options until the conclusion of the contract in 2013.

"The agreement with MSG has early termination rights that can be engaged by either party," the president of the CDA, Marie O'Brien, said. "The 20th game is only one of the opportunities. It's not the only one." The others? "The end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2006, and also the end of 2007."

Howard Baldwin, the man desperately trying to convince the CDA that a vision is a good thing, picked up the phone and was told of the other dates. "First I've heard of it," Baldwin said from Southern California. "I hope this is not a stalling tactic."

Baldwin wants to move sooner than later. He wants an AHL team next season and to build toward gaining the NHL's interest. The critics say Baldwin is a pipe-dreamer. The critics say the CDA is inert. The critics say MSG has no interest in making Hartford anything more than a fancy bedroom in its tri-state castle.

Somewhere, sometime, the right people have got to decide what is right for the future of Hartford. And what better time to start than today when the CDA board meets to discuss and presumably approve a study of the Civic Center's future.

"We don't need a study to tell what we already know: The state is losing tons of money, and we're on the verge of continuing to endorse huge losses for the state," House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, said.

The CDA should have started a study last February, when Baldwin had made his intentions clear. The fact is the CDA didn't. So get to work, CDA, you are on the clock. With a new convention center and residential units being built downtown, the CDA wants to examine the changing market place.

"MSG has done a great job on the hockey end, but they're either meeting their benchmarks or they're not," Baldwin said. "And if they're not, why not say, `Who's out there?' It may not be me. There may be someone else who could do a better job, make a better proposal. They're protecting an agreement that isn't working. For whatever reason, the CDA seems to be so afraid to take any action."

Added Amann, "I hate to even say it, but this arrangement reminds me of all that was wrong with the John Rowland/Arthur Diedrick tenure. It would be a shame, not to mention a colossal budget blunder, to sit back and act like there's no problem."

MSG has said it would never stand in the way of anyone bringing an NHL franchise to Hartford. But at this point, Howard's the only guy who can pull it off. Yet if he's not allowed to nurture that cause, MSG would never have to worry about anybody bringing the NHL here.

All possibilities should be on the table. In the end, this is not a good-guy, bad-guy thing. It's a what's-best-for-Hartford thing. Even if the CDA is convinced Hartford is minor league, at the very least it should be able to get a better deal from MSG and save the taxpayers money. There's a need to do the right thing. Starting today.

Today, a follow-up article in the Courant, written by a staff writer, set the record straight:

The Connecticut Development Authority on Wednesday approved a long-term study of the future of the Hartford Civic Center - a vote that puts the short-term hockey dreams of Whalers fans and former team owner Howard Baldwin on hold.

Saying that the building is obsolete, that the Whalers never made money and that the NHL "couldn't wait to get out of town," authority Vice Chairman Richard T. Mulready said that the prudent course is to study the Civic Center's potential - or lack thereof.

There are too many questions before a decision can be made about what to do with the building, Mulready said. The study is expected to take several months.

But the move upset those who were hoping that hockey could return, and that the state would move more quickly to take up Baldwin's offer to take over operations of the Civic Center.

"I'm not surprised that the Connecticut Development Authority basically has decided to turn Hartford sports and entertainment into a bureaucratic quagmire," said House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford. "I can't sit idly by and watch the Civic Center continue to drain taxpayers while the CDA basically sticks their heads in the sand."

Authority officials say that the annual losses have nothing to do with the contract with MSG, but are the result of rent payments, debt service and capital improvements that must be paid each year.

On Wednesday, Mulready reminded the board that, should it want to, it will have numerous opportunities in the future to get out of its contract with MSG, which runs through 2013. At this point, he said, haste is not in the authority's best interest.

L. Scott Frantz, chairman of the authority's board, defended the authority's move. "We appreciate [Amann's] interest in the future of the Hartford Civic Center very much; we'd love for him to participate in our analysis," Frantz said. "Our meetings are public, everybody's phone numbers are publicly available and we'd encourage him to give us his ideas directly."

In other words, "Shut the fuck up."

Anyone dumb enough to get suckered in by the publicity stunts of Howard Baldwin as he shuffles from town to town with his pockets empty, crying "The NHL is coming! The NHL is coming!", shouldn't be handing out lectures about fiscal responsibility.

Hartford got into the NHL basically through the back door, when the NHL absorbed the WHA into the league. The NHL clearly struggled in Hartford, with the Whalers drawing only about 10 to 11 thousand fans per game during their last few seasons. The Wolf Pack this season are struggling also, drawing less than 5000 fans per game. Based on those numbers, if the Wolf Pack leave town like Jacobs and his loonies all seem to want, neither the NHL or the AHL will have much of an incentive to put a team back in Hartford, and the city would likely end up at most with a team in the UHL or ECHL. How is that "what's best for Hartford"?


Anonymous Al Victor's nut sack said...

Will you pleaseE-mail Jacobs this page and tell him to shut up.
But then again the last name and money says it all.

12/23/05, 9:06 AM

Blogger Brushback said...

There's been plenty of message board chatter about this topic, of course; one post had this to say (and I don't know if this is all factual, but it's still interesting):

"And then he went to San Francisco where he tried to buy an expansion team. Of course, as with anything that Baldwin does, he doesn't have enough money to actually buy the expansion team. So what happens? He completes a deal with George Gund, which would have completely ***** the North Stars just so he could buy another team. Even then, he still gets his hands on the North Stars until he doesn't have enough cash to hold his interest in the team and sells them.

And then we come to the Penguins. He doesn't actually have enough money to buy the Pens (are we seeing a pattern here?), so he basically leverages every good deal the Penguins have to get the money to buy the team, killing their future revenues for a short term money grab. Along the way, he continues to leverage any deal he can for short term money to continues running the team into the red. In the end, there was nothing left to leverage and they go into bankruptcy and it was completely his fault.

Of course, he blames his problems on the fact that he didn't have a new arena. What he doesn't tell anyone is that the reason the Pens don't have a new arena already his mostly his fault. When the city built 2 new parks for the Pirates and Steelers, Baldwin made an agreement with the city to forgo plans for a new Pens arena in return for "improvements" to the Civic Arena. Once again, he needed money right then and sold the Pens down the river.

So yeah, he's hated here. And for very good reason. But quite frankly, his history suggests that the NHL would be nuts to ever let him own another NHL franchise."

12/23/05, 10:33 PM


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