Thursday, March 06, 2008

A $120 Million OCS for UM? Are you nuts?

I posted this comment after this story at the CA:

I live in the U of M neighborhood, and this is not going to work, period. The SHC is the single largest sporting event in the City in terms of $$$, more than the Liberty Bowl, the RMKC or the Stanford-St. Jude. If we upset them, they may leave town, and that would HURT us financially.

People, the University of Memphis is an URBAN COMMUTER SCHOOL. It's NOT Harvard, Princeton, or Arkansas State, for that matter. It's not a huge school in a small town where the University means everything, it's a place where the vast majority of students are only on campus for classes and then go to their homes scattered across the counties.

I hate to say all this while Harold Byrd is fighting serious illness, as he is a good man who gives his heart to the community, but an OCS makes no sense whatsoever for the U of M when they have so many other needs, and when you consider that our legislative delegation has to force the rest of the lege to give UM money at gunpoint, this just does not work.

We are who we are.


Julie said...

I suppose, then, using your logic here, that The University of Louisville would have been better off just sticking with the status quo, instead of having the VISION and foresight to try to improve their status among American universities?

(not that I'm pro-Louisville by any stretch, mind you.)

The fact is, The U of M COULD rise above its commuter school status, and get out from under the city's chokehold by doing this. Academic programs would benefit from alumni returning to campus & actually seeing what's going on at their alma mater.

DREAMERS - THINKERS - DOERS is the catchphrase of The U of M, and it's time they start living up to it.

If Dr. Raines chooses to ignore her comment that "athletics is the front porch of the university," her legacy to be putting the final nails in the coffin of the football program. That may not be a big deal to some, but that's where the money is made in college athletics, NOT with basketball.

It's time to move forward at the U of M, not just tread water & be happy with the status quo.

LeftWingCracker said...

You're not fooling me, you're just trying to get the stadium out of YOUR neighborhood! :-)

In all seriousness, I am for moving the University ahead; I'm just not sure that this works. There are buildings on campus that are leaking that need repair, there are lots of capital projects that come first.

The question that all this raises, of course, is will an OCS lead to more donations (post-completion of the OCS) by alumni? Will this, combined with the Stratum, Mall and Highland Row projects bring more than just a new look to the U?

Excuse my skepticism; it's just that I, for my 36 years here, have never seen a lot of love for the U outside Tiger athletics, and it took me years to support them the way I supported Arkansas and Arkansas State.

One thing I do know, though: the University has been quiet about selling this to the surrounding University District, of which I have been a resident for 20 years. This has to change if people in East Buntyn, Messick and Normal Station are going to get behind the project.

Jon Carroll said...

its kind of funny, the people who most want the stadium live no where near campus. the ones most opposed live near campus or work for the University and dread the traffic and financial drain it will have on their departments

Julie said...

I've never had any problems with living next to the Liberty Bowl (and have enjoyed walking to tailgates!) I promise you, we wouldn't have bought a house over here if we had any concerns!
Our property values are not suffering, and there have been no traffic problems, even during larger games. I totally understand neighbors being concerned of any change, but noise, traffic & property values are knee-jerk responses that people use without actually investigating.

It's not about getting a stadium away from the fairgrounds per se; it's about putting it where it belongs, which is on the campus of its main tenant, and out of the city's chokehold.

There is support for an on-campus stadium within the University District neighborhoods - I've talked to some of them...but they are quiet for fear of being lynched by their neighbors.

The University has indeed been quiet, because their stance has been to wait until after the feasibility study comes back with facts to make a statement, which obviously is just now happening.

Although this isn't the "nice" thing to say, technically the University can do what it wants, without the permission of the area neighborhoods. Dr. Raines has done a lot of good work with the UDI, and I applaud her efforts with that, but her job first & foremost is to look after the best interests of The U of M. If she doesn't do that in order to appease the people around it, then she is failing at her job, and people will hold her liable for that.

My personal opinion (and that of the Heery study, it sounds like) is that there's absolutely NO way that academic donations will not go up from alumni having a reason to come back to campus. Also, Highland area businesses would obviously benefit from a game day crowd. If you've ever been to a "normal" game day on a college campus, then you know what kind of money is spent in area restaurants, bars, and bookstores on and off-campus.

I think part of the problem is that Tiger fans, at least the majority of them, have been silent for way too long, accepting the fact that football takes a back seat to basketball, & never actually considering that football could be a money maker for the University, instead of an albatross around its neck.

Thank King Willie, I guess, for bringing this issue to the forefront at his breakfast last year, and kicking a lot of people into gear who have been murmuring about this for years, and motivating a fanbase that has been silent for years.

MemphisPI said...

Hey Cracker, count me as nuts because I think it's a great idea.

The U of M has allowed other interests to supersede theirs with the Pyramid, Fedex Forum and Liberty Bowl. Why shouldn't they have an on campus stadium if they pay for it rather than paying for part of something elsewhere that doesn't really benefit the university long term.

With the changing of the name the university began the process of dumping the "Tiger High" image. I wasn't in favor of the name change but it turned out to be a really good idea.

Sure you can argue other uses of the money. However the sports program benefits the entire university in revenue and public relations. A leaking roof in the
Chemistry building when fixed only helps the Chemistry Department.

Parking for a stadium might alleviate the traffic and madness of the street parking near campus.

Hey read Calkins column in Friday's
CA, he says it better than me.

Memphispi (A UM Alumni)

Julie said...

Well, apparently our so-called "leadership" at The U of M is perfectly happy with maintaining the image of just being a commuter school, and they are fine with being called "Tiger High."

I particularly like how the BANKER was the lone dissenter, while all the rest of them said the economy wasn't good enough to raise funds? I guess they know more about the economy than he does.

I also suppose the report from an unbiased company that came out less than a week ago, specifically saying the funds WERE available didn't mean anything.

The entire thing was a sham...not all of the committee members were there, and NONE of them had a copy of the feasibility report?

The sad thing is, calling for Dr. Raines' dismissal would only AT BEST put another Board of Visitors crony in place who would cozy up to King Willie.

Yay! We all get to play at King Willie's playground at the fairgrounds - Mike Rose is counting his kickback money as we speak, I'm sure.

The fix was in all along...I guess I shouldn't be surprised.