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Jim Host Responds
I just read Mark Nickolas’ comments (LEO, June 20) regarding the “Name that arena” news story. I totally understand his passion for what he believes. Let me make sure that the readers understand the facts.
1) Host Communications Inc. began its involvement as the exclusive multi-media rights holder at the University of Texas in the early 1980s. The director of athletics, DeLoss Dodds, asked me to look at naming rights for the Erwin Center in the early 2000s. Since Host Communications Inc. did not have expertise in naming rights, I got Team Services involved in a direct contractual relationship with the University of Texas Athletic Association. Host Communications Inc. was not involved in the naming-rights sales. Team Services did deliver a $35 million signed agreement that the University of Texas president turned down because he did not want to change the name of the Erwin Center. Chris Plonsky, senior associate director of athletics at UT, can attest to those facts.
2) At no time have I or Host Communications Inc. held any financial interest in Team Services.
3) Team Services was purchased by Learfield Communications several years ago. Learfield Communications was Host Communications Inc.’s strongest competitor in the multi-media college business.
4) In addition to Learfield and Team Services’ qualifications, the winning edge for the Louisville Arena is that they guaranteed $15 million over seven years for the right to sell the corporate marketing rights, as well as signage. Team Services, a division of Learfield, will be paid a maximum of $120,000 to sell the naming rights versus a percentage for success. There has never, to the best of my knowledge, been this kind of guarantee up front from any outside firm for the sale of advertising, corporate sponsor sales and naming rights in any arena or stadium in the country.
5) I completely recused myself from any comment during the committee meetings regarding all of the firms involved in the process. I also did not vote on this issue. The committee, on its own, made the decision based upon the presentations. If I had any favorite, it would have been T.J. Nelligan because he ran Host Communications Inc.’s New York office for almost 10 years.
Nickolas mentioned two finalists. However, there were three — Learfield/Team Services, Comcast/Spectacor and Nelligan Sports Marketing. Only Learfield/Team Services offered a guarantee.
6) Nickolas mentioned Team Services’ work with the state of Illinois; however, I know nothing about what happened there and, in fact, this is the first I read of it. Learfield and Team Services consistently get high marks from every college they have been affiliated with, including arenas and stadiums.
7) As far as risk is concerned, I am positive that Goldman Sachs, who has agreed to finance the Louisville arena, would not be in a position to do that if they did not feel the security of the numbers verifies the risk that they are undertaking for the bond holders. They, in turn, now have an insurer of the bonds on board who believes the same thing. We have met with rating agencies, and we have an excellent chance to receive an “A” rating due to the strength of the numbers. This alone will save $8 million on the project.
The facts are the facts, and they are the truth.
Jim Host, chairman, Louisville Arena Authority
I just finished the well-written, attention-holding article on the new Creation Museum by science teacher Ben Carl (LEO, June 13). It caused the following to bounce around the walls of my mind:
Deeply religious people believe science cannot penetrate the question of a Supreme Being, because it is beyond science’s competence.
Religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism have endured for thousands of years. The religious leaders, although of different mindsets, continue to tell their millions of followers they are passing along the truth. This is why they are robust and well today. Is it possible there is more than one religious truth? Or more than one Supreme Being? Or none?
Mr. Carl asks, “Shouldn’t the Christian community lead the effort to counter AIG and its fantasy museum?” He mentions “the Rev. Albert Mohler and his followers at the Southern Baptist seminary; the folks at the Presbyterian Church USA headquarters and their seminary; Southeast Christian Church and its Christian schools; the Catholic diocese and its hundreds of schools …”
Alas, over the years, a large number of “religious eggs” have been broken. The Creation Museum is one of the latest. Eggs cannot be unbroken.
Bob Moore, Louisville
Play It Forward
A special thanks to Sherry Deatrick for her article on children’s theater camps (LEO, May 23). It was recently my pleasure to see in action the profound work of the Blue Apple Players’ education team, when I attended a performance at the Frazier International History Museum. As a retired JCPS (Jefferson County Public Schools) educator with 34 years experience, I was familiar with the work of the Blue Apple Players on the stage, but was amazed at the positive effect their education program had on the hearts and minds of the children of Lincoln Elementary. The Blue Apple instructors — Jon Lee Cope and Heather Burns, along with the Lincoln educators, Ms. Boyd and Ms. Kaufman, and those on the Frazier staff — led the students in a creative endeavor of (indeed) monumental proportion.
In “Creating (Their) Own Museum” through drama, art and history, the children were given an opportunity to express not only the world around them, but the roots of that world throughout history. The joyous participation of these students — on the last night of the school year, so very close to the tantalizing prospect of summer break — was remarkable. They shared with parents, friends and strangers their vast talent, infinite wonder and remarkable heart with knowledge and enthusiasm.
I was so impressed by this work that I made a decision that very evening and accepted the call to grow (as Ms. Deatrick so eloquently put it) future audiences, artists and citizens. Though National City Bank helped in the sponsorship of the Museum project, summer camp is on a “pay to go” basis. This leaves many of the children who could benefit most from the experience left out due to financial reasons. I found that night that I could sponsor a child for the summer, and I did just that. As a matter of fact, I did it twice. It was easy, affordable and tax deductible. All I had to do was call the good people at the Blue Apple Players. I urge other LEO readers to do the same and make a difference in a child’s life. Thank you again for highlighting this wonderful organization.
Kathy Westmoreland, Louisville
Frequently in Roger Baylor’s Mug Shots column, we readers receive lessons about why we should drink delicious local craft beer, and why we should never waste our time or money on mass-produced and mass-marketed megabrewery beer.
I can relate to the sentiment. Seriously. Being a fan of independent restaurants and music and movies, I naturally see the good reasons for avoiding McBeer or Wal*Beer. But I am consistently frustrated by Baylor and the microbreweries in town for taking such a good idea and making it almost completely inaccessible to those of us who do not enjoy heavy, hoppy beer.
Some of us who do love beer just so happen to honestly prefer a light-tasting (if not low-cal), smooth lager that doesn’t taste like a glass full of hops. What are we to do? Does Baylor’s NABC (New Albanian Brewing Co.) offer us the quality craft beer that we want? There’s BBC, and sure, they rarely have Darby on tap, but it’s never bottled and sold in stores like their other brews. Cumberland Brews? Nope.
If we can’t go to one of the local brewing establishments and get a non-hoppy smooth lager, let alone go home with a couple six-packs to put in the fridge for at-home enjoyment on a Sunday afternoon, is it any wonder that we’ll end up just going to the liquor store on the corner to obtain a light lager that we can afford and whose taste and availability we can rely on? Please, Mr. Baylor & Co., scolding us into drinking beer we don’t like doesn’t help us. We sincerely want to frequent your establishments and stock your local brews in our refrigerators. Please consider crafting a lager that isn’t all humulus, and we’ll gladly consider swearing off the McBeer.
Derek Knisely, Louisville
Editor’s Note: LEO ran this letter by Roger Baylor to see if he had any comments or recommendations. Here’s what he had to say:
I sincerely regret that Mr. Knisely isn’t into Humulus lupulus, but fortunately there are less hoppy styles of beer to suit every prospective beer advocate like him. As these pertain to Louisville’s craft brewers, it should first be remembered that apart from the downtown BBC brewing and bottling facility (Main & Clay), they deal primarily in draft beer, not bottles. Finding a locally brewed “light-tasting … smooth lager” that is both golden and bottled and coming to you at a price point similar to regional and multinational brewers won’t always be easy, because economies of scale differ when it comes to production and distribution.
Furthermore, small craft brewers generally don’t aim to fill stylistic niches like light lager because industrial brewers do them benignly and cheaply. That said, BBC (Shelbyville Road) brews Kolsch; BBC (Main & Clay) has Gold; Browning’s has a Helles; Cumberland Brews makes Cream Ale; and NABC does the dark but very light flavored Community Dark. All of them fit Mr. Knisely’s description, albeit it on tap. Growlers, anyone? —Roger Baylor
Treasuring an Office
Jim Waters’ column about eliminating the state treasurer’s office (LEO, June 6) raised an interesting idea, but it appeared that he was struggling with the microeconomics. This change would surely eliminate some duplication and waste — not nearly as much as Waters suggested. The Commonwealth of Kentucky would still need someone to process its disbursements. Obviously, the difference would be only incremental.
The real issue is whether or not the state treasurer’s office is wasting money on political patronage. I don’t think Waters made much of a case. He seems to be just assuming that government is always wasteful. Does he know anything about budgets, performance measurements, inspectors general, public audits or freedom of information laws? My hunch is he’s never worked for a large corporation, which is not subject to intense public scrutiny like government. Think there might be waste over there?
Tom Louderback, Louisville
Applause for Mayor Abramson and his sponsorship of the Hike and Bike events. Encouraging fitness and fuel-free transportation are certainly measures we need to take as we face increasing gas prices and looming climate change. Speaking as a regular bike commuter, it’s a great relief to be able to take over the streets temporarily and have all the traffic stopped to let the riders through. My wife and I loaded our bikes on a TARC rack to go down to and return from the waterfront for the Memorial Day ride. But holiday buses are sparse, and the two-bike limit per bus can easily leave you at the curb with an hour or more until the next bus. Most participants will have no reasonable choice but to drive their bikes downtown. Where is the integrated support from the mayor, Metro and TARC for a public transit solution to make this a truly “green” event?
Much worse was Earth Day at the Zoo. Idling gas-guzzlers were backed up all the way to the Watterson Expressway with people trying to get to the Zoo to celebrate an event promoting environmental lifestyles and activism. There was no public transit available beyond the token morning and afternoon extensions of one of the standard routes that are available on any day. Attempts to provide special public transit for Thunder Over Louisville were reportedly less than successful because there was insufficient foot traffic control and the buses became snarled. A notable positive example was the special TARC service for Oaks and Derby. Because it had not only good route planning but traffic control support, it was a great success, and what’s more (attention conservatives!), it paid for itself with fares.
Significant progress in meeting the commitments the mayor made when he signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement will require planning and support of public transit, not half-measures and show-piece events while pushing for more bridges and wider expressways to accommodate more car traffic. The May issue of Louisville Magazine asked, “How green are we ?” Although the issue noted a number of positive steps and celebrated several local “green giants,” in my opinion, the 10-item Environmental Report Card rated a trip to the woodshed, and not for carbon-neutral alternative fuel.
George G. Perkins, Louisville
Casinos or Horse Racing?
Local media missed a perfect opportunity questioning gubernatorial candidates about their objections to casino gambling in Kentucky. Local media, print and broadcast, did not bother to ask any of the candidates what their motivating factors are in maintaining the horse industry at any cost. A few years ago, The Courier-Journal printed an anti-casino editorial by former Gov. Brereton Jones, all the while not disclosing that the former governor was in the horse-trading business himself. His opposition was obvious. Prior to Caesars going to Indiana, The C-J ran some questionable articles about the impact of casinos so close to Kentucky. One of the articles was about the destruction of mussel beds. Mussel beds? Who were they trying to fool? It was a smokescreen to try and keep casinos away from Kentucky’s borders. It didn’t work. Broadcast media were just as bad giving negative nightly reports of what would happen if a casino came to “Kentuckiana.” (LEO seems to be neutral on the subject). I could be wrong, but I suspect some of the candidates who were running for governor are horse traders themselves, or may have friends/family members who are horse traders. Another scenario could be that some in local media have an interest in horse-trading. Perhaps a station manager/newspaper editor owns a horse. If so, their opinion could be biased.
All of this got me pondering questions about what actually Kentuckians would prefer. So I began asking people: “Casinos or horse racing?” By a margin of 5 to 1, they said casinos. They were of all ages, races, economic backgrounds, education, etc. Some even like both. But most have never been to a horse race. One even thought it may be discriminatory to have only one type of gambling in Kentucky. One even mentioned putting it to a vote to let the citizens decide. Good idea! Take the issue from the politicians and the media.
Keith E. Lewis, Louisville