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“John Shearer: UTC's Patten Chapel Is 100 Years Old This Year - The Chattanoogan” plus 3 more

“John Shearer: UTC's Patten Chapel Is 100 Years Old This Year - The Chattanoogan” plus 3 more

John Shearer: UTC's Patten Chapel Is 100 Years Old This Year - The Chattanoogan

Posted: 13 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

UT-Chattanooga Chancellor Dr. Steve Angle could be seen Friday morning walking across the school's historic quadrangle alongside McCallie Avenue toward Patten Chapel.

He wanted to check and make sure any water that periodically seeps through the brick and mortar walls from the outside was not inside the landmark structure.

It was dry, at least before any heavy rains came across the Chattanooga area later in the day.

Over the years, showers of affection have also been thrust on the structure from admiring students, staff, alumni and others, many of whom, including apparently Dr. Angle, want to help look after the beloved building.

"I think it's a connection to our past," the chancellor said of the chapel after gladly offering a perspective when he realized he had stumbled upon a reporter being shown through the building by Laura Cagle, UTC director of university events. "It's still an active part of life on campus."

Ms. Cagle had earlier said similarly positive comments. "All of our buildings don't look this grand, so it's kind of nice," she said. "Patten Chapel has definitely stood the test of time. I know very few buildings on campus this historic."

The Patten Chapel has indeed been the scene of landmark events over the years, from countless weddings, to graduations and required chapel programs in its early decades, to other special happenings.

While people have often been the focus of those events, Patten Chapel itself is in the spotlight this year.  On May 30, it turned exactly 100 years old, as that was the date in 1919 it was officially dedicated.

Although not much has been done so far other than a planned article and other notices in school publications, Ms. Cagle thinks the school will also recognize the anniversary during the annual Founders Week activities in mid-September.

The old building has also gained plenty of attention over the years simply due to its towering Gothic architecture. And its location alongside McCallie Avenue has allowed the rest of Chattanooga along with the campus community to enjoy it visually.

It would likely be considered an eye-catcher just with the nave and its large stained-glass windows, but the castle-like tower adds an even more regal effect.

While the building has been the scene of mostly happy events, other than periodic memorial services, it had at least part of its origin in sadness.

It had been named in memory of John A. Patten, who died unexpectedly at a relatively young age. He was the head of Chattanooga Medicine Co. like his uncle, company founder Z.C. Patten, for whom the Patten Parkway and the Hotel Patten/Patten Towers are named.


Mr. Patten had gone to Chicago in 1916 to fight a legal attack on the Chattanooga Medicine Co., and while there he died suddenly from complications related to a ruptured ulcer. He was only 48 years old, and much of the Chattanooga community was in mourning upon hearing the news.

The Patten Chapel had been designed by noted Atlanta architect W.T. Downing. He also designed Race, Hooper and Founders halls at UTC as well as the older buildings at Baylor School, the Lyndhurst mansion, and the Patten home at the top of Minnekahda Road in Riverview.

Mr. Downing loved arches that came to a point, and they can be found on all of these mentioned buildings, including Patten Chapel.

The Patten family also came to a figurative point of agreement in helping support causes they embraced, and one of them was what was then known as the University of Chattanooga and its campus. This was due in part to the fact that the Pattens at the time were Methodists, and the University of Chattanooga in the 1910s was a Methodist-affiliated school.

Mrs. John A. (Edith) Patten's father, the Rev. John J. Manker, had also been a Methodist pastor.

With the new quadrangle of buildings being constructed on plans drawn by Mr. Downing, who himself died suddenly in 1918 also at middle age after being struck by an automobile on a trip to Philadelphia, the Patten family gave money for the chapel as a memorial gift.

Mr. Patten had been on the board of trustees of UC and was treasurer of the university corporation before his death, and his wife was continuing the support.

Patten Chapel was the last building of the four constructed in the quadrangle, and was dedicated one day after World War I hero Alvin C. York of Fentress County, Tenn., had been given a grand welcome and tour of Chattanooga.

The chapel was also given a salute, based on the news reports. "The memorial chapel, which has just been completed, is considered to be one of the finest specimens of collegiate Gothic architecture erected anywhere in the country," said the Chattanooga Times. It "occupies the crowning point of the campus on the hill overlooking McCallie Avenue."

The newspaper said the nave, which is also commonly called the sanctuary, featured stone and brick in the chancel area, with interior woodwork of highly ornamented carved oak. The brick walls were trimmed with Bedford stone, and the floors in the aisles and front were made of pottery tile.

The chapel, which cost $100,000 at the time, also featured a large pipe organ built by Henry Pilcher & Son Company of Louisville, Ky. It lasted for years, but was damaged by a water leak, as was a subsequent Rodgers electric organ donated by Summit Pianos. Recently, two donors worked with then-provost Jeff Elwell to acquire the current electric organ from a church in Atlanta. All the work moving the organ consoles in and out resulted in workers having to cut through some of the arching woodwork.

The organ console has a small plate saying "Allen Digital Computer Organ" on it and opens like a secretary's desk of old.

During the dedication ceremonies that Friday night in 1919, a crowd that included multiple Methodist bishops and school President Fred Hixson packed the new edifice.

Dr. Hixson told the audience that he had been on a walk through the woods of the Minnekahda estate with the late Mr. Patten in 1916, when Mr. Patten told him that UC needed larger resources. Further, he told Dr. Hixson that he intended to help with the school's annual debt.

Mr. Patten had also previously led a school campaign, apparently to help construct the new quad buildings to replace the Old Main structure that dated to the school's beginning in 1886.

Also speaking that day was former UC president Dr. John Race, a Princeton graduate and Methodist minister, and Detroit area Methodist bishop Theodore Henderson, formerly of the Chattanooga area.

Only about two weeks after the building was dedicated, the first wedding was held in Patten Chapel. In an unusual twist, the first bride was one of Mr. Patten's daughters, Phyllis, who married James Abshire. Mrs. Abshire recalled in a 1987 interview that they were not sure if Patten Chapel would be ready, so they also planned to have it at First Methodist Church at the corner of McCallie and Georgia avenues.

However, when they realized the chapel was going to be ready, they ran an announcement in the paper of the change of venue, and the chapel was filled.

Mrs. Abshire, the mother of former NATO ambassador and Ronald Reagan administration adviser David Abshire, lived in her later years in a condominium in the revamped former Minnekahda home.

Other children of John A. and Edith Patten were Charlotte Guerry, Manker Patten, John A. Patten Jr., Tarbell Patten, and Lupton Patten.

Over the years, Patten Chapel became a popular place for other weddings and school functions, including mandatory chapel services until a few years before UC became the public UTC in 1969. Graduation/commencement exercises had also been held there until after World War II.

While mostly young people made use of it over the decades, the chapel itself did not stay in young-like condition. Patten Chapel slowly began to show signs of wear and tear, as it became a photography backdrop as much as the centerpiece of campus it once was.

Some restoration work was done in the 1980s, and it was rededicated in 1988, with UTC Chancellor Dr. Frederick Obear presiding. Bishop Clay Lee of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church delivered an address discussing the building's Methodist roots.

A plaque outlining the Methodist connections to UC/UTC had been erected inside the chapel in 1972. Other plaques placed inside the chapel are to John A. Patten, to staff/faculty members Dot Bradley, Terrell Louise Tatum and Ruth Clark Perry, and to Joan Reagin McNeill by her husband, Tom, who contributed to the installation of a carillon bell system in 1989.

And recently, under the work and research coordination of English literature professor Dr. Aaron Shaheen, a centennial anniversary plaque was installed in memory of five former University of Chattanooga students who died in World War I. They were Frank H. Atlee, Forrest L. Bradley, William D. Faris, Charles W. Loaring-Clark and J. Parke Robb.

Other work done in recent years has included re-pointing the mortar around the bricks in the tower, and putting a new roof on the chapel.

Dr. Angle said the university has spent plenty of money maintaining the building in recent years, but they think it is worth it.

"It's an important part of our campus that we cherish," he said.

This inanimate goodwill hostess with plenty of charm also still gets used quite a bit, particularly for weddings. "We do a ton of weddings," said Ms. Cagle, whose department oversees the chapel. "We do a wedding just about every weekend."

It is also used for such other formal ceremonies as sorority inductions and school honor society installations.

It gets used some informally as well. Ms. Cagle said sometimes staff or faculty members like to come in and sit and read or contemplate during a break in the day. "Sometimes on a college campus there are not a lot of quiet spots," she said with a laugh.

If you are in there on the hour or half hour, though, you might get your quiet disrupted, although in a pleasant sort of way, by the chimes from the carillon system in the tower.

The chapel has made a strong reverberation plenty of other times as well simply through its historic, but timelessly appealing, architecture.

"I'm glad to know it's still here," said Ms. Cagle. "A lot of campuses weren't lucky to get to keep something like this for so long.

"This is a gem on our campus."

* * * * *

To hear UTC Chancellor Dr. Steve Angle discuss the significance of Patten Chapel, click here.

Big butter sculpture, sweet guitar, owl released: News from around our 50 states - USA TODAY

Posted: 24 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT



Auburn: Gov. Kay Ivey has announced that an Italian auto supplier plans to expand its operation in the city. Ivey's office said Tuesday that the $15 million expansion project at 2A USA in Auburn will create more than 50 jobs. The facility is a Tier 1 supplier to major producers of automobiles and heavy trucks. Ivey's office said 2A's parent company is Italy's largest privately owned high-pressure die-casting industrial company. It specializes in the casting of large, complex aluminum components. Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said in a statement that Alabama's auto supply chain continues to "grow in scope and sophistication as companies such as 2A expand their operations in the state."


Anchorage: New storage facility construction projects at the city's airport could create more than 1,000 jobs. KTVA-TV reported Monday that Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is planning to build a cold cargo storage building on its east side and anther cargo building on the property's west side. The airport's manager says construction on both buildings could start next year, with expected opening dates in 2021. Officials say the combined cost of the buildings could reach $370 million. Officials say the jobs projection includes design, engineering and construction work and does not factor potential permanent workers at the facilities. The cold cargo building is projected to be 700,000 square-feet and the west side storage is planned to be 1.5 million square feet.


Flagstaff: A key congressional committee has endorsed a bill to make permanent a ban on the filing of new mining claims around the Grand Canyon. The House Natural Resources Committee approved the measure July 17, sponsored by its chairman, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona. There is no companion bill in the Senate. The Obama administration put about 1,562 square miles outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park off-limits to new hard rock mining claims until 2032. The bill would make it permanent. Republicans have opposed the measure, saying mining would bring jobs and much-needed revenue to the region. No uranium mines are open in Arizona. One company has one on standby south of the Grand Canyon but is waiting for prices to rise.


Little Rock: City leaders have approved a measure that would create an entertainment district in the city's River Market area, which would allow open containers of alcohol outdoors in a four-block zone on the weekends. With Tuesday's decision, Little Rock becomes the third city in Arkansas to allow entertainment districts, along with Mountain Home and El Dorado. In Little Rock, the entertainment district covers a four-block area downtown and is in effect for limited hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and on certain holidays. The Legislature passed a measure this year allowing the entertainment districts in the state.


Big Bear Lake: A young bald eagle that the public watched hatch online in a Southern California mountain nest has finally made its first flight. San Bernardino National Forest spokesman Zach Behrens says the juvenile male let out a call at 6:19 a.m. Tuesday and flew off the screen. Bald eagles typically make an inaugural flight between 10 and 12 weeks of age, but this one waited until he was 14 weeks old. Forest Service biologist robin Eliason says the bird will stay close to his parents over a few months to learn hunting skills and then will likely leave the area. The eagle's mother laid two eggs in the nest near Big Bear Lake in March and two eaglets hatched in April. The nest cam showed one eaglet died during a late winter storm on Memorial Day weekend.


Lyons: A surveillance camera filmed a bear attempting to take and open a dumpster at a local marijuana dispensary. The Daily Camera reports that Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region posted the video on its Twitter account Tuesday. Agency spokesman Jason Clay says the bear was captured on video at The Bud Depot in Lyons just before midnight July 17. The video shows the bear pulling the large metal trash bin out of an enclosed area and unsuccessfully attempting to open its top lid in the town 44 miles northwest of Denver. "It tries to take the bear-resistant dumpster home with him, but cannot," the Parks and Wildlife social media post says. "No reward for this bear."


Waterbury: A roughly 300-pound bronze church bell and a pile of scrap metal have been reported stolen from the site of a Russian Orthodox Church scheduled for demolition this week. Project manager Albert Well tells the Republican-American that scrap metal and the lightest of three bronze bells that once hung in Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church were stolen in late June. Well says the bell was stolen from a padlocked shipping container. The bells, stained glass windows and other items were removed for the demolition and could be used in other churches. Well estimates the bell is worth thousands as an artifact. Police estimate the bronze and the stolen scrap metal is worth $500. Officials are investigating.


Dover: Officials say high levels of a worrisome class of manmade chemicals have been detected in four private wells near Dover Air Force Base. Officials said in a news release July 14 that they had been notified about the elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances, or PFAS, by the U.S. Air Force and Dover Air Force Base. Wells at the base have PFAS levels above a federal health advisory limit, and testing of nearby private wells has been ongoing. According to the news release, the four wells provide water to a shopping center with five businesses, two residences and an office building. The owners have been notified, and the base has provided bottled water. The widely used compounds are linked to a variety of health issues and have come under intense federal and state scrutiny in recent years.

District of Columbia

Washington: Family, friends and the Southeast D.C. community held a vigil Tuesday for 11-year-old Karon Brown, who was shot and killed on July 18, WUSA-TV reports. Brown was supposed to be at football practice the night he was shot and killed. Dozens of people came out to Stanton Elementary to remember his life. " Brown's football coach, Julian Lewis, briefly addressed the crowd. "Karon did touch my heart in a special way," Lewis said. "He was always smiling...I don't care what he was doing, there was a smile." Tony McClam, 29, is accused of killing Brown. He was arrestested and charged with first-degree murder while armed, according to The Washington Post. McClam's next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2.


Melbourne: Two juvenile green turtles named Don King and Kazoo are back in their natural habitat after rehabilitating at an area zoo. Brevard Zoo spokesman Elliott Zirulnik said in a news release that the turtles were released into the Indian River Lagoon on Tuesday. Zirulnik says Don King arrived at the zoo's Sea Turtle Healing Center on March 29 with a fractured front flipper and a healed fracture to the skull. He was also covered in barnacles. Kazoo was brought in on May 27 after he was found floating and lethargic at Cocoa Riverfront Park. He says they were both treated with nutritional support and medication.


Savannah: A federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge to a tax Georgia's oldest city imposes on guided tours. U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled Monday he lacks jurisdiction over whether Savannah unfairly burdens tour guides with the $1-per-adult customer tax. He said the issue belongs in state courts. The tax challenge was part of a 2014 lawsuit that also claimed Savannah violated tour guides' free-speech rights by requiring them to pass a written history test to obtain a license. Moore ruled in the tour guides' favor on that issue in May, though Savannah had scrapped the licensing ordinance in 2015. The tour tax helps pay for maintenance on Savannah's historic monuments. Tour guides say it's unfair because other businesses that profit from tourism don't pay it.


Lihue: A frayed 17-year-old cable was to blame for a widespread power outage. The Garden Island reported Tuesday that Kauai Island Utility Cooperative discovered the cause Monday and plans to repair the cable by Friday. Officials say the cable was connected to the company's largest collection of generators and resulted in an almost three-hour outage across Kauai. The company says several other units were down at its Port Allen Generation Station for scheduled maintenance, but that repairs have been delayed until custom-made replacement parts can be shipped from the U.S. mainland. The company says a newly functioning diesel generator should supplement some power until repairs are complete, but that consumers should still conserve energy. Officials say uncooperative weather could slow the repair process.


Boise: The City Council has approved three ordinances designed to address safety and other issues arising from the growing use of e-scooters In the state's largest city. The Idaho Statesman reports that the scooters arrived in Boise in October, and the city now has 750 scooters split among three companies: Bird, Lime and Spin. In nine months, users have traveled nearly half a million miles, and each scooter averages almost four rides per day. One change approved by the Council affects speed limits. Boise limits speed to 15 mph, but the new ordinances will make riders slow to below 5 mph in congested areas, public plazas or other geofenced areas. A second change affects reckless riders. Each scooter will get an ID number to help people identify reckless users and report them to the companies. A third change penalizes vandalism. If a rider knowingly defaces public or private property open to the public with tire marks, that person would be guilty of a misdemeanor


Chicago: The University of Illinois at Chicago has opened a $43 million engineering facility. The university held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at the 57,500-square-foot Engineering Innovation Building. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined university President Tim Killeen and other officials, as well as students and faculty, for the event. The university says enrollment in engineering programs has skyrocketed. The College of Engineering now has an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. That's almost double what it was a decade ago.UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis says the facility will help attract top academic talent and strengthen ties with local business and industry. Among the building's features is a high-bay structural research lab, where researchers and government agencies can test large-scale structural components such as roads and bridges.


West Lafayette: Purdue University will start issuing new student identification cards with a change aimed at ensuring that the cards comply with state law. The university announced Tuesday that new ID cards will be available in August with an expiration date six years from the day a card is issued. That information wasn't on Purdue's previous student IDs, but The Journal & Courier reports that it's required under Indiana's voter ID law that took effect in 2008. Tippecanoe County's election board had determined that using Purdue records to check whether students are enrolled met the state's voter ID requirements. But in May, county Clerk Julie Roush questioned whether the county's arrangement with Purdue truly complied with the law. Roush said Tuesday she's grateful Purdue was working with the county on a solution.


Iowa City: Another round of state spending cuts means Iowa Public Radio will have to ramp up its fundraising efforts this year and rely even more on the generosity of its listeners and sponsors. IPR will receive nearly $71,000 less from Iowa public universities this year – a roughly 8% cut from last year – under a recommended budget proposed to Iowa Board of Regents this week. The cut is yet another in a series of incremental reductions in government funding for public radio in the state, though IPR leadership says the organization is still on a growth path. Government funding – from the Iowa Board of Regents, state appropriations and the federal government – makes up around 21% of IPR's operating income, which is expected to reach $8.3 million this year.


Olathe: A Kansas City suburb is allowing people to pay their parking fines with school supplies. KMBC-TV reports that the city of Olathe is offering the option through Aug. 16. Items that are being sought include No. 2 pencils, 1- and 3-inch three-ring binders and single-subject spiral notebooks. People who want to take advantage of the offer can bring in the supplies and a receipt. City officials say the offer isn't valid for commercial parking violations and only up to $50 in school supplies can be donated per person.


Louisville: Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company announced Wednesday morning that it will be selling the second batch of its Peerless Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey starting on Aug. 3. The company's distillery in downtown Louisville will open at 9 a.m. that day, according to a press release. After announcing it would be releasing its first bourbon since 1917 to the public on June 22, Kentucky Peerless said it sold out of all of its bottles in less than a day. If you want to get some of the company's bourbon this time around, you'll have to act quick: Kentucky Peerless will have just under 500 bottles available for purchase, according to company spokesperson Tara Bowling. Started in 1889 by Henry Kraver, the great-granfather of CEO Corky Taylor, the Peerless brand was once the state's second-largest bourbon distillery. The company produced about 200 barrels of rye whiskey and bourbon per day until 1917, when Kraver closed the facility at the onset of World War I. The Taylor family resurrected the brand in 2015 with the opening of a new distillery in downtown Louisville. Bottles will sell for $79 a pop, Bowling said.


Baton Rouge: A chicken producer is planning a $47 million expansion of its Louisiana operations, creating a new feed mill and upgrades to its hatchery and processing plant. House of Raeford Farms CEO Bob Johnson announced the plans Tuesday in a news release from Gov. John Bel Edwards' office. The northwest Louisiana expansions are expected to create 118 jobs. The North Carolina-based company says it will spend $41 million to build a feed mill in Lincoln Parish, replacing and doubling the capacity of an older mill, and $6 million on improvements to Bienville Parish facilities. The company distributes chicken products to grocery stores, schools and other businesses, packaged under its own label and other private labels. Louisiana is giving the company $1.5 million for the projects, along with tax breaks.


Bangor: State environmental managers say more than 1,000 Atlantic salmon have returned to the Penobscot River this year for the first time since 2011. Department of Marine Resources scientist Jason Valliere says the total of returning salmon was 1,059 in the middle of July. The returns of salmon to the Penobscot generates a lot of attention from conservationists because the fish are considered endangered by the federal government. The Bangor Daily News reports less than 700 salmon were counted at the Milford Dam fish lift last year. This year's total of returns is tentative and subject to change according to the state. Returns to the river have fluctuated over the years. It's the most important U.S. river for Atlantic salmon, which return to a handful of rivers to spawn.


Pocomoke City: The Police Department is warning businesses to be vigilant about counterfeit money that has been circulating in the area. Police received several complaints of counterfeit $100 bills Monday, including one at a bank, according to a Facebook post from the Police Department. The bills passed tests using a counterfeit detector pen and counting machines, according to the post. Capt. Rich Kaiser with the Salisbury Police Department said there has been one report of a fake $100 used at Aldi on Dagsboro Road in Salisbury over the weekend. Business owners are asked to call police immediately if anyone tries to pass them a bill matching the description. Try to obtain as much information on the individual or individuals attempting to pass the bill as possible. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Pocomoke City Police Department at 410-957-1600.


Yarmouth: High winds and one radar-confirmed tornado ripped off a hotel roof, downed trees that blocked roads and knocked out power to thousands on Cape Cod on Tuesday during the peak of tourist season. A tornado struck Yarmouth just after noon, according to the National Weather Service, which along with the state Emergency Management Agency sent a survey team to the scene to assess the damage and the tornado's strength. A wind gust of 90 mph was reported in Barnstable, according to the weather service. There were no reports of injuries. The Cape Sands Inn in Yarmouth was condemned by building inspectors after its roof was ripped off and deposited in the back of the building. Guests were being relocated to other hotels. Electric utility Eversource reported about 50,000 power outages across the state, most on Cape Cod, with Chatham, Dennis and Harwich the hardest hit. More than 90% of customers in Harwich and Chatham lost power at one point.


Lansing: State Attorney General Dana Nessel is opposing a federal plan to drop gray wolves from the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the wolf has recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection. More than 5,000 live in the contiguous U.S., including roughly 660 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The service wants to turn management of the species over to the states. In comments submitted recently, Nessel says the Fish and Wildlife Service has tried repeatedly to remove wolves from the protected list without providing adequate justification. She says eliminating the federal shield would lead to renewed hunting and could imperil the species. Wolves in the Lower 48 were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction before legal protection was granted in the 1970s.


Minneapolis: An Uber driver ferried two sisters 200 miles to their aunt's 100th birthday party. Kerry Maggard and Deb Eggers were flying from San Antonio to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with a connecting flight in Minneapolis. But bad weather forced their flight from San Antonio to land in Madison, Wisconsin, and they missed their connecting flight in Minneapolis. No other flights were available. So the sisters turned to Uber and noticed the driver name that popped up on the ride-sharing app – Jesus Florentino. Maggard told KARE-TV when that popped up, "I thought God has a sense of humor." Florentino didn't realize the length of the trip when he pulled up, but agreed to drive. Uber charged Maggard $216 for the trip. She tipped Florentino another $54.


Jackson: Casino revenues sprinted ahead in Mississippi in June, powered by a strong performance at Gulf Coast gambling halls. Figures show gamblers lost $182 million in June, 7% more than in the same month in 2018. That includes $1.6 million in sports betting revenue at casinos. The 12 coastal casinos saw June revenue rise 12% to $109 million, continuing a strong run that began in spring 2018. The 14 river casinos saw revenue rise less than 1% from June 2018 to $72 million. It's the 10th increase in 11 months for a region hard-hit by competition. The increase comes despite Tunica County casinos that closed in January and May. Statewide revenue is up 4% over the last 12 months. The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don't report to the state.


Columbia: A great horned owl named Athena has been released into the wild after spending three months growing to full maturity in a state animal rehabilitation program. The Columbia Missourian reports that a group of about 10 people gathered Tuesday at the Three Creeks Conservation Area near Columbia as a wooden crate containing Athena was unloaded from a car. When Athena finally came out of her crate, she flew to a nearby tree, where she perched for a few seconds before taking off. Athena was too young to care for herself when she was found alone in April. That's when the Raptor Rehabilitation Project got involved. Volunteer and University of Missouri veterinary student Rebecca Belter says Athena had "no great love for humans," which made her a great candidate for release.


Kalispell: Three northwestern Montana communities along the Kootenai River are seeking stronger protections from the hazardous contaminants that flow downstream from mines in Canada. The Flathead Beacon reports that leaders in Libby, Troy and Eureka wrote to Gov. Steve Bullock that their economies depend on the water quality of rivers and lakes that are being compromised by pollution from British Columbia coal mines. The leaders want state and federal officials to fund better long-term water quality monitoring and to adopt a strict water quality standard for selenium. The mineral is toxic at elevated levels, and concentrations in northwestern Montana already exceed the threshold identified in the national regulatory standards


Norfolk: Brian King knows a little bit about sweet instrumetns after making his own colorful custom guitar build a few months ago. The process involved taking apart a new Fender guitar, creating a mold from it, then adding three bags of plain M&M's and epoxy to the mold. After the epoxy mix hardened, he cut out holes and added an epoxy topcoat for extra shine and protection. Finally, he drilled holes for the guitar neck and reassembled the guitar. The guitar build took about 80 hours in total, he said, especially taking curing time into consideration. He completed it over the course of about three weeks, the Norfolk Daily News reported. Assembly took place in his garage workshop, which includes all the equipment he needs, as well as some car projects he has done. Also helping with the effort? His three children, who assisted by counting M&M's and mixing epoxy. The sweet creation is fully functional, but you might not want to play it standing up – the guitar is at least eight times heavier than the original, King said. It was inspired by a similar build with Jawbreakers candies that he saw on the internet.


Reno: Boaters in Northern Nevada are drowning at an alarming rate this year. With the apparent drowning of a kayaker in Washoe Lake on July 17, six Nevadans have drowned in boating accidents this year – a figure that approximately matches the Silver State's average of six to seven boating-related drowning accidents per year. Out of those six deaths, five have been in Northern Nevada, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Aaron Meier, the boating education coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, says there is a common thread between nearly all of this year's deaths – people who drowned were not wearing life jackets. Nevada law mandates that boaters at least carry a life jacket with them on the vessel, including kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards.

New Hampshire

Hebron: A summer camp founded in 1903 has been put on the National Register of Historic Places. Camp Mowglis, in Hebron, is described as the first U.S. summer camp dedicated to boys under 14. It was founded by Elizabeth Ford Holt, who also founded nearby Camp Redcroft for girls. Each camp provides activities drawn from the outdoors and nature. Camp Mowglis takes its name from the lead character from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book," published in 1894. Kipling, who gave permission for the camp name, maintained a lifelong interest in the camp. The camp's lodge, outdoor chapel, craft shop, ice house, woodshed, pump house, chapel, rifle range, assembly hall, tennis courts and athletic fields contribute to its historic significance. Most were built before World War II.

New Jersey

Edison: Trains on New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor line were delayed during the morning commute Wednesday because a car that became wedged under the passenger platform of a station was blocking one of the tracks. It's not clear how the car became wedged under the eastbound platform of the station in Edison. It did not appear that anyone had been injured. The car apparently went through a chain link fence that separates the parking lot from the platform. The car also knocked over a sign. The incident caused delays of up to 30 minutes before the vehicle was removed. Officials say normal operations were expected to soon resume.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: The U.S. Air Force is inviting the public to learn about the work being done to clean up jet fuel contamination at a base bordering the state's largest city. The open house at Kirtland Air Force Base is scheduled for Thursday. Experts from the Air Force and the state Environment Department will be on hand to answer questions. A coalition of environmental groups has threatened to sue, saying the contamination is a danger to public health and the environment. The Air Force has spent $125 million cleaning up soil and water around the site, but the group is seeking an agreement that would establish a schedule with clear deadlines and penalties. The fuel leak was detected in 1999. It was believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades.

New York

New York City: A couple captured a 3-foot alligator in their local park and taped its mouth before calling the police to pick the animal up. Authorities believe the gator was an illegally owned pet that escaped. The New York Post reports that Staten Island resident Don Walters spotted the alligator in a park near his home on Tuesday. Walters had lived in Florida so he was familiar with alligators. He told the Post he threw bait at the reptile, then held its head while his wife, Kim, taped its mouth shut. The couple called 911 and police arrived and took the alligator to an animal care facility. The alligator's capture comes days after a Long Island family spotted a baby alligator in their backyard pool.

North Carolina

Pittsboro: A rescue group says one of its lions has died after becoming overheated and suffering organ failure. Carolina Tiger Rescue wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post that the 17-year-old lion named Sheba wasn't able to recover despite staff efforts. News outlets report a heat wave recently hit the East Coast, bringing with it temperatures above 90 degrees. The nonprofit cat sanctuary says on its website that it works to protect big cats in the wild and in captivity, taking in animals that have been confiscated, abandoned or in need of a new home. An earlier Facebook post by the group says Sheba was used in a cub petting practice in which cubs are taken at birth to be handled by humans for monetary gain.

North Dakota

Bismarck: The state Health Department is warning residents to avoid blue-green algae in two Morton County lakes. The agency issued the blue-green algae advisories Tuesday for Harmon Lake and Sweetbriar Lake. Hot summer weather contributes to the production of the algae that's also known as cyanobacteria. People and animals who ingest affected water can get sick and even die. There's no known antidote for toxins blue-green algae can produce. People are urged to avoid water that looks discolored or scummy or has a foul odor.


Columbus: This year's Ohio State Fair butter display honors the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and Ohio's own Neil Armstrong. The sculptures – featuring the whole Apollo 11 crew and the usual cow and calf– are made from more than 2,200 pounds of butter. The butter display includes a life-size sculpture of Armstrong standing next to the lunar module Eagle and saluting the American flag after planting it on the moon's surface. The display also includes a butter sculpture of the entire spacecraft crew: Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and the traditional butter cow and calf, according to a statement from American Dairy Association Mideast. To make the display, five sculptures worked in a 46-degree cooler for about 400 of the 500 hours it took to complete the display.


Oklahoma City: A group seeking a statewide vote on whether to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income Oklahomans is organizing volunteers after receiving the date for when they can begin gathering signatures. The group Oklahomans Decide Healthcare said Wednesday they've been notified by state officials that the 90-day signature gathering window will begin on July 31. Supporters will need to gather nearly 178,000 signatures from registered voters in order to get the question on the ballot. A spokeswoman for the group, Amber England, says they have been overwhelmed with volunteers from across the state seeking to circulate petitions. England says the group also is prepared to hire professional signature gatherers to ensure they qualify the question for the ballot. Oklahoma is one of 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid.


Ashland: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a major tourist draw in southern Oregon, is exploring changes to its famous outdoor theater after losing millions because of smoky wildfire conditions in 2017 and 2018. The Daily Tidings reported Tuesday that the annual summer theater festival uses Ashland High School's indoor theater when smoke shuts down its outdoor 1,190-seat outdoor venue. But the festival is looking for a long-term solution to volatile air quality as wildfires have forced it to shut down productions two years in a row. The festival lost $5.4 million during 2017 and 2018 seasons because of wildfires.


Oklahoma: The historic Belvedere Hotel collapsed early Wednesday as flames consumed the structure that was built in 1905 on Route 66 across from a railroad stop in Westmoreland County. The 28-room hotel was declared unsafe in 2017. Officials are saying the fire is suspicious because no one was living in the building and utilities were turned off. The fire marshal is investigating. No one was injured.

Rhode Island

Providence: The state has received a $60 million federal highway grant to make improvements to Interstate 95. The state's congressional delegation says the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant will be used to replace and upgrade the northbound Providence Viaduct on the highway. The 1,300-foot-long viaduct, which was built in 1964, runs alongside the Providence Place Mall and carries about 220,000 vehicles per day. Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said in a statement that the grant will allow the state to make the viaduct safer and more convenient, and create construction jobs. Replacement of the southbound section was completed in 2017, but the northbound side remains structurally deficient.

South Carolina

Tega Cay: The city has removed a monument to police officers that included a Bible verse and a prayer after upsetting religious and secular residents. A resident complained about the religious references at a July 15 meeting. The city painted over the word "Lord" in several places on the monument and removed the Bible reference because they feared a possible lawsuit. Then The Herald of Rock Hill reports other residents complained about the alterations made to the monument donated by the Tega Cay Women's Club. The city released a statement Tuesday saying it put the monument in storage for now while it seeks a possible solution to the dispute. Tega Cay is a well-off suburb of 10,000 people on a lake near Charlotte, North Caronia.

South Dakota

Rapid City: When students return to public schools across the state this fall, there should be a new message displayed in a common area, a cafeteria, entryway or other prominent location. A state law that took effect this month requires all public schools in the state's 149 districts to paint, stencil or otherwise display the national motto "In God We Trust." The lawmakers who proposed the law said the requirement was meant to inspire patriotism in the state's public schools. Associated School Boards of South Dakota executive director Wade Pogany says his group pushed to include language in the bill that directs the state's attorney general to represent schools or districts that might be sued over the religious message at no cost.


Memphis: University of Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer will serve as the honorary Peabody duckmaster in downtown Memphis on Aug. 9. The Peabody ducks perform a march along a red carpet from the Peabody Hotel lobby to their rooftop penthouse each day in a tradition that began in the 1930s. Fulmer will serve as the honorary duckmaster Aug. 9 before he joins new Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman at the Big Orange Gala that takes place in Memphis that night. Festivities at the Peabody Hotel begin at 5 p.m., though guests are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early. The Big Orange Gala will start at 7 p.m. at Memphis Botanic Garden. The event raises scholarship funds for Shelby County students to attend the University of Tennessee.


El Paso: Plans are in the works to build gateway boulevards along Interstate 10 from downtown to near the Spaghetti Bowl in central El Paso and would require the acquisition of part of the downtown rail yard and might force some businesses to relocate. Gateways, or frontage roads, also are proposed to be built on both sides of I-10 from Executive Center Boulevard in west El Paso to downtown. Those likely won't require property acquisitions because initial plans call for putting them on elevated bridges overlapping portions of I-10, says Hugo Hernandez, project manager for Reimagine I-10, TxDOT's planning study of the highway through El Paso.


Salt Lake City: Residents gathered Wednesday to celebrate Utah's history and recognize Mormon pioneers who trekked West in search of religious freedom. Pioneer Day is a beloved only-in-Utah holiday every July 24 that features parades, rodeos, fireworks and more. Hundreds of people camped outside Tuesday to stake out spots along the parade route in downtown Salt Lake City. Pioneer Day is so big, locals often refer to it as "the holiday." It marks the date in 1847 when Brigham Young and other Mormon pioneers, many pulling handcarts, ended their treacherous journey across the country from Illinois and discovered the Salt Lake Valley. Many businesses and government offices close for the state holiday.


Montpelier: The state's top bear biologist says this summer's nuisance bear problem is likely to ease in the next few weeks as berries and other natural foods ripen in the state's forests. Meanwhile, Fish and Wildlife Biologist Forrest Hammond is continuing to urge people to keep food away from bears so they don't associate people with food. The message comes after Vermont game wardens had to kill two bears in recent weeks. One of the bears had entered an Underhill home. In the other case, a bear was bothering hikers along the Appalachian Trail in southern Vermont. Hammond says experts are monitoring a number of other problem bears. He says biologists remember the case last year in New Hampshire when a woman was injured by a bear that had entered her home.


Charlottesville: A Confederate statue that became a rallying point for white nationalists was found vandalized Wednesday with an expletive against President Donald Trump. The profanity was graffitied on the base of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in white paint, TV station WVIR reported. Blue paint was also splattered around the base, according to the station. The city's Parks and Recreation Department was notified to clean the statue, police spokesman Tyler Hawn said. Charlottesville, like other cities across the U.S., has been wrestling for years with what to do with Confederate monuments in its public spaces. A lawsuit over a statue-removal plan is ongoing and the figure of Lee on horseback has remained in place. The statue has been vandalized several times before.


Olympic National Park: Officials say 76 mountain goats were successfully moved from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the Cascade Mountains in July. Olympic National Park officials say 174 of the nonnative mammals have been rounded up and moved to the Cascades, where they belong, since September. Officials say five other goats died during capture efforts, three were euthanized because they were unfit for relocation, and one animal died in transit. Officials say four animals that could not be captured safely also were killed. Another round of goat relocation is planned for August. The Olympics have few natural salt licks. That makes it more likely goats there will be attracted to the sweat and urine of hikers, potentially endangering the hikers.

West Virginia

Charleston: The Police Department has started a crime-solving partnership using a database that links shell casings to specific guns. The Police Department on Wednesday announced it is now using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. The database compares high-resolution images of shell casings to find markings unique to a certain weapon. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is providing the system at no cost to the city. Police Chief Opie Smith says in a news release the database "has already proven to be beneficial in linking cases that otherwise would not have any apparent connections." The statement says a Charleston police detective who has been trained to use the system has been assigned to cases in which shell casings or firearms are recovered as evidence.


Altoona: Train fans are turning out to see the world's largest operating steam locomotive. The 133-foot-long Big Boy No. 4014 is part of Union Pacific's tour to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad. A crowd greeted the train and a historical exhibit on a rail car at the Union Pacific yard in Altoona on Tuesday. The restored engine is the only operating Big Boy locomotive of the 25 ever built. The Leader-Telegram reports the train began chugging eastward Wednesday morning.


Yellowstone National Park: Park officials say a bull bison tossed a 9-year-old girl into the air when the animal charged a group of about 50 tourists. Park officials say the bison rushed the group Monday after some of the tourists approached to within 5 to 10 feet of the animal over at least 20 minutes. The Odessa, Florida, girl was taken to Old Faithful Lodge by her family for treatment by emergency personnel. She was later taken to a clinic and released. Park officials did not disclose the extent of any injuries. The incident occurred near Observation Point Trail, in the area of Old Faithful Geyser. Injuries of tourists by bison and other wildlife occur regularly in Yellowstone, which gets about 4 million visitors annually.

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The business behind MLB expansion: Portland, Montreal and Raleigh taking different approaches to landing a team - CBS Sports

Posted: 17 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

In the late 1960s, Major League Baseball had more blemishes than it could cover, including dwindling crowds, sluggish play and a broad sense from all quarters the game used to be better. As a remedy, baseball turned to its favorite elixir: expansion. With the start of the 1969 season, baseball introduced the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres. Not everyone welcomed them warmly. Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean, then in his 50s, grumbled about a comeback since "they bring anybody up to the majors nowadays."

Dean wasn't the only skeptic. Expansion bumped the total attendance figures, but the per-game average dipped for a third consecutive year. Fans seemed over the in-person experience. Ford Frick, baseball's commissioner until 1965, appeared prophetic when he had warned the owners earlier in the decade against adding too much, too quickly -- a sentiment not shared by the congresspeople who petitioned Frick's successor, William Eckert, to create three additional teams in time for the '69 season. Eckert declined, blaming the ongoing expansion efforts and the military draft as having "greatly limited the availability of professional baseball talent." 

Los Angeles Dodgers president Walter O'Malley, meanwhile, was concerned about a different brand of sparseness. He felt expansion would "exhaust every community with enough money to build a stadium." O'Malley meant domestically -- he envisioned future expansion occurring abroad, beyond the borders of the United States. Expansion to the people in charge was no more than a business transaction; to the fans, it was a chance to claim part of America's pastime as their own.

Baseball has since added six teams without venturing farther outside the continental U.S. than Canada. The last round of expansion, more than 20 years old, resulted in the creation of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now just Rays). It seems unlikely baseball will go two more decades without adding -- especially since the National Football League and, as planned for 2021, the National Hockey League have each expanded to 32 teams during the interim period. Baseball's conditions would appear sub-optimal for expansion. There are countless issues to reckon with, including the potential for a work stoppage in the coming years. The similarities between where baseball is now and where it was in the '60s, when the league decided the more the merrier, suggests the possibility shouldn't be overlooked.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has done his part to sell expansion as a credible option. Every six months, he names a handful of markets, only to postpone the courtship before setting a date. Manfred is careful to attach caveats, having laid the groundwork for future negotiations. Those hopeful cities must remain limber without being assured action. They are baseball's bullpen, to be acknowledged when and only when they're needed. MLB, to paraphrase the song, wants hopeful markets to be green, mean and everything more -- to be willing to take the leap of faith in building a stadium without first being awarded a team, either through expansion or relocation.

Expansion is an industry upon itself -- then and now -- with factories hard at work in Portland, in Montreal, in Raleigh and elsewhere. These cities, with varying degrees of justification, are chasing their big-league dreams. The problem with dreams is even the best tend to evaporate when met by the pale light of budgets, laws and practicality. Expansion is baseball's biggest inspiration, bringing hope of a major-league tomorrow to unsettled lands, and its biggest racket. Whether pro or against, understanding expansion is a must -- for it will loom as a possibility until it again becomes a reality. 

On the edge of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, downstream from the Fremont Bridge, there's an old shipping terminal. It's about 100 miles from Mount Hood, the tallest point in the state, and a 10-minute drive from what used to be named the Rose Garden, where the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers play their home games. Terminal 2 is owned by the Port of Portland and stretches 45 to 53 acres, depending on the estimator. The terminal no longer stores marine cargo. These days, it's a set of "vacant parking lots and unused cranes and empty warehouses." If a local group succeeds, Terminal 2 will soon be home to a major-league team. 

The Portland Diamond Project is fronted by Craig Cheek, a longtime Nike executive whose biography has him spending some time in the movie/media content space. Ex-Trail Blazers play-by-play person Mike Barrett serves as managing director, while local former big-leaguers Dale Murphy and Darwin Barney are baseball consultants. R&B star Ciara and her husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, headline the group's investors list. Leveraging celebrity is one way PDP has gained credibility. Another way is with a sleek website where fans can purchase Pride- and Independence Day-themed swag, much the way they might through an existing team's store. In lieu of buying tickets, Portland fans can gaze at ballpark concept images, complete with millennials snapping selfies on the boardwalk, the garden roof deck and in the gondola suite -- yes, the gondola suite.

"It's all about exceeding the fans' expectation," Cheek told CBS Sports. "Part of that is tapping into where our fans want to experience the game, so we've got a lot of ideas -- especially with our quirkiness that Portland's known for, and our youthfulness. We think we can actually be a great thought leader and a great incubator for Major League Baseball to push the fan experience and really grow the game with the next generation."

Cheek is quick with the buzzwords and with facts about Portland's baseball past. The Rose City's history with the game dates back to the 1860s. Ted Williams, among others, played at Vaughn Street Park. The No. 1 pick in June's draft, Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, wowed scouts about 90 minutes from where PDP hopes to hang the gondolas. Portland may have lost the Triple-A Beavers earlier in the decade, but Oregon houses three teams in the Northwest League: Eugene, Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer. Baseball has a place in Portland, the reasoning goes, because baseball has always had a place in Portland. Even the pursuit of a big-league club is nothing new: Portland tried to lure the Montreal Expos before they were delivered to Washington, D.C. in September 2004.

David Kahn, best known for his rocky tenure as Minnesota Timberwolves general manager, was behind the effort to land the Expos. Cheek seems unbothered by Kahn's misfire, and by people asking how this attempt at a big-league christening is any different. "We don't look at that as a failure. We look at it as if it wasn't our time but now it is," he said. "Fast forward 15 years, the city has grown exponentially. The corporate support is here. The fan base is here."

Portland's passion for its three professional teams -- the Blazers, Timbers (MLS), and Thorns (NWSL) -- can be verified objectively. The Blazers drew more fans per game last season than the big-market behemoth trio of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. The Timbers packed in more than 20,000 fans per game, while the Thorns have exceeded 16,000 devotees per game in each of the past two seasons -- a remarkable accomplishment given only one other team in the National Women's Soccer League drew more than 6,000 per game. (The Timbers and Thorns' success even precipitated a 4,000-seat expansion at Providence Park.) Cheek refers to Portland as an "underserved city" multiple times throughout the conversation, and what he means by that is the demand for professional sports exceeds the supply.

Other pluses working in Portland's favor include a larger television market than Nashville, Las Vegas and most American cities vying for MLB's attention. The aforementioned potential for corporate support shouldn't be overlooked, either. Cheek refers to Portland as the "sports, athletic, and outdoor industry epicenter capital of the world" due to the city serving as home to headquarters of apparel giants Nike, Under Armour, and Columbia. "When we look at the market, just all the indicators are we're a very, very viable market for Major League Baseball," he said.

The indicators may paint a rosy picture of Portland's viability, but there are thorns to be found.

Building a stadium requires a confluence of skill, planning and luck, similar to building a championship roster. To succeed, one needs good location, financing, zoning and infrastructure. Not every stadium built checks each box. But then, most stadiums are built for existing teams. Those groups trying to convince MLB to let them in through expansion have to prove their competency somehow. Landing a park is essentially the final exam. 

Portland didn't obtain the Expos, but the efforts did lead to a bill being passed promising up to $150 million in public financing toward a stadium once a team was acquired. Most of the money would be collected from the income taxes of the players and officials. Businesses within a certain distance would contribute through licensing fees and revenue sharing. In the past year various Oregon Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, have stated their intent to repeal the bill as public financing of stadiums has grown less popular with voters over the past decade-plus. If and how PDP would finance its billion-dollar riverside park -- complete with boardwalk, garden, gondolas, and a retractable, translucent roof -- in the event the $150 million is dashed remains unclear. 

The possibility of losing funding hasn't prevented Cheek from articulating an ambitious view of the future. 

"With the trends that we're seeing, like with the Battery in Atlanta, these ballparks can truly be transformational for a bigger idea than just baseball," Cheek said, referring to the Braves' controversial compound. "We're looking at this becoming the new neighborhood, the new district, the new hub for Portland, where it all comes together; work with play. We can see thousands of housing units. We can see mixed-use retail. We can see restaurants on the water. We can see artisans and maker spaces and small Portland companies being headquartered in this district." 

Cheek's vision may prove overzealous for the proposed Terminal 2 site. There are considerable zoning and transportation hang-ups for PDP and the city of Portland to navigate. The stadium would sit two miles from the nearest light rail station, and wouldn't offer great access to buses or the freeway. Water taxis zipping across the Willamette could alleviate some of the bottleneck effect, but getting more than 30,000 devotees in and out in a reasonable time would seem to require additional infrastructure -- and years of planning, and oodles of cash. PDP has since negotiated a six-month extension with the Port of Portland on its due diligence period. 

A lengthy delay would be a sub-optimal outcome for PDP, which is racing similar groups across the continent. If there is an upshot, it's how every market has pluses to trumpet and minuses to mutter. "It's like choosing a fighter in Mortal Kombat," said urban designer Josh Frank, who is located in the Tampa Bay area and consulted with the Rays on a ballpark as part of his college coursework at the University of South Florida. "All these metro areas have categories, some of them are higher and some of them are lower, and it's about trying to choose the right fighter. You try to find one that probably has a little bit of everything and isn't very heavily weighted in one or two categories." 

Identifying a stadium location can feel like picking between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, too. PDP's selection of Terminal 2 demonstrates how challenging the task is -- even for the well-connected and well-incentivized. 

In an ideal world, the team would stumble upon a large, vacant lot in a densely populated area adjacent to restaurants, bars, and tourist destinations. The surrounding neighborhood would offer sufficient access to trains and buses and would be safe enough to be deemed walkable, easing the burden on developers by removing the need for endless parking lots. The stadium site would sit within hollering distance of corporate sponsors, whose executives could root for the home team every night after work just as soon as the company dished out for costly suites. 

Finding a pre-existing location with those attributes is as common as finding a Joshua tree in the rainforest. Teams have adapted to this reality by building districts of their own -- be it the Battery, or Texas Live!, a bar/restaurant/shopping complex built adjacent to the Texas Rangers' new ballpark opening next year. The "mixed-use" approach so often touted by owners is more beneficial to the teams in the long run, anyway. As Frank notes, teams can make greater profits by developing then selling the land. The stadium becomes a secondary motivation -- the bait for others, not the score. Alas, teams having control over what -- and who -- is next door creates further complications. "What these teams are trying to do is create their core demographic in a district," Frank said. "White male, medium to high income, tech-oriented." 

Almost as if on the beck of a league-wide directive, baseball has taken to prioritizing the upper-class fan above all. This is an affluent individual who can shell out for tickets, gear and food without worrying about their budget. Teams have all but admitted as much publicly. In 2015, an executive with the Los Angeles Angels said, "We may not be reaching as many of the people on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, but those people, they may enjoy the game, but they pay less, and we're not seeing the conversion on the per-caps." The executive later resigned. 

Cheek wasn't hinting at these socioeconomic elements when he referenced the Battery, but the desire to appease the wealthy can and has already influenced where stadiums are being built -- and who they're being built to accommodate. The Braves were the first team in 40 years to move from downtown to a suburb. In doing so, they relocated from a predominantly black neighborhood to one mostly white. The move brought the Braves closer to their season-ticket base, yet clashed with their stated preference for better public transportation. It remains unclear how moving to a more remote area helped. (The neighborhood where Portland wants to build its ballpark had the lowest average income of any in the city, per data from 2009, which raises its own potential problems.) 

If established teams -- ones with large fan bases owed to decades of national television exposure -- can be impelled by impure motives, then surely so can unlaunched franchises. As John Helyar concluded in "The Lords of the Realm," now some 25 years ago, the expansion process is all about who can "fork over the most money." 

Tropicana Field used to be leveraged against cities as a viable alternative. USATSI

Portland's pitch for expansion is a compelling one -- particularly the potential for ravenous crowds and lucrative corporate sponsors. The team would need their local backing to be strong, too, because the minute it came into existence it would join the ranks of the small-market teams. For comparison's sake, Portland's TV share is smaller than Cleveland's, which has provided the best- and worst-case scenarios over the past couple decades. The best: Portland sells out its riverside paradise for years upon years, the way Cleveland did with Progressive Field; the worst: Portland's ownership handcuffs its front office with budgetary restraints, even after the group assembles a pennant contender. 

Market share isn't a problem exclusive to Portland -- or to Nashville, or to Las Vegas, or to any other American city with seamhead aspirations. Almost anywhere baseball expands in the coming years will rank in the bottom half to bottom third of TV markets. Therein is part of the argument against expansion. Why should owners make room at the table, reducing their share of the profits and the talent, to add more small-market teams? The answer might be as simple as the instant gratification offered by an exorbitant expansion fee. 

Back when the Diamondbacks and the Rays joined MLB, each group had to pony up $130 million. The fee would likely be multiple times higher now. Seattle's NHL franchise is having to pay $650 million to join the league. MLB's revenues are believed to be more than double the NHL's, meaning its expansion fee could top $1 billion. Multiply by two, divide by 30, and owners could pocket nearly $70 million apiece. What the owners and the league as a whole must answer is whether $70 million is worth it -- not just to share the pie, but to use another plate.

One tried-and-true method teams use to land stadiums is threatening to move elsewhere if they don't succeed. With MLB angling for new homes for the Rays and Oakland Athletics (and saying expansion won't occur until after those teams are squared away), and beginning the process for the Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels, maintaining a vacancy in a viable market could pay dividends. To the untrained eye, such an approach appears nonsensical, a waste of fertile soil. But the NFL did something similar with Los Angeles over that city's 20-year absence from professional football. "One of the things that helped NFL teams immensely over the last generation, until just the last couple of years, was having Los Angeles open," said Michael Leeds, the chair of the economics department at Temple University. "Any team that wanted to renegotiate the stadium deal, or wanted a new facility built -- all they had to do was mention the words Los Angeles, and the city would have to take notice."

The Tampa Bay area being on the other end of these talks is evidence of a humorous universe, because Tampa Bay used to be MLB's best port for delivering new stadiums to its teams. Leeds tells of a potentially apocryphal story from the pre-Rays era. In the story, a marketing executive is meeting with baseball owners. The executive tells the owners he's going to show them a picture of the game's most important stadium. He reveals a photo of Tropicana Field. "But there's no team there," the confused owners object. "Exactly," the executive replies.

The implication is as clear as the bay water: Leverage is God's gift, making Tampa Bay manna from heaven.

According to Bob Andelman's "Stadium for Rent," the region missed out eight times before landing the Rays. One close call came in the '80s, when Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf threatened to take his ballclub south if he didn't get a new playhouse. Reinsdorf later placed his cards face up in an interview with -- of all the publications -- Cigar Aficionado magazine. "A savvy negotiator creates leverage," Reinsdorf said. He explained how "people had to think we were going to leave Chicago" in order for him to get his way. And get his way he did: By the time the 1991 season rolled around, the White Sox were opening their brand new ballpark -- in Chicago.

Reinsdorf's bluff, among others involving Tampa Bay, worked for various reasons. Tropicana Field has become an easy target for jokes and criticism, yet the existence of a viable stadium made it a realistic threat. Ditto some of the internal data the league had collected on the market. Andelman quotes former NL president Bill Giles, who praised the excellent local TV ratings as a reason he nearly granted St. Petersburg an expansion team in the early '90s. On the flip side, Giles said marketers had told them people who lived in Tampa "had a psychological barrier" about going into St. Petersburg often. Research conducted on merchandise sales also had Tampa Bay "near the bottom." Nearly 30 years later, those points could, arguably, still describe the ups and downs of the Tampa Bay baseball market. 

MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays
Some Rays fans are already bracing for the team's split-residency.  USATSI

In June, the Rays received permission from MLB to pursue a split-city agreement with Montreal. The idea, as explained by owner Stuart Sternberg, would entail the Rays playing the early portion of their schedule in St. Petersburg before hopping on a flight to Montreal to finish out the season. In Sternberg's vision, both St. Petersburg and Montreal would help facilitate brand-new open-air stadiums (and the union would permit their members to be tasked with swapping countries halfway through the season, the way they might change bats or cleats). How Sternberg intends to escape the use agreement with the city of St. Petersburg, which runs through 2027, is anyone's guess.

Who Sternberg hopes will deliver him and the Rays north of the border has come into clearer focus. Stephen Bronfman, the son of Expos founder Charles Bronfman, recalls eating peanuts during batting practice whenever he'd attend games with his father. Now in his 50s, and nearly 30 years removed from the family selling the Expos, Bronfman has resurfaced as the champion of a movement started by former Expos player Warren Cromartie. The goal is simple: return MLB to the City of Saints for the first time since 2004. 

Bronfman's inclusion in Sternberg's scheme is compelling for various reasons. There are the obvious connections to the sport and to Montreal, but there's also a long-forgotten report in the New York Times where Murray Chass noted MLB approached Bronfman about taking over the franchise before the league handed the reins to Jeffrey Loria. Bronfman declined to grant the Expos salvation, begetting Loria's ownership, which wrought destruction to the team. After Loria and John Henry completed an ownership double-switch, involving the then-Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox, Loria's group was allowed to take most of the franchise with them to Miami -- even the computers.

Before the Expos were put to rest, Bronfman's father and 13 other Canadian companies sued Bud Selig, Bob DuPuy, Loria and David Samson on the grounds of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The Canadian group alleged Selig and crew had conspired to "eliminate Major League Baseball in Montreal." An arbitration panel later acknowledged Montreal had the right to feel betrayed -- but ruled in Selig's favor. Selig took the RICO case "very personally," per Bronfman, and it damaged his longstanding friendship with Charles. Bronfman said he visited Selig toward the the end of his tenure and apologized "for the family" and "for what happened over that time." It was then when Selig told Bronfman he wanted to rekindle his friendship with Charles -- and "at some point to see Major League Baseball back in Montreal." The seed for a Montreal return was planted.

However the seed may bloom, Bronfman has a checklist for what makes a successful franchise. He believes there are five legs, much like a stool. Those five elements include very strong mixed-used development, great media partnership, strong local corporate support, great fan base, and very well managed business. Bronfman does not present these legs as being ordinal in nature, yet he might be nearing a deal to secure No. 1 -- the mixed-use development. Recently, Bronfman reached an agreement with a developer to pursue land at the Peel Basin. In theory, this could be the future home of the Rays, the Expos, or whatever they're called (the name is unimportant to him).

As with Portland, there is logistical red tape to cut through before Montreal would be ready to play ball. One advantage Montreal would seem to have is Bronfman's designation about how public financing would be unnecessary. He has offered a follow-up comment, suggesting other kinds of help would be required. What does that mean? "You need infrastructural help, you need zoning, you do need some financial help ... when I made that statement about no dollars needed, direct investment into the team, that was more from the city's point of view.

"We had not had financing discussions with the province but the province would be involved in helping the overall stadium project come together. We also have a length around the land that's a private public partnership of a light rail system that'll give great access to public transit to the site. So, there's a lot of things that government would help with," Bronfman said. "You know some potential financing on the development, but those all have terms and they have the paybacks for the province and city. So, that's not certain, but direct cash into any project is not needed."

This could in time prove true of Bronfman's efforts in Montreal. In other markets, new and old, teams continue to find ways to wring public financing from local governments. 

Stuart Sternberg isn't the first owner to try creating leverage against a city. USATSI

Just as the falcon cannot hear the falconer, oftentimes city officials cannot see the truth through sports' teams smokescreens. 

Neil deMause, who wrote the book and maintains the website about stadium swindles, can recall countless ridiculous schemes orchestrated by team owners to land a new stadium or arena. Eventually, Sternberg's proposed two-city solution might take the prize for the most ludicrous attempt at extracting leverage. For now, one egregious example was when the Pittsburgh Penguins were politicking for a new igloo. Owner and franchise icon Mario Lemieux was spotted in Kansas City and Las Vegas, fueling speculation the Penguins were shopping around their residency. Just as soon as the Penguins secured a rink in Pittsburgh, Lemieux dismissed those sightings elsewhere by saying: "Those trips to Kansas City and Vegas and other cities was just to go and have a nice dinner and come back."

Owners like Lemieux and Reinsdorf have published pages from the owners' playbook, and have clowned politicians in the process. So, why do cities continue to sign off on stadium subsidies? There is no one answer, but there are a number of theories and potential explanations, beginning upfront with misleading economic impact studies.

In interviews with Cheek and Bronfman, both referenced studies conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International. Purportedly independent in nature, CSL is a subsidy of Legends Hospitality, a joint venture between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees -- two organizations who benefit from new stadiums. DeMause refers to CSL as a "conflict of interest made flesh." Conversations with employees at CSL and similar firms have revealed to him the internal mandate is "not to provide an independent economic analysis," but "to provide something that will justify what the client wants." Like, say, an expensive ballpark.

Victor Matheson, a professor at Holy Cross and an editor for the Journal of Sports Economics, offers advice for anyone who comes across one of these economic impact reports: move the decimal to the left. For example, Portland's ballpark is estimated to result in an impact of $333 million per year over 30 years, or $10 billion. Using Matheson's rule of thumb, those figures would be shaved to $33 million per season, or $1 billion over 30 years -- a more realistic, if perhaps still juiced projection about stadiums' impact on the local economy.

Countless studies, of greater rigor and legitimacy than the ones offered by consulting firms, have over the years shown stadiums are poor investments for cities. Using bed taxes or withholding player income taxes to fund a stadium seems harmless -- except for the opportunity cost involved. Every dollar spent on a stadium is one not spent on schools, hospitals, infrastructure -- institutions likelier to impact the quality of life for a greater number of people than a new ballpark. What economic impact stadiums do offer is often misunderstood, too. Economists refer to the "substitution effect" in these cases. It's similar to opportunity cost. If a family of four is spending money at the ballpark, it won't be spending money at the movies. Stadiums aren't value creators so much as they are value re-distributors, from other local businesses to themselves, often without the best-compensated employees pumping those dollars back into the economy. One study even found a local economy improved after a team left the area.

Obviously there are non-financial reasons to build a stadium -- the team they house can be a source of civic pride, and can bring the community together -- but, for the most part, the math suggests they're more hype than substance. Governments seem to be catching on. Matheson pointed out the percentage of public financing in new stadiums has dipped since the 2008 recession. Some politicians, including presidential hopeful Cory Booker, have attempted to end federal subsidies for sports stadiums. There are many who hope the practice remains legal, however. "Just because stadiums are a bad deal for cities as a whole, doesn't mean that there aren't special interests that stand to make a lot of money," Matheson said. Among those groups: construction companies, property owners, lawyers, and lobbyists -- a D.C. group once paid longtime baseball executive Peter Bavasi  more than $200,000 to network on their behalf.

The officials who cough up the sweetest deals are falling victim to various forces, beginning with the edifice complex. As deMause explained, "Local officials like to build things they can point at." When not indulging their inner Robert Moses, the politicians may fear a lost team will result in a lost election. (Leeds has started researching if this is a true or merely an urban legend.) And, because sports owners are often powerful people, they can manipulate other influencers and businesses into cajoling the mayor (or whomever) on their behalf -- leading to a decision more beneficial for a billionaire than their constituency. No wonder the late Jim Bouton once wrote, "The fiercest competition in sports these days is not between teams or leagues, but between governments and their own citizens."

As with stores, teams are always having to adjust their nudges as cities grow wiser. Some of the more common tricks rolled out include the threat of relocation (or, in the case of expansion markets, discontinuation of the effort); vague commentary about how a new stadium will help a team -- the "how" part is often omitted; and pitching a new ballpark as a venue with 365-day use potential. Stadiums built for baseball, it turns out, are often good for only baseball. Some teams may even lie and suggest their fancy sandlot will pay for itself. The evidence says: not likely. "The greatest misconception about sports stadiums and arenas is that they make money," deMause said. "I would guesstimate 80 to 90 percent of new buildings do not pay for their own construction costs, let alone have any money left over afterward. So, if you just looked at them as, would this thing pay for itself? The answer is no.

"They're not looking for stadiums because they want stadiums, they're looking for stadiums because they want the subsidies. If you go to the state legislature and say, 'Can I have half a billion dollars because I'm a rich guy and I really want to have another half a billion dollars?' the state legislature will say, 'Yeah, no, we're not really in the business of that.' If you go to the state legislature and say, 'I need a new stadium because that's what I need to make my business successful and make this city great and I need half a billion dollars so I can do it,' they say, 'Let's talk.'"

The one way a community can avoid losing the game is to not engage by the game's rules.

Were "Family Feud" (or a sports-themed derivative) to ask 100 people what Pat Williams was best known for, the top answers would likely be a four-time NBA general manager, a renowned good-luck charm for the draft lottery and perhaps a best-selling author. Some may know him as a former professional baseball player, but not many would be aware of his history as an award-winning minor-league executive, or his efforts to land the city of Orlando a big-league team. 

Before the Marlins and Rays were awarded to Miami and St. Petersburg, Williams spearheaded multiple attempts at bringing baseball to Florida. He still has the napkin on which he sprawled his original pitch to William duPont, then the owner of the Orlando Magic. The efforts didn't succeed, and despite the napkin's implication, not for a lack of sophistication. Orlando's first campaign went beyond the normal scope. The group purchased a minor-league team to gain the territorial rights and renamed them the SunRays to get jump start on branding. Further, they named a manager (Bob Boone) and multiple front-office personnel (including Bobby Richardson as a consultant). The hope, Williams said, was that MLB would see how serious they were about their pursuit and reward them for their initiative.

Baseball did not reward Orlando. Rather, the group fell short for various reasons, beginning with consternation about duPont being replaced as the money person by Rich deVos. Williams recalls he was once told by an official they chose Miami over Orlando because when they took a helicopter ride over both cities, they noticed only tree tops in Orlando, as opposed to house tops in Miami. ("Under the tree tops were house tops," Williams replied.) Later, Williams said baseball granted St. Petersburg a team to prevent lawsuits stemming from the city's past pursuits.

When Williams is asked what he'd advise current groups jockeying for a team, he ticks off the same three categories everyone else identifies as vital. He first says to make sure the owner, or group leader, has deep pockets. He then talks about the importance of a stadium, or a plan for a stadium. At last, he addresses the community aspect, noting how selling season-ticket deposits door-to-door helped Orlando land the Magic in the first place. Williams then seems to add a fourth aspect to his list: himself -- or, a proxy who is enthusiastic and committed. In his own words, someone who is "going to so many chicken lunches" to woo the community "that at night he doesn't sleep, he roosts."

If Williams' checklist is indicative of what MLB looks for -- and it is -- then the efforts in Portland, Montreal and other cities stand a chance of being awarded a franchise in the coming years, or whenever Manfred opts for expansion. Conversely, the burgeoning effort in Raleigh, North Carolina, is more far-fetched. "MLB Raleigh," as its called, doesn't have an owner or investors lined up. It doesn't have a stadium, or a land agreement in place. It hasn't schmoozed with local politicians or Major League Baseball. And the wildest part: All of this is by design. Raleigh's group doesn't want to win over investors or the league -- it wants to win over the community first before pushing onward.

The point guard behind Raleigh's push is Lou Pascucci, a 35-year-old user experience designer for IBM. Pascucci was born in New Jersey, but moved to North Carolina when he was in the fourth grade. He's adamant the Raleigh-Durham area is a legitimate baseball market -- one who can support the Durham Bulls and a nearby big-league team, the way Seattle supports the Mariners and the Tacoma Rainiers. Pascucci's case extends beyond emotion. Years ago, he and his friends wondered what they were missing whenever Charlotte was named and Raleigh was snubbed as a potential expansion market. So, they collected and analyzed the data -- and did nothing with any of it until a few years passed. "One day, when Manfred started to talk about expansion two years ago, we got back together and we started to say, 'Look, it doesn't seem like there's any movement in Raleigh. But these numbers have to get out there,'" Pascucci said. "We came together and decided to run a campaign -- and not do what they usually do."

The statistical analysis conducted by Pascucci's group extends beyond evaluating population and TV market numbers. Some of their findings were gleaned from the census, using the "metropolitan statistical area" and the "combined statistical area." They host a collection of their most marketable tidbits on their website, highlighting how Raleigh-Durham compares favorably with a number of places that already have MLB teams; how Raleigh was the "second-fastest growing metro area from 2010-17", behind Austin-Round Rock, Texas; and how Raleigh is the "No. 1 richest metro area in the continental U.S. without a MLB team within 100 miles."

The traditional approach would have been to package the numbers and use them to attract investors. Pascucci and his friends have instead taken a different approach; a healthier one, albeit one less likely to land them a team.

Rather than build from the top-down, Pascucci and his friends are organizing from the bottom-up. This entails, among other things, staging rallies and selling merchandise. Grifting is all the rage in 2019, but that isn't the case here. The money isn't going into Pascucci's pockets, or any individual's wallet or bank account. "All the profits that we're making off this are going back into the community to help fix up baseball fields and to help promote baseball in underserved areas of our community," he said. "We don't want to seem like Raleigh is just another place with some decent numbers that wants a Major League Baseball team; we want to put our money where our mouth is."

There is some guile to MLB Raleigh's altruism. For instance, the group has collaborated with the Boys and Girls Club in part due to MLB's fondness for the organization -- as a way of showing they're big-league in some ways, if not others. The buy-in from other aspects of the Raleigh-Durham community seems to have heartened Pascucci, too, who notes how designers and construction companies -- the same ones renovating downtown Raleigh -- are donating their time, passion, and talents for free to build dugouts and work on the fields using supplies purchased by the group.

Pascucci acknowledges the thinking behind the Raleigh campaign is a departure from what's happening with Cheek in Portland and Bronfman in Montreal, among other prospective owners in potential markets. In a follow-up email, he wrote how MLB Raleigh wants to "become the antithesis of what the business of baseball has become." He continued: "The game is not dying because of the pace or because the rules need adjusting. It's dying because the very things that made it special are being overshadowed by the very thing every American is sick of: big business and greed."

To Pascucci's point, the expansion effort is a business within itself. Cheek, Bronfman, and others may be invested in their communities -- and the people within them. But baseball is not -- no more so than as potential consumers who can help make the league more money. What Raleigh is doing, focusing on winning over the fans rather than the suits, feels like the preferred approach. It's also an approach unlikely to succeed -- if success is measured by landing a team. If success is measured by another rubric, like instilling a love of baseball in the community -- and doing so without the bitter aftertaste often left by the business element -- then perhaps Raleigh is the winner of the bunch. "If for some reason it doesn't work out, then we've helped promote the game in our community," Pascussi said. "That's what works, that's what we've been talking about since Day 1: This is a baseball market. This is a baseball town."

Does your property insurance cover water damage? - Charlotte Observer

Posted: 06 Oct 2015 12:00 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Does your property insurance cover water damage?  Charlotte Observer

This column was written by Bob Freitag of AmeriClaims, Inc., a firm of public insurance adjusters in Indian Trail, that represents individuals, organizations, and ...


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