Sports Fixation: Now It’s The Police And Firefighters Games

You need to read right to the end of this article. The absurdity of it all will hit you as suddenly as it did me.

I never was a jock and I am still not one. Heck, in high school I was lucky if I got a “C” in Phys Ed.

That didn’t mean though that I didn’t like sports. When I lived in Toronto, when I was younger,  long before the Blue Jays, I used to go to many Toronto baseball games when Toronto was in the Triple “A” League. I collected autographs of many players who played for Toronto and then went into the Majors.

In the wintertime, I used to go to see the Junior A games at Maple Leaf Gardens. I was a St. Mike’s fan and really didn’t like watching the Toronto Marlies playing.

I listened to baseball on the radio on CKEY, “called” the game with Foster Hewitt when hockey first appeared on television and was a big Cleveland Browns fan when their games appeared on Buffalo television. That’s probably why I don’t like the Detroit Lions because they always beat the Browns.

What this is leading to is that I don’t understand why Cities have to spend so much money on sports facilities for professional teams or go into debt for years for Olympic facilities or believe that they are really going to make a lot of money on tourism or appear on the world stage merely because some sports event comes to a City for a few days.

No matter what the event, those in a City who are responsible for bringing the event always claim that so many millions of dollars are brought into the city because of tourism. When one actually tries to figure out what the real amount of money is then invariably it is substantially less. Take a look at the claim for the Red Bull air races that took place in Windsor. It was claimed that 1 billion people watched them on television. If that is the case, since few tourists have come here as a result of that event, it could well be argued that these sports events are dismal failures.

Look at Windsor. We probably have spent $150 million-$200 million on the East End Arena and the Aquatic Centre. The Arena is losing money, not just the $600-$700,000 per year on operating losses but the $4 or $5 million or more per year that we are not getting as a rate of return on our investment.

Who knows how much the Aquatic Centre will lose but lose it will. How do I know that? Simple. Who has bought the naming rights for that building and how much has been paid for it? Seriously, who would pay a penny? Any major international event will not take place there but rather at the Arena because the Centre is too small. It will be the Arena that gets the publicity, assuming that the City can afford to pay $10 million each time for a temporary pool to be installed there, not the Centre. What good is it then to be a Sponsor!

What then is the purpose for spending so much money on sports, sports events and sports facilities, especially when we have other needs that are more important.

Somebody will have to give me a much better explanation about the new arena in Detroit than this kind of nonsense. I wonder if the same people who did the economics on the DRIC bridge in the Governor’s office did the economics on what is being proposed:

“A state board on Wednesday unanimously gave the go-ahead for a new Red Wings hockey arena in downtown Detroit to be paid for in part with $284 million in tax dollars even as the broke city works through bankruptcy proceedings.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and others defended against criticism that the $650 million project should be financed entirely with private money because the city currently can’t provide basic services and retirees are facing cuts in their pensions. The 18,000-seat arena is designed to be a catalyst for more development and to link downtown and midtown, turning a blighted area into a business, residential and entertainment district.

“This is part of investing in Detroit’s future,” said Snyder, a Republican who blessed a state-appointed emergency manager’s request to take the city into bankruptcy last week. “That’s the message we need to get across. … As we stabilize the city government’s finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression — although there are great things already going on — to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the Detroit Downtown Development Authority’s request to use economic development taxes for the project. The board also took a preliminary step toward issuing $450 million in bonds to build the arena, to be paid off in no more than 30 years by the Red Wings’ owner and the city.” (Associated Press, July 24, 2013)

I am sure that the Governerd can explain why the City of Detroit was put into bankruptcy and people like police and fire fighters might see their pensions reduced drastically but there is enough money to spend on the sports arena.

Look at how our East End that was supposed to become our  new downtown has not yet been revitalized by the Arena going there. The Aquatic Centre, Mr. Farhi is closing down his hotel right beside it and turning it into a student residence. That is how much he believes that the swimming pool will help us.

Let me take it to the next step if one wants to talk about absurdity. We learned that our Mayor is off on another one of his European jaunts, business-class at taxpayer expense, to find some more swim meets for our Aquatic Centre. Is that all that this guy does to try to justify the spending of so much money on a facility that is not needed, is in the wrong place and it looks like, well, the Chrysler plant with its gray and blue colors but on a smaller scale? Where the Mayor of Chatham goes overseas looking for jobs, our Mayor looks for swimmers.

But there is even more absurdity as you shall find out subsequently. You need to scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on with this world when you read garbage like this:

“By Wednesday, Francis will be in Ireland for presentations connected to a joint bid with Detroit to play host to a future World Police & Fire Games. One of the largest international multisport events in the world, Belfast hosts this year’s 10-day edition of the biennial gathering that can attract up to 10,000 competitors.

“It’s a very significant event … (but) we’re still at the very, very beginning – this is the first step,” said Francis, who was invited as a delegate by the Detroit Visitors and Convention Bureau, which is leading the initiative. “Windsor’s role would be supportive” in any such undertaking, he added, primarily in providing hotel rooms and hospitality for what would be a multimillion-dollar injection into the local economies.

Asked why Detroit would be on the other side of the globe, pursuing fun and games and sports a week after declaring bankruptcy, Francis said it was the local government that was declared insolvent, “the city itself is alive and well.” International sports tourism, including those events being pursued this week, “are very significant economic drivers,” he added.” (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star July 30, 2013)

Seriously Edgar? To have an event like that coming to a City requires a huge amount of money to be paid out by the City and probably the State and maybe even the Federal Government. Remember how the Mayor in Québec focused so much attention on the FINA meet that he took his eyes off the ball with respect to City affairs.

Are they all completely out of their mind? Here is why. From Wikipedia:

“The World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) is a biennial athletic event, open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service personnel throughout the world.

The Games attract approximately 10,000 entrants, slightly fewer than the Summer Olympic Games, and exceeding the third position holder, the Commonwealth Games.”

The sites for the games have already been picked for 2015 and 2017 so the earliest for the games would be here would be in 2019. But consider that it is a major international competitive event, almost the size of the Olympic Games.

Doesn’t anybody remember what Mayor Bing said about holding the Olympic Games in Detroit just a few months ago, in March:

Detroit Won’t Chase Olympics
By Dave Bing, Mayor of Detroit

(DETROIT, MI) – While we appreciate the opportunity and recognize that we have successfully hosted many major sporting events, including the NCAA Final Four; MLB All-Star Game; NFL Super Bowl; two World Series; and nine NHL Stanley Cup finals, this decision is not an easy one.

With our rich history of hosting major events and Detroit’s prime location on an international border, we recognize that this makes Detroit an appealing candidate to potentially host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

However, the bid calls for a $10 million upfront bid process payment and adding more than a $3 billion operating budget commitment — not including costs associated with venue construction and other infrastructure cost.

Unfortunately, due to the timing and uncertainty of Detroit’s long-term financial stability, we must respectfully decline to participate.”

So please explain to me this stupidity about thinking that Detroit can host some major international sports event when it is in such dire financial shape. Even a new sports arena in Detroit is not enough.

Of course, there is a story behind the story. One wonders why Edgar has to go over just for a mere first step. Doesn’t a Mayor go over to clinch the deal not to start it off. After all the Star story said:

“It’s a very significant event … (but) we’re still at the very, very beginning – this is the first step,” said Francis.”

Oh, but you are probably already ahead of me. You remember when I wrote this article “Detroit’s Loss Could Be Windsor’s Huge Loss” don’t you and I said:

“There, do you not see it…we are having in Windsor the faux Olympics, as my colleague refers to it, the International Children’s Games in 2013. Then we are having the FINA swim meet a few years later in 2016. What is next to be proposed before the 2014 elections to allow Windsor to be front and centre on the world’s stage..

Clearly, there is an opportunity for Edgar (aka Eddie) to make a bid on the Olympic Games to put Windsor on the world map, to make us a world-class city.”

I was wrong. It is not the Olympic Games that Edgar wants but something very close to it, the police and firefighters games! However, I spelled it out exactly in that article what is now going on today.

Come on. Edgar scooped the Red Bull air races from Detroit and ran them here.

You know how he got the International Children’s Games according to the Francis urban myth:

“ICG vice-president Igor Topole of Slovenia said the first time he heard of Windsor was during a five-minute breakfast interruption in Athens in 2009 when a brash Mayor Eddie Francis approached the executive in the cafeteria of a hotel in the Greek capital.” (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star July 19, 2013)

Once again Edgar is in on the ground floor. Watch him try to scoop it if Detroit falters.

There is no doubt that Windsor is a rich, powerful city that doesn’t need any stinkin’ Federal or Provincial money for an international Tunnel.  It can hold the equivalent of an Olympic Games here without raising property taxes. Just wait until Edgar tells us that. And why not believe him because we can build a Marina on that basis too and probably a new City Hall as well! Why, the Treasurer just told us that we have a surplus already in our Budget.

Just before posting this Article I reread it for typos and grammatical errors. I’m sure that there are some but never mind. All of a sudden, it hit me, the stupidity of it all for Edgar to be overseas to try to get the World Police and Fire Games.

I am certain that he will get an endorsement for his efforts from the local Police and Firefighters Unions. NOT!!!

What a nerve. Edgar has been singularly unable to negotiate a contract with them for many years, forced them to work without a contract, made both the Police and the Firefighters go to arbitration, ridiculed their awards and threatened that they would have to reduce their requirements if they received an award because taxpayers could not afford to give them salary increases. Yet, now he goes overseas and tries to get their games to Detroit/Windsor.  How many millions will that cost as he pleads poverty in front of the next Arbitrator.

Has the world gone mad!

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