Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Quad Cities

Oops, I had a date wrong on my “Museum Musings” blog, year 2003 not 2005. Sorry. I mentioned I stopped in Moline to learn more about the John Deere museum complex. It’s spread out over about 7 acres with approximately 40,000 feet of enclosures and free parking as well as free admission.

They cleaned up an area of blight at their own cost, same as Caterpillar plans to do in Peoria. The site consists of three major building and lots of free parking. The souvenir stands where doing a booming business as will Caterpillar who will probably close their merchandise shop in the Bank One area..

These structures were built in 1997 with no cost to the taxpayer except a very few dollars for some infrastructure. John Deere at that time was about a $14 billion dollar company who requested no other publicly supported museums, ect., had to be built before they would build their pavilions. By contrast, Caterpillar is a $30 billion dollar wealthy company who has told Lakeview Museum that they wouldn’t build unless Lakeview builds. How strange. But maybe not strange at all, when you consider that companies don’t just grow into $30 billion dollar companies by just hard work and good managers alone. Shrewdly, Caterpillar wants a commitment from the property tax payers, the Federal Government, the State Government and a million dollars off the new highway transportation bill, a countywide property tax increase amounting to $6 million dollars; a total amount of taxpayer dollars of $31 million.

What Caterpillar wants, they get. They wanted the ballpark to impress their out of town guests and customers, they wanted the RiverPlex so they would not have to build their own; unlike Boeing in Tacoma who built their own recreational center that even includes indoor tennis. Now they won’t build their long overdo Caterpillar Museum unless Lakeview funds theirs first. The track record of these two partially taxpayer funded facilities is not good. Neither does the Caterpillar supported new zoo which will probably sell more new bonds to close the 90% total funding they promised they would have in hand before they start to build.

I visited the Putnam Museum and IMAX theatre in Davenport across the river and the Children Zoo which were in walking distance to each other. The art and music building between these two centers was being evacuated to move down to the river. Different strokes for different folks. In visiting at a local restaurant, I learned not everyone was happy with the move.

There was a difference in mood between the people in the quad cities and Dubuque and Peoria. Quad city people seemed to want new business, not new entertainment. By the way, Davenport has a lower league ranking than our Peoria minor league baseball team but is outdrawing our Peoria Chiefs. Is that right, I ask Rocky, Don, Ralph, Chappy and Mike?? If so why?? Break even was projected to be 3500 a night average in 1999. With inflation I suggest break even is now at least 4000 PAID fans a night. Didn’t make it last year and this year doesn’t look promising yet, but the season is still young and Rocky sold the Lucky Lady so who knows, maybe the Chiefs will break a long financial losing spell. After all, the Cubbies are in town!!

I close with this reminder; facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored.


Anonymous said...

The Swing of the Quad Cities is in the SAME league as the Peoria Chiefs....they play each other.

Year-To-Date, Peoria has drew 114,919 fans averaging 3283 a game and the Quad Cities has drawn 78,459 averaging 2307 a game, so that argument is wrong.

Anonymous said...

"facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored."

Check your before posting, sir. Previous commentor corrected you on some FACTS about minor league baseball and I will say that Rocky didn't sell the Lucky Lady. He sold Rocky's Clubhouse. I don't believe he ever owned the Lady

Merle Widmer said...

I stand corrected on both counts. Sorry, I hate myself when I make mistakes. Not being a bar hopper, I got the two bars confused. I apologize to the owners of the Lucky Lady and promise to stop in soon and buy drinks for the house!

As to the Swing and the Chiefs, some clubs report attendance to be number of tickets sold or given away to the games, not the number of fans that actually attend. Big difference when counting concessions and souvenier sales.

An article in the WSJ on 6/10/05 says attendance at minor league baseball is up 6% since since 2000. How does that figure compare with the Chiefs, who drew over 8000 fans on opening night, May 24,2002. (On 9/17/04 Rocky was quoted by Wessler as saying annual attendance of 225,000 was needed to break even.(The JS reported attendance for the 2004 season was 211,598) They opened on May 24, 2002 with a cost of around $26.7 million (JS 4/17/99) including infrastructure improvement.You say they are averaging 3283 per game.

Ryan Ori of the JS in commenting on the departure of Vice President Mark Moehlenkamp said "in pursuing a downtown stadium, the team projected an annual attendance of around 300,000. One investor said he hasn't seen a financial statement from the team for the past fiscal year. Investors contend the team's numbers are padded. With three games remaining attendance for 2004 was 200,738".

The article in the WSJ talks about the Dayton Dragons, I believe I have this right that they are in the same league as the Chiefs. Dayton opened a new $22 million dollar stadium in 1998, capacity 7500 and has sold out every night since.

The article goes on to say that "informed buyers estimate that 70% of teams are either losing money or breaking even".

I am a part owner of the Peoria Chiefs, with a genuine stock certicate, $50,000.00 invested when approximately thirty of us bought the team from the guy from Chicago. My shares have been on the market for a long time and officially since 7/25/03. My best offer to date is $1.80 which I refused. Do I feel there is a potential buyer reading my blog? If so my asking price is $30.000.00.

Let's talk!!

By the way, what was the cost of the Quad Cities Swing Stadium?
Was it built in an enterprise zone like the Chiefs and did other businesses build up around the Quad Cities stadium as they were susposed to build around the Chiefs new stadium? Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

John O'Donnell stadium was built 75 years ago as part of a major riverfront renovation....was it an enterprise zone? Not sure, but there was taxpayer money involved.

I think the reason it looks like the Swing has better attenedance is because the stadium is smaller.