Home archived-iit IS IT TRUE the Division 2 Semifinals only drew 826 fans

IS IT TRUE the Division 2 Semifinals only drew 826 fans


IS IT TRUE that Evansville’s Ford Center hosted the national semifinals for the NCAA Division 2 tournament yesterday?…only 826 people bothered to show up making the nearly 10,000 seat arena seem empty?…in the picture in this article taken during the game between West Liberty and SC Aiken there is exactly one human being in the seats?…Ford Center not only seems to be an overkill for this event, it is doubtful that enough cash was taken in to pay the rent on the place?

IS IT TRUE at 2 o’clock today the national championship game will take place?…we encourage you all to get down to the stadium so the national TV audience does not think Evansville is a town with no people?…it is expected to be a very good game?…these athletes deserve better than Evansville has delivered?

D2 Semifinals


    • People have been laughing at that idea but it really does make a ton of sense. The market doesn’t just stop being the market when you tear something down. If that were the case, the idea of downtown hotel would have been over years ago.

      • R & R, with all due respect, how does building a smaller arena make a “ton of sense”? You go as far as mentioning the “market”, insinuating your knowledge of the market. Please share said market knowledge and all of your positive sales points on the benefits to the smaller arena. I’ll be glad to jump on the band wagon with you.

        • Is this a serious question or are you just trying to mock me?

          If you’re serious I’ll explain it when I get home in a few hours. That’s a question that requires a response longer than my phone can type.

          I understand this as well. What I am advocating for is a smaller limited complimentary facility to the fc, not a replacement facility. There’s a world of difference there.

          • No sir, I am not mocking you. I assumed that you meant a smaller, limited, complimentary facility and I am interested in your response. I just don’t see it. One heads-up though; if your response is no more truthful than your previous self-serving post where you stated that the (3) NBA arenas built in the ’80’s were already demolished, than save your keyboard. You remember it; blatantly false from the first key stroke………….

          • Ah, and here I thought you were serious and not just wasting time being you. We’ve already been over this NBA arenas thing yet here you are making an ass out of yourself on something that I’ve explained to you more times than winnecke has loaned earthcare dollars. Not to mention the fact that you don’t even realize how stupid you look trying to argue something that pointless.

            I can see why your whole side has now gone behind screen names.

          • I truly am serious, but I would like for you to come clean on your past indiscretion. But, maybe you are just not made that way. Not surprising. Not too many people “man up” to things now a days. How I digress; what is your definition of compatible facilities and how would EVV benefit from such a situation? Seems like we would have TWO facilities with attendance problems, TWO facilities with set monthly expenses just to keep the doors open? Taken your knowledge, please explain the current market and how the market would be improved by a smaller “compatible” facility, and not having a negative effect on the FC. Where would it be built?(we can’t ruin Winnie’s dog park, LOL)The Elite Eight attendance @ the FC was rather embarrassing.

          • Well, first you have to set some parameters of understanding before you can begin…

            1. The Ford Center is in no way struggling. It has hit all of its projections and then some. No, if you count the bonds it doesn’t profit but direct profit isn’t the goal. The goal is to have a facility that can offset its yearly expenses which it does for the most part albeit with a few accounting tricks. It was projected to lose much more than it has. As the Icemen get better and the concerts are better recruited, it will increase revenue not lose or stay idle. The loss on bonds is negated by growth of the TIF in theory which is why I am very strongly against boxing the arena in with the IUMS.

            2. Yes, both the GLVC Tournament and the Elite Eight looked horrible in the Ford Center, but they pulled in about what they were expecting to pull in. Neither the arena nor the tournaments were the problem. The tournaments in that size of an arena is the problem. Those tournaments in a mid-sized arena would damn near cover most of its annual expenses in two events (same with trade shows).

            3. The Ford Center is booked quite heavily. It’s not struggling for events. Venuworks told me themselves any date that opened up they could fill with the greatest of ease and then some. Not having these tournaments in the FC would just open up dates for bigger events already wanting in, not to mention the Icemen need better dates and need to be playing in town when these events bring in tourists.

            4. UE Basketball IS struggling. Never in their entire basketball program history have they dropped this low in attendance. And they can come up with excuse after excuse but the truth is most of their season ticket holders are now farther away from their arena as well as their students although student support has waned for years. Worst of all is the fact that the Ford Center isn’t theirs, they just lease it. They could control all revenue from both of their basketball teams and host multiple volleyball tournaments for their program (this would pull in similar figures to the basketball tournaments and ball field tournaments) at the same time if they had a proper sized arena near their campus. That is the solution to building their program.

            5. Saying we would have two struggling arenas because we currently have one is not accurate. A mid-sized arena is comparable to the Ford Center in the sense that they are both arenas and that’s about it. It’s like saying PAC would struggle. A mid-sized arena would house trade shows, volleyball games/tournaments, high school and college basketball games/tournaments, BMX events, small concerts, minor league sports that aren’t established like hockey, etc, etc just to name a few. Our tournament profile would dwarf what we are doing now (See Sioux Falls). A mid-sized arena would have very low overhead unlike the FC or any other premier arena. Hell, Roberts only cost < $600 a day when it was mothballed even with the water pumps. I can't confirm it, but someone told me it takes about ten grand a day to run the FC although I would say that estimate should be cut in half to five grand.

            6. Arenas don't/can't compete. When an entertainer approaches an arena operator about an event, they look at the portfolio of facilities. They then only make a selection if one fits what they are looking for. You wouldn't pick a $1,000,000 house out of a homes for sale magazine even if it were offered to you.

            7. Minor league sports have NOT failed in this city. The Bluecats lost more games than I thought was possible and still pulled in 2,100 and 2,600 fans a game in their lowest seasons. That would be over half of a mid-sized arena's capacity. What did the Bluecats in was the same thing that did the Boat Show in- their lease. Indoor football, trade shows, and small concerts like the ones Connie Robinson referred to a few years ago DO have a market here as they always have, they just need a venue they can afford. The Ford Center is astronomically out of their range.

            8. Most importantly, a premier/mid-sized arena alignment has worked in markets this size and much, much smaller multiple times. Grand Forks, North Dakota is one, Duluth, Minnesota is another. Savannah, Ga (slightly bigger) and Sioux Falls, SD are others. Some of those cities aren't fortunate to have a Div I and Div II quality basketball teams yet still have two or more facilities.

            I use Sioux Falls as my test case the most because it is basically Evansville if Evansville was doing the right things. It is fairly close to several large cities like Minny and Omaha. It was smaller than Evansville in terms of city population until the early 2000s yet it's metro area is still not close to Evansville.

            But with all of that, Sioux Falls has one of the healthiest images in the country, is building a new 12,000 seat arena, is keeping their old arena, and building a pentagon/field house to host the Elite Eight. And it's because they have this campus…


            9. A study has already been done on an indoor water park resort. I want to say it was done by Hotel Leisure Advisors (don't quote me on that). The only thing holding it back was finding an investor.

            10. We desperately need a new natatorium and UE needs a new swim facility. Initially price estimates were $5 million. If we tear down Hartke Pool, I'd say $10 million total.

            Given all of the above info we need to set our priorities and build in phases…

            PHASE ONE: Mend fences with Dunn Hospitality. Work with them (or someone else if they balk) on constructing an indoor water park resort hotel on the current Hartke Pool lot. Attach the new UE natatorium next to it so that when it hosts swim meets and tournaments the hotel benefits. I measured the one in French Lick and there should be ample room on the lot for the two.

            Phase Two: Figure out how to bring back UE Football. Forget FBS ($55-60 mil budget), a FCS team will work (if SIU in Carbondale can build a 15,000 seat stadium for $25.3 million in podunk Carbondale, UE should be able to raise the funds from the community as well. It does take $14-16 mil a year to run a football team so this must be done over a several year process.

            Phase 3: Raise funds for UE to have a mid-sized arena that will also host all of the events I mentioned above. This would also benefit the Dunn Hotel. (Other arenas this size range from $40-50 mil).

            So far we're up to about $70-80 mil for everything. SIU raised $83 million in their "Saluki Way Project". Their endowments are $103 mil, UE's are $81 mil so we would have to build our facilities slower but it's still manageable if the city would quit wasting money on ball fields and dog parks. If you give it a 20-25 year completion window, it's very doable.

            SIDE PHASE: Work with organizations like Deaconess, St. Mary's and the Welborn Baptist Foundation to build a Sanford Fieldhouse like exercise facility next to Swonder. Look at Sioux Falls amenities and you'll see why they are healthy, it's because they made it a priority with their facilities. Expanding Swonder would put all of our recreational amenities in one area.

            Overall, a mid-sized arena has plenty of market potential here. We've seen it with previous events, current events that don't belong in the Ford Center, and potential events like high school basketball tournaments.

            But it only works on the Roberts Stadium lot IF we build a complex like a puzzle and we are patient with it. We also need to mend fences so that everyone is working on the same goal. But at the same time, we also need our town rich to ante up in similar amounts as people in other cities have donated. This town goes nowhere until the local elites start pitching in.

            I doubt I have convinced you to change your view, but the truth is, is that we could very easily be like Sioux Falls, SD. The only thing holding us back is political corruption and our can't do attitude. And that's something I would put my hand on the bible and tell you I believe.

  1. A friend of mine, Matt Hanka, just posted a photo in Facebook of the first basket scored. The place looks packed to me.

    • Place is not packed but it is way better than yesterday’s crowd. My guess looking around is 2,500 or so. No one on the top rim. I don’t even think it is open. Reasonable crowd on the sides in the middle but only a few in the ends. It is some good basketball though.

  2. I was surprised to hear this tournament is only coming back one more time. I thought it was here til Souix Falls took over. But wedged in between there is a stop in Frisco, Texas in Dr.Pepper Arena, which seats only 5,000 ironically.

  3. I don’t think you can blame the Ford Center for the attendance. Blame the fact no one cares about D2 sports.

  4. Better teams playing than the Aces. Why doesn’t Stanley attend and see what a winner looks like and hire Crutchfield or the Mules head coach and get rid of that loser. .400 win pct they have now.

  5. Why do all of your sentences end in question marks? Also, you need help on resizing photos (which I’m guessing you didn’t take yourself).

  6. Jason, welcome to the CCO site. If you can get by your question mark concerns you may learn a lot about the misgivings of local government.

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