Thursday, October 11, 2007

TIF Commission reschedules Bannister Mall

The TIF Commission of Kansas City has decided to hold a special meeting on Wednesday Nov. 7 to review the $943 million redevelopment proposal for Bannister Mall and surrounding area. My understanding is this does include what remains of Benjamin Stables. Aaron March, a lawyer with White Goss Bowers March Schulte & Weisenfels PC who is representing Three Trails Redevelopment LLC asked the commission to hear its request a week before the next regular TIF meeting. Aaron March said the earlier date would let the Kansas City Council consider the commission's recommendation this year. Waiting another week probably would have pushed the council's consideration into January.

Out of the $943M Bannister Mall plan, $55.5 million in TIF has been requested covering roughly six percent of the anticipated budget. Reportedly, this is the largest plan to come before the commission since the Kansas City Council passed the new incentives and economic development policy in August that Mayor Funkhouser pressed for. This policy was changed as a result of the former city auditor’s publicly stated view that the commission was too lax in administering incentives.

Hell I wish I knew how much the stadium they have planned will cost. $943M WOW. Do you think the Stadium will cost $55M? Do you really think that OnGoal and the developer want the city to pay for the stadium? Get real. More than likely the $55M will be used to tear down the buildings, rearrange the infrastructure, redeveloped the utilities and possibly pay for environmental impact studies. What I am saying is that the $55M TIF will be used to clean the place up, and make it consumer friendly. I doubt they would move the new Fire station.

That leaves approximately $886.5M coming out of the pockets of the redeveloper and the Kansas City Wizards for a kick butt Stadium hosting men’s and women’s soccer and some youth fields. Keep dreaming. Maybe $50M of the $886.5M would go to stadium and youth field development, but I doubt it. That leaves a lot of cash to develop a currently large expanse of wasted land. With what you ask? With office space, retail shops, and of course great restaurants. Sorry Mr. Woody Woodruff that does mean jobs for the local community. I know you hated hearing that, but a job is a job.

You out there. Yes you. If you live in Kansas City proper start writing your councilmen and women. Let them know you support redeveloping Bannister Mall. Show up at the TIF meeting and be seen and heard. You can make a difference. If you are like me and live outside Kansas City ask your co-workers and friends to write their council member as well as the TIF Commission appointees like Claudia OƱate Greim, and Margaret May. Here is your chance to be heard and make a difference.

Please be a part of the solution.
This has been,
Baines Breath

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wizards Employee May Not Support First Amendment Right.

Sam has posted comments for all to enjoy. So if I may I shall reply to his comments.

As all can see, Sam your first amendment right exists on this Blog. I have not and will not alter your comment in any way. If you would like to have a page to state your observations feel free to e-mail Baines Breath. It will get published. After all this is a collective.

As for Anonymous blogging, I as well as others, have posted on BS for years feeling we have to hold back at times. Granted Sam you have no ability in BS to moderate us, yet it has been stated in conversation that some have received calls, email and AIMs from you requesting we delete posts. Why? Did those posts get your goat, jeopardize your future position with the Wizards, or was/is the front office not able to handle criticism. I think it is not the latter of choices.

I know this is not rubbish. You Sam have done that. Tuesday you called Baines Finicky Liver and told him he was wrong and needed to correct his statement. This is a fundamental problem driving those pressured by you to join the collective. Do not think of it as a Blog but as an open forum for all to read. You do not need to be a member. You do not need to worry about personal attack. You cannot be called an idiot here. (I delete name-calling) Just e-mail something to Baines Breath and voila it is published. Yes it’s open to all. The best thing about this Blog, come closer…no… closer, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ IT.
Now, I bid you, good day Sir.

Why did I start this Blog?
It’s a not a secret that OnGoal has some unhappy fans. I started it to say out loud what your fans say behind your back. You see some may say they speak their mind but they really don’t because they might get a phone call, AIM or e-mail from the great and powerful Sam asking for them to play nicey nice. When someone says something to the front office directly they receive the pat answer, “be patient, we plan to announce something in two or three weeks. ” Rather than submitting their thoughts to the Wizards only to hear the same mantra, some choose to keep it to themselves or share it with me. This gives me fodder for blogging. Thank you for your mafia style censorship.

Does my, Joe Baines, opinion matter?
Every person’s opinion matters. That is why the collective is here. Please in the future do not pressure someone to make an addendum to their Blog, just write something yourself and state your opinion.

Is there an Emotion Quotient test I can take to measure my commitment to the Cauldron and the Wizards?
Sure. Just e-mail Sam Pierron with the Wizards and he can provide you with the test.

In closing. As for your statement, “Just trying to help, because nobody has more emotionally invested in the success of the section as I do.” I personally know of at least 25 Cauldronites and Big Soccer posters who also step up every time the Wizards and Heart of America Soccer Foundation ask them. They spend their own money and ask relatives for favors to get things done so our section looks good on camera. Have you stepped up this season and offered to pay for the 50 new flags? All the new Banners? These are the same volunteers that are/were at every game under our new ownership and while ownerless, putting the club before themselves. They have just as much emotionally invested in this section as you do.

Again, thank you Sam for all you have done.
I would also like to thank those that have bought celebration materials, beer, and food and donated their precious time to the section.

This has been,
Baines Breath

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lost In Translation

When you write 3,000 words on a topic that you have a 1,000-word limiton, sometimes the original meaning isn't going to come through clearlyin the wash. Especially when discussing a topic that generates such passion.

After re-reading yesterday's missive, there seems to be a disconnect between the meaning of "nothing" in my head and the meaning of"nothing" as it may be interpreted from the final product on the page.

I suppose that it's more important to look at the context. When Mr.Maday asked that question, I interpreted it as "What large scale, proactive and tangible things has OnGoal done to help the Cauldron grow?" (Yeah, I managed to parse all of that out in the half-second Ihad before answering...)

So many of the things that the Cauldron has done throughout the years have been of our own accord and in spite of the previous ownership group. Aside from the openness and willingness of OnGoal to accommodate us, the initiation has remained largely unchanged this year. From the scarves that we've done, the Man Of The Match scarves that are presented to the Wizards players, the t-shirts that you see on our members, the flags that hang from the railing in front of our section and flying in our section during the game, and the intricate tailgate (which is open to the public, by the way... Don't be scared, we don't bite.) put on before each game, all of that has come to fruition through the sweat and hard work - and in some cases considerable financial outlays - of the denizens of the Cauldron.

I certainly didn't mean to slight the many things that OnGoal has doneto help grow the Cauldron throughout the 2007 season. From the increased and improved marketing of the Wizards and the Cauldron experience to a college-age audience to the efforts to broker a deal for an appropriate level of self-policing in the Cauldron to their assistance with the flags that have recently made an appearance,OnGoal has indeed done considerably more than "nothing."Has the Cauldron received help from OnGoal? Yes, definitely... We couldn't have done some of the things that we have done without their help. We asked and were certainly pleased with the help that the newownership group has provided. And there are some things that theyhave done that we haven't taken full advantage of.

Do we appreciate it? Cautiously, I'll say that we appreciate it more than the people who are providing the help know. (Yes, we're a bitgun shy. After the missteps this year and several years of conditioning to expect the worst, it's only understandable.)The interest is there. The efforts have started. But if I were asked the question again, I still don't think I'd change my answer, and I hope you understand why.

This has been (again)
Baines Finicky Liver

Kudos to Mr. Maday of OnGoal, LLC.

Lest the complaints be thrown around that the Baines Thought Collective is just a bunch of negativists, here are some kudos for OnGoal, LLC.

On Friday, Greg Cotton stopped by the tailgate with an odd gift for the Cauldron – 80 bottles of Kansas City’s finest barley pop (Boulevard) – inspiring comparisons to Steve Pastorino (Real Salt Lake) and Stan Kroenke (Colorado Rapids), both of whom have made a regular effort to contribute to the respective supporters groups, as well as Peter Wilt, a man whose dedication to the fans is legendary within MLS circles. As anyone who has been around the Cauldron in any fashion can tell you, we always enjoy a good beer (or several) before a game. Marcelo Balboa can even attest to the fine beer tastes of the Cauldron, as he enjoyed an Irish Car Bomb with us at the US-Mexico World Cup Qualifier over Labor Day weekend 2005. Not surprisingly, Mr. Cotton’s gift was well received.
But what was more intriguing was a discussion that Greg Maday had with some of the gentlemen who are behind the tailgate itself. After sampling the fine array of smoked goods offered up and proclaiming it better than anything he’d tasted at the American Royal (you know, the big assembly of the “best” competitive BBQ teams in the country held in Kansas City every year), Mr. Maday asked what the front office had done to help the Cauldron.
The reply – nothing – surprised him. True, the reply wasn’t entirely accurate by the letter; the Front Office stepped in to make arrangements for a traveling group of fans to stay at the team’s rate in the team hotel in the Wizards’ visit to the Dick (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park) to play Colorado, and coordinated a bus to transport fans to the game and back in Chicago in more recent memory.
He questioned why. The answer is that we have never asked. After several requests and years of abysmal treatment by the previous ownership group, the Cauldron had learned its lesson. We have had to grow on our own, often fighting Hunt Sports Group and Curt Johnson tooth and nail for every little concession.
What impressed me most about the conversation with Mr. Maday was his sincerity as he said that there has to be something the Front Office can do to help. While there have certainly been some stumbles this season on both sides, the increase in atmosphere and sheer numbers of folks exhibiting real passion for the Wizards has been evident.
Sure, the many season ticket holders who purchased season tickets under the promise (later broken) that the Wizards would be a) playing games in a smaller, temporary venue; and b) wouldn’t be offering any random ticket discounts ala the oft-abused “Zard Card” of years past have a legitimate complaint, one still needing to be made whole and not necessarily by the opportunity to spend more money with the team.
No, the sincerity of Mr. Maday’s conviction that OnGoal can do something to help those who have supported and inspired this team with passion and vigor, traveling hundreds of miles to away games and standing throughout the entire 90 minutes of each home game to lend voice and desire to the men on the pitch, was impressive. Not just because he was out there – Curt Johnson used to come out to one tailgate a year and allow the fans to ask him any question – but because he was earnest and sincere about wanting to support those fans who have given so much in support of this team.
And it’s not just Mr. Maday that has shown that belief either. Neal Patterson and his wife have visited many a Cauldron tailgate, even going so far as to pump the keg for one of the traveling fans in Denver, and Robb Heinemann sported a Wizards away kit with “Cauldron” and the number 1 on the back at Friday’s match.
Whether these sincere promises become fulfilled or leaves us longing for the days of the Hunt Sports Group – where we knew that we were going to be shat upon, but it didn’t cost as much – remains to be seen. On the whole, however, it is encouraging. It is a sign that we finally have an ownership group who “gets it” about soccer.

There are missteps and problems that will need to be worked out as we both grow, but this ownership group finally seems to realize that taking care of your best customers – the ones who are addicted to your product – will have marked benefits in the long run in attracting additional customers. To put it simply, it’s easier (and cheaper) to take care of your existing customer base than it is to generate new customers, and much easier than to win back old customers.
To co-opt a line from a movie, if you build an atmosphere at a soccer game that rivals the atmosphere at a Chiefs game, people will come. You can’t build that atmosphere with corporate suits and soccer moms. That is not to say that the soccer moms, corporate suits and plastic eurosnob scenesters of the Kansas City metro – that made an abundant showing at the LA Galaxy game (you know, the one allegedly set to feature a certain England midfielder) don’t have a place in the success of the Wizards, as they’ve all ponied up and purchased tickets, but they’re not as profitable to the bottom line as the long term season ticket holders and the Cauldron.

So in closing, allow this collective to express a sincere, generous but cautious thank you to OnGoal, LLC. If your actions speak as loud as your words, there is a great deal of potential as we move forward.

This has been,
Baines’ finicky liver.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tax Increment Financing Commission

It has been brought to my attention by a friend that works for one of the redevelopment firms here in Kansas City that some interesting things might be happening at the October 10 Tax Increment Financing Commission meeting at 9:00 am.


Tax Increment Financing Commission
Board Meeting Package
City of Kansas City, Missouri

DATE: October 10, 2007
TIME: 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: Economic Development Corporation Board Room, 4th Floor
1100 Walnut, Suite 1700
Kansas City, Missouri

1. Roll Call.

2. Consideration of approval of Minutes. (Jessica Middleton)

3. Finance: Consideration of Financial Report, and other matters related thereto. (Stefany Williams) Exhibit 3

Public Hearing – 9:30 a.m.

4. 1200 Main/South Loop TIF Plan – Seventh Amendment: Consideration of approval of the Seventh Amendment of the 1200 Main/South Loop TIF Plan, and other matters related thereto. (Missy Wilson) Exhibit 4

Public Hearing – 10:00 a.m.

5. 43rd & Main TIF Plan – Fifth Amendment: Consideration of approval of the Fifth Amendment of the 43rd & Main TIF Plan, and other matters related thereto. (Jenna Wilkinson) Exhibit 5

Public Hearing – 10:30 a.m.

6. Three Trails TIF Plan – Second Amendment: Consideration of approval of the Second Amendment of the Three Trails TIF Plan, and other matters related thereto. (Steve Rinne) Exhibit 6

Public Hearing – 11:00 a.m.

7. West Edge TIF Plan – Second Amendment: Consideration of approval of the Second Amendment of the West Edge TIF Plan, and other matters related thereto. (Drew Kloeppel) Exhibit 7

Nothing out of the ordinary so far.

A friend involved with the EDC was gathering some information on the meeting and learned that Mayor Funkhouser has asked for time to speak at the meeting. Should this be that shocking? I hope not, after all he's for "special" TIF projects today and against other TIF projects tomorrow. I hope the developers and On Goal LLC/Wizards have made sure they padded their proposal for the Three Trails TIF Plan. It would be nice to see one sport franchise assist the community instead of raping them like the old guard sports franchises do.

Also some members of the Commission wanted to postpone the meeting to be its own. Is this a ploy for they believe that the Three Trails TIF Plan as it's been proposed will not succeed. We won't know until the 10th. After all how many times have they tabled the Three Trails TIF Plan so far?

Pray for a positive conclusion.

This has been,
Baines Breath.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Season Tickets

I’ve been hearing rumors lately that you can call the Wizards offices to put down your deposit for 2008 Wizards season tickets. Call me crazy, but don’t you need to have a venue to play in before you should start doing that? Last year I had trusted in blind fate that the team would have somewhere for the team to play this year, so I had no problem throwing down my $50 deposit. Maybe it was the newness of having new ownership, or the fact that they were doing it while the season was still going on, instead of in January, like the previous ownership.

Not any more. My season tickets will not be renewed until I have seen a confirmed release on where the team will be playing next year. From listening to the radio and reading blogs, it had sounded like an announcement was suppose to come around the time of the Beckham game, so that the team could capitalize on that. Well, here we are going on two weeks since that game and still no announcement on where the team will be playing.

I’d also heard from Greg Cotton in a radio interview that he had stated that they hoped to have the permanent site announced as well. This is a little more excusable, as the whole process is currently out of their hands, waiting for the KC TIF council to decide on whether the Wizards and Lane4’s plan for the former Bannister Mall location is worth the TIF that they are asking for.

My point still remains, though; I will not be sending the Wizards any money towards the 2008 season until I have seen where the team is playing next year. I’d like to close by thanking Baine for the opportunity to post here in his collective.

This has been,
Baines right leg