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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 3/28/2004

Another bout with springtime gnawing

Some items while wondering how long Donald Trump would last as a contestant on The Apprentice:

CONTENTMENT: This is the time of year that our collective indifference toward building a new arena really gnaws at me.

If only I understood why a community that takes so much pride in its top-tier attractions, such as the art museum and zoo, would be content with a 56-year-old arena.

The annual springtime gnawing can be traced to three sources:

First, we are missing out on the fun of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments. A state-of-the-art arena would be the city's ticket for occasionally hosting opening-round games, which, in turn, would raise the national profile of the University of Toledo.

Second, big-name musical acts are mapping out their summer concert tours and they will bypass Toledo. A 5,500-seat arena with no air conditioning? No thanks. Instead, we'll have to settle for past-their-prime performers like we do every year.

Third, baseball season is almost upon us. And with it comes the realization that our political leaders are running out of time to capitalize on Fifth Third Field's success. A forward-thinking city would have built an arena within walking distance of the downtown stadium by now. We can't even decide on a location.

I can't imagine anyone saying Fifth Third Field was a mistake. The Mud Hens' ballpark was financed with a combination of bonds, naming rights, suite sales, state grants and other public and private sources. It cost Lucas County taxpayers $1.5 million and, so far, has been worth every penny.

Lucas County commissioners had a can-do attitude regarding the stadium. They got the job done but, as feared, rested on their laurels. I kept waiting for the commissioners to cajole city officials into focusing on a new arena, but they never did.

It's as if their economic-development strategy for downtown was to build a baseball stadium and the rest would take care of itself. (Which reminds me of this truism for fishermen: You can have the nicest boat in the water, but the fish aren't going to jump onboard.)

If Toledo Mayor Jack Ford is serious about promoting the concept of a regional government, he first should forge a stronger alliance with the county commissioners.

With a spirit of cooperation between the city and county, an arena could be put on the front burner — which is where it should have been two decades ago.

NOW THEY CARE?: I had not heard of the term “outsourcing” until January, when my brother Larry and I discussed the future of our professions. A computer programmer, he talked about the number of jobs in his field that are being shipped to India.

Since that discussion, rarely a day goes by that I don't hear, or see, the word. Last week, USA Today ran a story about the outsourcing of jobs to India. I told him about the story, and his e-mail response gave me pause for thought.

“Years ago programmers and other white-collar types casually noticed the steady loss of blue-collar factory jobs to strange-sounding towns in strange-sounding countries. Maybe a few friends were affected, but their life and livelihood stayed the same.

“And, sad to say, they watched it with some smugness, comforted in the belief that they were immune from similar fate. But as these jobs are now the current target of outsourcing, they want everyone to cry ‘foul.' ”

I suspect I'll remember my brother's e-mail the next time I see someone picketing outside the nation's largest retailer.



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