My wife is fond of saying — perhaps with too great of frequency — if she could “just shake out much of what lurks or disguises itself as brain matter in my head,” then I could perhaps remember where my phone or car keys are. That I still remember Bebe Rebozo from the Nixon administration does astonish her — but not in a good way. That bit of diatribe is how I am going to excuse myself as to passing off a bit of clutter to you, the unfortunate reader of this column. So, in the immortal words of “The Great One” Jackie Gleason, “And away we go!”
Let’s start with something noncontroversial that we can all agree on: the arena. We can’t agree? Let’s talk about it anyway. I might not always agree with Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, but I really admire the mayor’s leadership position on what he knew to be a hot-button issue. I have driven by the new KFC Yum! Center (that name is just…unfortunate) in Louisville, Ky., at least 10 times now, and our yet-to-be-named arena — at about half the seats and half the cost — is definitely more appealing architecturally and visually, although the KFC Yum! Center proudly overlooking the Ohio River is certainly very nice in its own right. Economic, government, tourism, and private sector leaders ALL make sure that our arena is on any tour or mention of our city. Make no mistake about it. The arena makes a significant contribution now, even prior to completion.
I am confident that when we all are standing in the new arena concourse next fall, we will be applauding the mayor for his vision. If you disagree, please take a tour of Roberts Stadium, which is simply looking tired and depressed. I would welcome your thoughts or comments to this magazine if you feel otherwise, and I have yet to hear any naysayers’ “big idea” with what to do with Roberts Stadium that makes really good sense.
Anyone who has not ventured west in recent memory and seen the University of Southern Indiana campus would have to stand in awe (yes, awe) at what has transpired from a landscape and building perspective. Entering on the new University Parkway to the beautiful new fountain donated by the Robert M. Kent family (thanks!) at the start of the roundabout is a very important clue to the experience. The recently completed quadrangle with expansive green space and a new business and engineering building is just downright impressive. With its conical shape, the University Center renovation underway is a beautiful, new landmark to our city. New walking trails and other numerous enhancements make a major statement that USI is not what you remember even if you visited as recently as two years ago. Well done, Ray Hoops and Linda Bennett!
I am at a loss to explain the personal attacks of many officials and community leaders, which seem to be getting nastier by the month. I thought name-calling was something we all should have learned was “not polite” by the time first grade was over. I don’t agree with many thoughts, ideas, or processes either, but I sincerely do appreciate those who give their time and effort to make our fair city a better place to live. We need to do a better job of looking for ways to say, “Yes, we can,” instead of sometimes being a community of “No.” And if you’re a name caller, involve yourself in the process.
I wish everyone a terrific holiday season and thank everyone for supporting our publications. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker