Saturday, June 15, 2024

Wouldn't it be nice if the process for safety improvements was as simple as the process for street maintenance?

Here's the project timeline for Bloomington, IN's Indiana Avenue Safety Improvements:

  1. Informational Neighborhood Letter
    Note: Letters mailed to businesses and residents within 300ft of the project area
  2. First Public Meeting: Project Scope and Objectives - Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30pm at the Sample Gates
  3. Second Public Meeting: Preliminary Design Review and Feedback - Tuesday, July 16 at 5:30pm
    Note: Rain Date is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17 at 5:30pm
  4. Third Public Meeting: Further Design Review and Feedback - Tuesday, August 13 at 5:30pm
    Note: Rain Date is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14 at 5:30pm
  5. Project Scope and Objectives Survey Period: Open until noon on Friday, June 28th.
  6. Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission Review: Fall, 2024
  7. Traffic Commission Review: Fall, 2024
  8. Installation: Spring - Summer, 2025

Here's the project timeline for W 3rd Street Maintenance Project (Franklin to Patterson)

  1. Bids to go out June 24, 2024
  2. Bid awarded at the end of July 2024
  3. Construction will start in 2024 on portions of this project.

Wouldn't it be nice if the process for safety improvements was as simple as the process for street maintenance?

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Soccer in Indianapolis: Is it for the fans or the owners?

James Briggs: "An MLS team would be good for Indianapolis. Ozdemir was not the right person to lead that effort, so the city is moving on. It's harsh, yes, but real estate development is a grownup business. No one should be weeping for Ozdemir.”


Gregg Doyel: “The city of Indianapolis considers letting this golden opportunity we call Major League Soccer — MLS, going forward — slip away.”


Here’s the thing: from a provincial, myopic point of view, Doyel and Briggs are exactly right. It’s a win-win situation: take some rich clown with some working capital to use, hand him several million dollars of taxpayer money to build a new stadium, and everyone gets something they want. The rich clown wins because he gets to join the MLS gravy train and start raking in money hand over fist; Indianapolis government wins because they get to say they were instrumental in bringing MLS to Indy, and citizens, if they care at all, win because they get to feel good about living in a “Major League Soccer Town”.

But most of all, Major League Soccer wins. The overriding factor that defines major league sports in the USA is that they have an absolute monopoly on the talent that exists in that sport. This is how they assure that the fans are watching their games and not the games of smaller leagues. Major League Baseball, for example, has their farm system where the teams own a series of lower-level teams, and any talent the proves itself is immediately, usually in the middle of the season, plucked from those teams and put in the majors. The NFL and NBA have a similar thing going where second-tier and rising talent are forced to pretend to be college students for a few years while they hone their craft in preparation for the big time.

But Major League Soccer doesn’t quite have that monopoly. There’s a second-tier league, the United Soccer League, that consists of teams that are not beholden to the majors, and those teams have the chance to accrue talent and become competitive without any buy-in from the big-league owners. The owners hate that. The USL also represents the major league owners’ worst nightmare: European style promotion/relegation. If you’ve gone to the trouble to get into the MLS monopoly, jumping on the gravy train, getting a city to give you taxpayer millions, the last thing you want to do is suddenly find yourself in a second-tier league just because you’re losing. That is not what having a monopoly is all about! This is why owners were so excited about the European Super League, a monopoly league of top-tier soccer teams making easy money with no chance of being relegated to a lower league no matter how much they lose.

So, the owners are going to do everything they can to get rid of these independent USL teams. For example, they’ve set up a farm team system like MLB. There were several farm teams that used to play in the USL, but, finding that league too competitive, the owners created a brand new one, MLS Next, to make sure their players were focused on getting to the major leagues and not unimportant things like winning championships.

The other thing MLS can do to destroy the USL is to employ a “If you can’t beat them, let them join you” strategy. It’s easy enough to see which teams are popular and successful in the USL, and MLS is happy to court those cities by dangling the “Major League” label in front of them. So they’ll consider “expansion” in cities like Sacramento, Detroit, or Indianapolis, including them in their Major League Monopoly in exchange for keeping them out of this upstart, uncontrollable second-tier league. This is a perfectly acceptable solution from the MLS point of view – a win-win, one might say. The owners make significant inroads in getting rid of the USL; the expansion cities get that warm glow of calling themselves Major League, some rich clown gets added to the big-league gravy train, and the new stadiums will probably have fancy new luxury boxes where the politicians can entertain their buddies.

It’s not so great for the fans, of course. MLS teams mean jacked-up ticket prices that might well be out of the reach of any but the wealthiest, and the fans of any smaller teams don’t get the dream that if their team plays well enough, they might get to compete with the big boys someday. (Ever wonder why no one’s pushing for an Indianapolis Major Leage Baseball team? That monopoly is solid, no chance). But MLS has never been about the fans. The MLS is about harnessing the fans’ love for soccer to make money. Indianapolis is at a crossroads: attempt to join the MLS gravy train for some rich clown and his politician friends? Or go with the USL and the team the small-dollar fans have been supporting for years? Put like that, I suppose there isn’t really any question about which way this is going to go.