The Great Arenas War

January16/ 2000

BobLee was on WPTF on Thursday discussing the Hurricanes.  A Wuffie caller tried to sucker punch Swagger as regards “Skippa & The Dean Dome Deal” … yawn! ..I’ve handled that worn out old debate so often it was like squashing a bug. ..I did realize that we have never officially beat that particular dead horse on Ye Olde Website. ..Let’s have some fun with it.

    Let’s set the scene first … The Great Arenas War involves how The Dean Dome and The ESA/RBC Center were financed respectively. There are three distinct populations to consider when framing such a debate.

(1)     The Heeloid Loonies … with their pompous arrogance that whatever they do is right, proper and God’s Will because … well because they are “God’s Chosen People”, silly!

(2)     The Wuff Loonies … with their terminal paranoia that every decision made by mankind since the invention of fire was purposely intended to short change them and forever subjugate them under the boot heel of their sister institution in Orange County.

(3)     The remaining 99% of the world’s population who don’t give a rat’s rump about whatever nits the two above groups are picking at each other about.

    Use this visual as we discuss this issue … picture two 8 years old boys (one in Red, the other in Lt Blue) both with acute ADD, standing on a tree stump and seeing who can pee the furthest.  The little boy in Red is crying that it is “unfair” because he has to pee into the wind because some rich and powerful Tar Heel controls the way the wind blows.  

NOTE: In any debate of this magnitude both Wuffies and Heeloids agree in advance to not even consider using “facts” in their arsenals.  Both sides agree to rely totally on ridiculous hyperbole and yelling to make their silly arguments.

    Return with us now to those halcyon days of yore … the early 80s.  The annual success of Dean Smith’s UNC BB program had definitely outgrown dear and wonderful Carmicheal Auditorium – an incredible venue for exciting BB and a decided home court advantage. 9,000 wild and crazy Tar Heels ringed the court.  The Univ 0f Kentucky had just built a 20,000 seat Rupp Arena … BYU also had a 20,000 seat arena compliments of the Marriott family.  Those were the only “mega” arenas in the NCAA.  It seemed only right that Carolina join that elite group.

    Erskine Bowles’ daddy, Skippa, answered his Alma Mater’s call to head the fund raising drive to build Carolina a “great big building”.  Skippa had a rolodex bulging with Fat Cat acquainti and he was blessed with a very persuasive manner. What he, nor anyone else, did NOT have was any model to use on how to finance one of these monumental temples for partisan fan excess.  When you blaze a trail you have no trail to follow.  You base everything you do on “best guesses” and suppositions.  You also frame everything in best case scenarios.  You politely dismiss any “but what if” questions that do not fit your sales pitch.

    Skippa and his “Let’s build a great big arena” committee made two key decisions using, again, the “best case scenario” game plan.

(1) Any private citizen donating significant bucks to help build the “great big arena” (GBA) would be granted eternal rights to purchase primo lower level seats in the GBA.  “Eternal” was defined as “until Dean Smith kisses Jesse Helms on the mouth”.   They sorta kinda forgot that a key component in why Carmicheal was such a neat “Home Court” was that crazy uninhibited students filled the bleachers along one side of the court.  Skippa’s committee musta figured a bunch of 60 year old lawyers, physicians, accountants, and faculty squirrels and their sweater knittin’ wimmen would make as much of a racket as 5,000 crazy uninhibited 18 years old students. YIKES!

(2) Skippa raised enough cash to build the GBA but how was the University going to cover the operating costs?  No problem … have bunches of concerts, tractor pulls, Amway rallies, Sesame Street Live, and Wrestling matches that would all sell-out probably … and there would be plenty of $$$ coming in to buy light bulbs, toilet paper, and keep Dean’s bust in the lobby all shiny.  Not that it would EVER be necessary but just in case, The NC General Assembly said it would cover any operational/maintenance shortfalls … not that it would ever be necessary, of course.  So Skippa’s Great Big Arena got built … the snoots and their first wives, or trophy wives, filled the lower level and the boys on Jones Street in Raleigh went back to getting free meals at The Angus Barn and 42nd St Oyster House.

    Alas and alack … no soon had Skippa’s Grand Plan gone into effect than those sneaky fellows in Greensboro decided to enlarge their arena to Great Big size … more sneaky guys in Charlotte did the same … and even the Rolly crowd built themselves an outdoor amphitheater … Good By concerts, tractor pulls, Amway rallies, Sesame Street Live, and Wrestling matches in The Dean Dome … and Hello Annual Shortfall.

   Did Skippa and his Fat Cat brain thrust outfox the Jones Street Boys?  Did they know from the get-go that their monumental temple to partisan fan excess would never be anywhere near self-sufficient? I don’t know. Skipper Bowles passed away as the GBA was being completed.  Heel loonies think it’s only right and proper that the taxpayers of North Carolina pay $1,000,000/year to keep Dean’s bust all shiny … after all Charles Kuralt and Choo Choo Justice went to college at UNC.  Wuffie Loonies tend to view the expenditures a bit differently.  

   Meanwhile during the 80s the Wuffies were in a heckuva mess themselves.  The euphoria of a  National Championship in 1983 quickly faded with what is referred to by Wolfpack historians as “the vicious and totally unprovoked hatchet job done on Jim Valvano by The News & Observer and unnamed UNC big wigs behind the scenes”. The “Old South” recovered from The War of Northern Aggression easier than the WuffNation rebounded from “the Valvano Hatchet job”.  

   Using Larry Monteith as a carpet bagging scallywag, “UNC big wigs behind the scenes”  managed to reduce NC State basketball to NCHSAA 2-A level … putting it on par with Angier, Faison, and Siler City. Les Robinson was given one ball, an old whistle, and specific orders not to recruit anyone over 5’9” who could execute three consecutive dribbles.  Meanwhile God’s Chosen People frolicked in their taxpayer subsidized temple to partisan fan excess.  Wuffies who are constipated and angst-ridden by nature felt like the Nez Perce Indians after Wounded Knee … they got a tad more resentful than usual … go figure.

   Enter a carpet bagging flimflammer named Karmanos, a Texas chemist named Mary Ann and mix’em in with some Rolly area Wuffie loyalists named Stroud, Murphy, York, etc.  First thing ya know a monumental temple to partisan fan excess rose out of the ground across from Governor For Life Jim Hunt’s Horse Barn on Trinity Road.  Yes, it was constructed using Wake County taxpayer dollars.  Yes, unlike Skippa’s building, it actually does host bunches of events totally unrelated to NC State Athletics.  Yes, Rolly and The Triangle area and Downeast needed such a state-of-the-art facility or we would never have gotten Britney Spears, Yanni, and The Royal Lippizan Stallions to this area.  

   The “economic impact” of Yanni alone to this region is incalculable.  But we will say $400,000,000 because that sounds like a lot of money.  If Yanni had ridden a Royal Lippizan Stallion while singing the Star Spangled Banner at the CIAA Tournament it woulda probably been worth a gazillion dollars and Mayor Charlie Meeker could have built a bullet train from Wendell to Apex powered by solar energy and Lippizan Stallion manure. 

   The lynch pin component to the Royal Bank of Canada’s multi-purpose event facility is the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.  The aforementioned Mr Karmanos had his crack legal staff draw up some whizbang contractual granny knot that weighs about 16 pounds and has more ways to escape than Donald Trump’s pre-nuptial.  Karmanos agrees to operate and maintain the RBC Center until such time as he decides not to; and or moves his whole operation to Winnipeg in the middle of the night. 

    ANY building that is so large that sound and light cannot travel to the farthest seat at the same time is too freakin’ big.  The top levels of both Skippa’s building and The Royal Bank of Canada’s building are too far away from the arena floor.  The Deacs’ LJVMC is the best BB building in North Carolina.

   The $1,000,000/year taxpayer subsidy for UNC’s basketball temple is ridiculous of course.  The City of Rolly and NC State are in bed with a pit viper with Karmanos and will eventually get bit of course.  

   I recommend that the Tar Heel Nation and The Wuff Nation meet at the intersection of Miami Boulvevard and I-40 and agree to blame the whole mess on Dick Baddour, Todd Turner, and Dick Vitale.

   Until then our two little morons on that tree stump are just peeing all over each other.

 Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling = High Noon’s theme song … written by Frankie Laine, sung by Tex Ritter and Lloyd Bridges played Will Kane’s deputy.

 Today’s Stumper

 Who was Jack Benny’s manservant?

 Admit it; you feel it in the air … something REALLY BIG is about to happen!

Comments & Questions

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