Thursday, January 13, 2005

Jacksonville Super Bowl XXXIX Hotel Room Fiasco - Pt 2

OK. I called the office of Best Western CEO David Kong and was helped by his wonderful secretary. I also called a guy named Dan Williams who's VP of North American Hotel development.

Well, somehow, I got passed to a Best Western Customer service person who told me that Best Western had no control over what the individual hotels did. I told her I don't believe that. Any CEO who discovered that a hotel with his or her logo on it may be up to shady practices would certainly step in.

So, I called Mr. Kong's secretary back, and now I'm calling Will Jansen.

If you came into this in the middle, look at the first post on this about four posts down.

Going to the Super Bowl? Have hotel problems? Share them here.

Dan Siegel Busted For Pot Possession - Could Get Him Elected Mayor of Oakland, CA

If you click on the title, you will learn that Oakland School Board member and prominent Oakland community participant, and nice guy Dan Siegel was held by the Oakland Police after they found some weed in his bag at the Oakland Airport.

Dan handles it all well. He said, "Hey, I use it to relieve stress." I recall that Dan's running for Mayor of Oakland. I think this could get him elected. I'm serious. How many people reading this use pot for the same reasons? OK. Put all those hands down. Me? I'll take a trip to the gym or a good glass of Merlot. But, I think Dan's a candidate to consider.

If Mayor Jerry Brown slipped the pot in Dan's bag, the strategy backfired! LOL. Dan and Jerry are not the best of friends.

Oakland Athletics Lost $23 Million

In preparing the Sports Business Simulations Oakland Baseball Simworld for students to use this year, I always recalibrate the simulation to reflect the organization's fiscal pattern at the end of the previous season.

In this case, after balancing the sim, I learned something you're not going to see in the press -- yet. The A's are over $20 million in the hole, and that's a big reason why "The Big Three" pitching rotation was broken up. It's also why the owners are selling the team. In the Oakland Baseball Simworld, the A's franchise value is $172 million. That's what I believe the team's currently worth.

Try the Oakland Sim and see if you can dig the A's out of this hole. Go to and click on "SBS Free Trial" on the left. Then run the Oakland Baseball Simworld.

I'm Applying to Be On "The Apprentice"

Hey folks. I'm applying to be on "The Apprentice." This week, my friends former Mayor of Oakland and now Peralta Chancellor Elihu Harris and Oakland City Attorney John Russo were good enough to come down to Lake Merritt and appear in my video. It was a great time! And Oakland never looked so good.

If you were on The Apprentice, e-mail me and share tips! Thanks!

The Jacksonville Super Bowl XXXIX Hotel Room Fiasco

I’m planning to attend what will be my fourth Super Bowl, this one in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve never been there. Regardless, it’s a city I look at with more than a bit of envy and anger simply because we lost to them, That’s right, I worked to bring the 2005 Super Bowl to Oakland, and not Jacksonville. Jacksonville won over Oakland and Miami at the NFL Owner’s Meeting in Atlanta, in November 1st-3rd 2000.

One of the reasons for their victory in 2000 was that they claimed to have 17,000 hotel rooms secured. To prove it they submitted signed contracts. Now, the NFL Super Bowl Hotel Contract is a 13-page affair that would scare the devil. And in a lot of cases, if you view some hoteliers as the devil, that’s what happened in the case of the SF Bay Area.

Well, more about that later. Let me cut to the chase. The NFL expected 10,000 rooms from Jacksonville, and got 3,500. That’s not including the cruise ships they brought in to make up the huge hotel room shortage.

Some people blame the NFL owners approval of an initiative called “Jax39” for this. The simple story is that the NFL team owners gave the Jacksonville Host Committee approval to gain more money from hotels than was allowed under the initial contract, and to pay for improvements to host the Super Bowl. In other words, they allowed them to gouge patrons.

I think the NFL set itself back to 1996, when hucksters and shady hotel people overpriced the heck out of people attending the 1996 Super Bowl in Phoenix. The NFL started issuing contracts after that, and things were more or less ok….until now. It’s a nightmare to get a room and many are going for over $400 a night.

I think I’ve got a room at the Best Western Executive Inn, and not for $400 a night, but for $170. I got it via a friend who knows a guy who runs a booking firm in New York. I generally get my room through the NFL, so this is way different. This time, Sunday Billings of NFL Special Events, who's a heck of a great person and has gotten my rooms for me all the way back to 2000, called me to explain the problem. It's a terrible deal this time.

I’ll say what I’ve said before: Jacksonville has no business hosting the Super Bowl. The region does not have enough hotels. Moreover, to build a large hotel room inventory just for the Super Bowl is stupid, as most of the hotels will go empty, and the Super Bowl’s not going to be there every year.

The Super Bowl is a measure of where a city and a region should be in order to be considered a "top-tier" economically successful urban place. The NFL has specific specifications for how many hotels and what kind, as well as the size of ballroom space. This is a great gauge for what a region needs, not just to host a Super Bowl but any large convention or event.

It's also a great way to determine if a region should be in the Super Bowl mix at all. I know that the Jacksonville people bugged the NFL for two years before they were taken seriously. And the Jacksonville boosters had a popular NFL owner in J. Wayne Weaver, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. That goes a long way, as the Super Bowl is a way of rewarding owners for being great team players. What I mean is, for example, San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos is known as the kind of person who will let you as a fellow NFL owner use his private plane. That's a "chit" he can "cash in" to get San Diego the bid to host the Super Bowl (Provided San Diego produces a good bid package.)

So, in honor of Wayne Weaver, the league fudged things a bit, I think.

Most cities that have over 50,000 hotel rooms within one hour of the downtown have them for one reason: there are a lot of people who live there, and so hotel rooms are needed to house people who visit the other people who live in the region. (Yeah, that's more than one reason, but whatever.) It’s not just a tourist matter, but simple population density as well. Jacksonville is not a truly large first tier urban area.

The Jacksonville host committee and hotel brokers are pushing people as far out and away as Orlando, which is three hours away, and comprises a whole other metro area. The NFL has always told us we have to find 17,000 hotel rooms within an hour of the stadium. The San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area has about 60,000 rooms.

That whole message of "hotel room radius" has been blown away with Jacksonville.

The NFL’s made a mess it has to clean up. I think one move is to avoid going into regions that are too small, and regardless of how much they want it or how popular the team owner is in the league.

American cities that have teams and enough hotels within an hour of the stadium (no cruise ships) should be the candidate hosts. Period. That includes Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, San Diego, Houston, Detroit, and New York, if they get a dome. The San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area is the best-undiscovered host region. (OK...1984 was a long way away.)

Oakland and the SF Bay Area would have been better hosts. And were it not for Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, we would have won.

In other words, Jerry lost it for us. And that’s something I’ll not get over for a while. He really mucked it up.

More on that, later.

The Matter of Randy Moss and the Media

Look. The only people who really care about what Randy Moss did when he scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers (in Sunday’s NFL Wild Card Playoff Game) are the media. I don’t care, but I’m freaking tired of hearing about it. In fact, the only reason why we are paying attention to this is that the sports media people will not let it go.

Now, if the Green Bay Packers fans mooned Randy Moss, the media would not spend as much time on it. And you know what, when the 2005 NFL season rolls around, and the Vikings travel to Green Bay, I’ll bet they do it, and in the stands and before him while he’s one the sidelines, not as the team buss comes driving up.

Watch. Just watch.

A Great Weekend Dinner To Be Invited To

Last Saturday, I was invited to an impromptu dinner party thrown by my new friend Deborah and her husband Sean. Deb and I have been talking a lot about her coming to SBS as our CFO, so I felt “obligated” to make the trek down to Milbrea from Oakland…or let the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) take me.

I went even though I was supposed to go to the movies with Laura, but I thought she’d go down there with me. Nope. Wrong. So, I was alone. Sadly. I like her, but I think she wants to be more of a friend than anything. Whereas I would prefer a little more certain and serious tie.

Anyway, what was so nice about the party is that I felt instantly accepted by Deb’s husband and friends. It’s worth stating that since there are not a lot of African Americans in the Bay Area (10 percent) one wonders if they’re really going to be genuinely accepted in what (more often than not) are all-white audiences. I mean some make efforts to connect with you, but sometimes it’s clumsy.

But on Saturday, January 8th there was none of that at all. I stayed from 7 to 3 AM. And we talked about everything under the sun of popular culture. And, yes, for those who know me, I was not shy about eating. (I’m not fat, but I can pack away a lot of food.)

What made the night’s conversation flow, aside from the people, was the music being piped into the house from various speakers. The music was a mix of stuff from the 80s, 90s, and today. It was also the selection of music that people in late 20s and early 40s would like and talk about, especially after the wine flowed.

In fact, what occurred to me was that the people of America are increasingly mated by the cultural glue of music. I think that the larger selection of music from seemingly every decade and its quality and clarity have served to mesh generations in an unprecedented way. Moreover, music technology and the growth of communications systems are bringing people together and breaking down imaginary racial barriers every day.

While I think this is an amazing development, I have one question: Why isn’t anyone writing about it? What? I am. Yeah, but I don’t want to be the only voice. Ok, bloggers, I need help. Get to writin’

Oh, to show you how tech has progressed, I’m writing this from The Alley, having finished dinner here and enjoying an Irish Coffee as I write, with Rod Dibble playing the piano over there across the room…and, because I wanted to. Now, when
I get back home, I’ll upload this into my blog.

In fact, if The Alley had a wireless transmitter…