The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay: Cavaliers owner bets big on Detroit

  • No one can tell me that AT&T Field sounds better than Candlestick Park or that Heinz Field is preferable to Three Rivers Stadium.

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  • Some years ago, I was flayed by Cleveland Cavaliers President and Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert for complaining that his renaming Gund Arena to Quicken Loans Arena was part of a clunky, unimaginative trend by corporations that don’t give a damn about poetry, only presence.
    Mr. Gilbert threw a fit by way of an email over my column, which cited a number of ill-named venues, including Enron Field. The response was understandable but a little mystifying. Understandable because it’s his property to do with as he wishes. Mystifying because if I were a billionaire, I wouldn’t care what some newspaper scribbler in Canton, Ohio, thought.
    But I haven’t changed my mind about the stadium name game.
    No one can tell me that AT&T Field sounds better than Candlestick Park or that Heinz Field is preferable to Three Rivers Stadium — and I don’t even like the Steelers.
    If FirstEnergy really wanted to impress Northeast Ohioans, it might have considered giving a $65 million rebate to its customers rather than handing over the money to the Cleveland Browns for naming rights to their stadium.
    And really, it’s useless, as it already has a name: “The Factory of Sadness” may as well be stuck to that building with Gorilla Glue.
    That said, credit must be given when and where it’s due.
    In April, The New York Times published a story about Gilbert and his plan to invest millions to revitalize his hometown of Detroit. He already has spent $1 billion on 3 million square feet in Detroit real estate, with plans to buy the Greektown Casino Hotel, install a light-rail transportation system and add more downtown retail space.
    If any city is in need of rescue — of an American Marshall Plan — it’s Detroit, a city so deeply in debt that its state-appointed emergency manager is toying with selling off artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
    Recently, private businesses ponied up $8 million to help the city to buy police cruisers and ambulances.
    The city’s police officers are retiring at the rate of 25 per month, prompting neighborhood organizations to take up street patrols, because who’s clamoring to be a cop?
    As the city that put America on wheels, Detroit once embodied the Midwestern work ethic. But it was fatally wounded by race riots, white flight, overreaching unions and abandonment by corporations that couldn’t even be bothered to demolish their empty factories. Its carcass has been further picked by corruption, malfeasance and incompetence the likes of which haven’t been seen since Tammany Hall.
    It’s all in squeamish, heart-breaking detail in journalist Charlie LeDuff’s new book, “Detroit: An American Autopsy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Gilbert’s investment plan probably isn’t solely driven by altruism, but so what? He’s taking a gamble. In contrast, it costs nothing to sit on the sidelines and talk about why he shouldn’t do it.
    We who live in Canton have grown up listening to this same Greek chorus sing a constant dirge about why Canton isn’t worth saving, either. The naysayers can tell you all the reasons why Canton is so bad but not a word about how to improve the city. You almost wonder if some of them want it to fail.
    It’s said that fortune belongs to the bold. It takes nerve to try to save a place as far gone as Detroit is.
    As I said, I believe in giving a person his due. Even if he thinks I’m a jerk.

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