For Jai Alai News by Chris Spidle:
I would like to provide an update on events in Phoenix and the west coast of US generally, regarding Jai Alai expansion interest. But first I wish to express my concern and disappointment at the news Dania Jai Alai is coming to an end.
I want to be clear I am not directly involved and probably not even entitled to express more than an opinion. The impact on players, their families, and the sport itself will be devastating. This seems to me, an “outsider” to be a cold business decision when in fact there are lives in the balance not to mention the future of a great sport.
Finger pointing is never appropriate, and my opinions hopefully do not get perceived that way. But if there was ever a case of the victims not deserving the outcome of decisions made by others for simply economic factors; this is one. Dania has always been a leader in support of Jai Alai so it seems they will again lead in bringing the eventual demise of the sport…or not. It is really, up to the owners. This does not need to be “the end”. It should be a “pause” and a restart.
I am promoting a “re-awakening” of Jai Alai in a new, exciting market. This is a chance to “bake in” factors that will give Jai Alai new popularity and reinvigorate player development through providing venues in upscale markets such as Phoenix Metro Area. If there was ever a great opportunity for Jai Alai, this is it. Closing and walking away is not support. It is failure of ownership to foresee business events before impacting those most devoted to Jai Alai. In my humble opinion, the fronton owners not only bear the responsibility they own the cause. No finger pointing at state lotteries will suffice. As in Any other business endeavor (and all human activity actually), responsibility is in the hands of those calling the shots.
All I can suggest, as the business of Florida frontons is not my domain; is that the owners take this great opportunity to explore options to create a new set of dynamics in Phoenix. I am herby inviting ALL interested parties, especially including Florida Jai Alai fronton owners, investors, enthusiasts, and players to investigate the opportunities for a “league” with an arrangement similar to other pro sports and built upon the franchise model. Battling head-to-head with state lotteries and other pari-mutual sports is a thing of the past. There is not ONE nationally followed sport that relies on the pari-mutual model.
Now for an update on the Tempe Arizona development where Jai Alai has been proposed.
To recap, the City of Tempe, Arizona (home to Arizona State University) has requested proposals from developers for use of a 46-acre site adjacent to the entertainment district known as “Mill Ave” in Tempe.
Our announcement to the development community including each of the 100 developers who requested the RFP, was met warmly with several inquiries including one of the world’s largest architectural, engineering and construction companies.
Discussions were held with several of the developers (which must at this point remain un-named) including some extremely “interesting” individuals who were very knowledgeable about Jai Alai, the site, and the group the Town of Tempe most wants to have at the site. Over 400 developers in total were provided a simple introduction to our concept which included construction of a Jai Alai fronton combined with an American Basketball Association franchise facility sharing common area space.
The awesome Benny Bueno contributed greatly to some of the discussions adding not only his deep understanding of players, the game, and the industry; but also putting forth his intuitive suggestions for player development as we move into the future of Jai Alai. Mr. Bueno’s expertise and ability to represent the game as no other can; went a long way in assisting us in gaining traction.
The Phoenix Coyotes Hockey team submitted a proposal though it seems it may not be as viable as desired. There are still lots of variables; one of them being the site is a brownfield (former landfill) and Tempe has not reached a decision. The momentum we developed through issuing our proposal to the developers carried us outside the original boundaries of our concept. That is where the franchise model was developed. An entertainment facility with gaming rather than a gaming facility with Jai Alai; an approach perhaps the owners of frontons in Florida and the rest of the Jai Alai world will choose to pursue with us.
Our next step is one on one engagement with prospective developers and established venue operators. While our vision remains local for the time being we are beginning to see an interest in expansion of a franchise concept throughout the west and outside the US in traditional Jai Alai markets.
Any offers of assistance from the Florida fronton owners will be greatly welcome.
We will keep you posted here at the Pelota Press