Friday, April 4, 2008

Stadium groundbreaking fills a big hole ... drops a big splash

Today's groundbreaking for Ifocision Stadium and Summa Field went well ... albeit in real football weather with some rain and wind.

I had a great time as the emcee because the project is such an awesome "get" for the city .. and because I'm among those who've been calling audibles for a downtown football stadium for years. Nice to see the money and the planning have finally come together.

Dr. Proenza thanked the dignitaries -- specifically Infocision and Summa whose large gifts make it all possible -- and other significant players in the audience. Proenza rolls with the punches pretty well. He accidentally called the Don Plusquellic "Doctor" and then couldn't quite come up with Deputy Mayor Dave Lieberth's name. Still, Proenza just laughs it off and is pretty good at keeping a crowd at ease but on-topic. Must be part of the reason he's been so good at driving the dollars to overhaul the entire campus.

Plusquellic quipped that it's so cold that "everyone will walk away saying that Zippy had the best speech of the day because it was so short." (Of course, mascot fans will get the joke because they know that Zippy and other mascots never talk) Plusquellic also made note that the "rubber bowl has served its purpose" and that he wants to be one of the first to throw a pass in the new stadium before the Sept. 19, 2009 opener against Indiana. I actually teased that the Mayor had four years of eligibility left should Head Coach JD Brookhart need a QB.

The most memorable moment may have come from someone who wasn't expecting the spotlight. Ken Torisky is one of the hardest-working, nicest public relations folks in the business. He's so dedicated that when one side of the roof to the canvass tent began to leak on people in the seats, Ken jumped in to try and keep others from getting wet. Unfortunately, Ken hit the wrong part of the canvass and about 5 gallons of fresh rain water fell on Ken and his nice suit. The crowd gasped .. and Dr. William Demas from the U of A Board of Trustees had to pause in his speech. Ken got a towel and everyone felt for him ... but it was a lousy way to become part of the press conference.

Ted Curtis, the U of A VP whose been leading the project, later made reference to Ken's misfortune by saying, "waterfalls are not a part of the complex, but I've got some ideas now."

The dignitaries turned the dirt on cue .. and the project officially got underway .. although some 75,000 cubic yards of dirt have already been moved.

Afterwards, there was a nice lunch set up inside the fieldhouse. The pizza and sandwiches were great .. and everyone seemed to be enjoying talking about the great games ahead.

The odd part was watching folks with their dessert. There were cookies in the shape of Zippy. It was fun watching folks hold the cookie and not know if they should bite Zippy's head off first .. especially with the actual Zippy so close by.


Anonymous said...


Are you a journalist or a booster for UA and its stadium?

I know you have a good reputation as a reporter, but do you think you can keep your objectivity on a UA story down the road if you agree to emcee an event like this?

I guess I'm a little troubled that you would agree to do this considering your reputation.

BTW, Ken's name is Torisky, not Toriskey.

Eric Mansfield said...

Yes, I'm a journalist ... but that doesn't prevent me from emceeing a community groundbreaking.
I'm not sure why anyone would think my involvement as master of ceremonies in an historic, community event somehow precludes me from being objective on my stories covering the stadium project itself. Somehow you might be taking my involvement as an endorsement .. and those aren't the same things.
You need to understand that my role as Akron's evening news anchor puts me in position to provide insight and analysis of events that most people don't get to see in person. That's where my blog comes in.
I'm not going to write something negative about a topic just to somehow sound "objective" or give a false impression that I "distanced" myself from it. That's absurd.
Honeslty, I invite you to read my post again.
The only "boosting" I did about the project was in the second paragraph where I said it was an "awesome get" for the city ... what reporter would see a new downtown stadium paid with all private $$ as anything but an "awesome get"?
The rest of my blog shares insight into some of the minor things that many didn't see.
Your concern and points are well-received .. I appreciate the questions you've asked. Just know that I've been a journalist long enough to know when something is OK and when it's a compromising situation ethically. What you don't know is how many events I turn down just for those perceptions. I'm so careful that I don't put even one sign in my yard during election season .. not even a school levy sign for the district my kids attend. I'm that aware of my position and my need to appear objective.
As for Ken's name, can I blame it on the water that fell on his head?
In all seriousness, I finished writing that blog entry just before the evening broadcast, so I made an error because I was rushing. My bad. My fault. It's fixed now ... and I'll be sure to make peace with Ken.
Stay in touch .. Eric

rootvg said...

Eric, do you have any information on some of the personalities from the Akron radio scene from the sixties and seventies?

Just curious!

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