Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Downtown Street Event Closure Taskforce report

Missed in the run-up to the holidays 2: Thursday 18th December saw the Austin Downtown Street Event Closure Taskforce[1][2] report back to the full City Council.

Area considered by the Task Force

Area considered by the Task Force

I had attended the four of the first five or so meetings, including the infamous “Conely mob” meeting on August 11th. At that meeting, an innocent request to get a few sports events participants to some of the meetings, got out of hand in an “Internet connected world” sort-of way, and a hundred or so showed up at one meeting, leaving no standing or sitting room and a lot of disgruntled attendees.[More on this later].

After about a 6-meeting gestation, bi-weekly meetings, went weekly. The task force was co-led by RunTex owner Paul Carrozza, and local political grandee and former Democratic U.S. representative, Jack Hightower, with assistant City Manager Rudy Garza accompanied by a city staff from Parks and Recreation and other effected depts. as well as Lt. Boydston, APD Special Events Unit and other safety related groups to advise. Also heavily involved in the process(from my observation) was Larry Shooler, Policy Director for City Council Member Lee Leffingwell.

However, staff were there primarily as advisors, the bulk of the work was done by the task force members. For those of us from the public that did show up, there was a limited opportunity for people to speak for 3-minutes before the start of the meetings. After that it was down to the old game of passing short notes to task force members on specific points during meetings, a frustrating experience at best. Mid-way through the process the task force seemed to be getting bogged down, lack of clear definition and the [obvious?] groupings for and against events, seemed to be stopping reasonable progress. I also missed about 5-meetings.

It was then with some surprise when I attended the last two meetings. The task force had come up with a good set of recommendations. Seemed to have pulled together some key threads. Presentation of these on the 18th was pretty straight forward with a number of the Task Force members, Shooler and Garza present along with the full council.

The key points and focus areas were:

  • Issues/Challenges
    • Events in “downtown” up from 110 in 2005 to 145 in 2007
    • Number of downtown residents estimated to almost triple between 2000-2010
  • Event Frequency, Number, Variety, Scheduling, Capping etc.
  • Application Approval Process and Timeline etc.
  • Set Race Routes, Street and Building Access etc.
  • Financial Cost/Impact and Event Fee Structure
  • Political Events and Parades were not in-play for the Task Force

And a large number of issues and concerns related to these. From which the Task Force made the following recommendations, presented by Carrozza to the City Council.

  • Create Office of Special Events (OSE) to report to the City Manager’s Office
  • Create Special Events Advisory Commission
  • Create a “no event” zone around 5th/6th Streets to provide open access
  • There should be a no-entrapment rule, all events should provide alternate access
  • Walks should be held in a “moving bubble” rather than blocking streets
  • There should be a cap on events at current levels
  • Timeline for Event submission and review changed from 60 to 210 days prior to the event
  • Events getting 20% or higher objections are referred to Special Events Advisory Commision
  • Organizers must have approved application before marketing events
  • Traffic plan inc. alternate access must be finalized earlier

Of these, when you look at it, the Cap was perhaps most feared by the event community. The problem is that each event community has their own, blinkered view on the disruption caused by their events. Limited by their events own geographic boundaries. What they don’t see is the big picture. The problem is that under the current scheme, nor does anyone person or department in the City, since different types of events are currently permitted and approved through different depts. So while you could take 145 events, and say thats almost 3-every weekend. It isn’t, sometimes it is more, sometimes less, and there are the inevitable clashes which don’t become apparent until Road Closures are processed, sometimes long after the events are approved.

For such a relatively small downtown area, often using public roads, 145 events as a cap seems more than enough. One of the key recommendations of the task force was to tier races and to find and encourage other great parts of the City. This both spreads the benefit and the burden. The continued, unbridled growth of events in the downtown district was perhaps the greatest concern of the non-events stakeholders, including residents, businesses, Churches etc. all of whom suffer regular disruption, which is currently left to the best will of the event organizer to minimize.

The “no event” zone was referred to as both the “Equator” and the “Red Sea”. Using the former designation, it was envisaged that the “Red Sea: would part on Congress for no more than six “grandfathered” events. Other events could start north or south of 5th/6th St but not cross or close them. So You could have a 5k race that went south from 4th, down Chavez, and loop back around, but it couldn’t cross or close 5th/6th, likewise a Walk could start on or north of 7th but not cross or close 5th/6th.

Final recommendations were around the City’s ability to understand, plan, budget and grant waivers for events. Currently there is no clear process, or understanding of the cost or benefit for events, and no tracking or post event evaluation is done to see if event organizers meet their commitments, and if waivers for closures and fees etc. are justified. There is also some work to be done on various ordinances if these recommendations are to become the norm.

The council meeting wrapped up with questions from council members. There were few. Members Leffingwell and Martinez both raised the point of citizen input. This was accepted, and the job is now on staff to turn the recommendations into proposed policy.

As part of that process, and in review with council, it’s clear that a broad coalition of event organizers and participants, and NOT just those from the sports community, need to review and provide feedback, as well as the neighborhoods, including mine Bouldin Creek, and the businesses and other effected parties. It’s our city and its also the events, from art, to music, and sport, are what make downtown Austin the small village it is, in a Capital city.

[1] “Downtown is defined by MLK to the north; Oltorf to the south; I35 to the east; and Lamar to the west.
[2] Minutes, Mission Statement, and full member list(although not including their alliances) can be found on the city website, here.

Santa Speedo 2008 – Hot to trot

Some of this years runners

Some of the 2008 speedo runners

The 2nd Austin Santa Speedo to raise awareness for Austin based outyouth.org appears to have a blast, there were more than double last years runners. It’s understandable that people are a little self conciousness but you really are invisible in a crowd of some 4,500 odd.

Ed(Head Santa) and I(CEO, Chief Elf Officer) hope to get the numbers up over the next couple of years to the point we can organize our our direct fundraising event/run. Until then we’ll keep going with the Santa Speedo at the Trail of Lights 5k. Mark your calendars for 2009, come on down, don’t be shy.

Before you ask, most of us are straight, except for the GBF’s who were racing for the 2nd year; you don’t have to have cancer to raise money for it etc. Many of us can completely understand and the need for people to support confused teens at their most vulnerable times, if you enjoy Jasons video and the run, why not donate just a few dollars to outyouth?
They accept paypal etc. http://www.outyouth.org/howtohelp/donate.html

A big thanks this year to Guin for getting Brian, Krista and the Texas State Triathlon team up from San Marcos. Also to Jason for the video. There are more pictures on flickr, here. This year and last years videos are here. The Texas State team also have some pictures on facebook, here.

2nd Austin Santa Speedo run

Santa Speedo AustinWell things are getting going for this years Santa Speedo run. I met with Head Santa Ed last week for lunch to plan out the 2nd Annual Austin Santa Speedo run. As Head Elf I should have written this post days ago. Between Ed and I we’ve created evites, Facebook events and more. While I blog here on Austin metroblog, Allen Chen over on the Austinist covered it first, and to be honest they did a great job last year too!

The purpose is to raise awareness and promote the work of Out Youth Austin! To take part, you must register for the 5k via the Trail of Lights 5k, and then show up on the night, at least by 6.15pm near the bonfire and we will strip down to red speedo, or swim costume and then start the run together. See last years video on youtube or the pictures on Flickr.

So, if you have not received an evite, or on facebook, now’s your chance to join in and have the most fun you can in a red speedo or bikini. We’ve got members from the Texas State tri team coming along, a number of people have signed up for the evite. Last year the temperatures were in the high 70’s for the run, @alkaloids and Derek Yorek of Team Hump started up front and finished up there, the rest of us mingled around near the back and ran through the crowds.

Now, I understand the whole speedo thing here in America. If you feel that going and buying a speedo is something that is just ‘beyond the pale‘ and not to be seen doing in public, do I have a deal for you. The swimoutlet.com has red speedos and bikini seperates on sale for just $9.95 plus postage. Don’t delay, get yours in time for the run!

This year the plan is to have three or four groups if people show interest. there will be the fast, the joggers, the back of the pack crew(which will inclide me this year as I’m doing a 100-mile bike ride the same day), and the supporters.

If you really can’t see running through some 1,000 people in a speedo or bikini then why not come along and support? Instead of paying the race entry fee, donate the same amount to OutYouth Austin.

Otherwise, see you there. Don’t forget to confirm your attendance via either the evite or the facebook event.

Get Motivated, Get Fit

If you are exhausted after trailing around the shops today, or feeling a little round after eating too much yesterday, two events to get you back off the couch and active again. Just as the doldrums about the economy kick back in, these are two events to either make you think again or give you a new opportunity.

The first up is the Austin Get Motivated event. Not so much for me, while I could use some motivation at this point, I somehow think that my cynical personality would come out and I’d miss the message while criticizing the messenger. Peter and Tamara Lowe are the latest in a long line of almost evangelical, motivational speakers and they’ll be in town on December 2nd at the Austin Convention Center with General Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani, as well as a host of other speakers. I talked to a ‘city official” at yesterdays Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot, and was told they were expecting 12,000 people to turn up. The convention/seminar starts at 8.00am, seems like downtown is likely to be jammed from 7am.

If you want to go, it will cost $299. However, for that you can apparently take your whole office.

Next up is a date for the diary. On Tuesday January 13th the City of Austin is hosting the Active Texas Summit at the Palmer Events Center on Barton Springs Road. It doesn’t appear to be aimed at the general public, but at $95 for early registraion, I actually think the ability to hear first hand on what is being proposed, strategies to get involved in sports related events in Austin and Texas, if you are looking for something to get you back on track after the Christmas holidays, this could be it.

The leisure sector, fitness, events etc. are an important service industry in North America. If times continue to get hard and people hunker down, keeping this vital part of the economy going will be key. It’s all too easy to complain about the events that go on downtown, and I take part in both, the events and complaining, they do provide an essential link to the economy through food sellers, facilities providers, fencing, porta-lets, printing, police, the list go’s on and on. Continuing and growing the tradition is an opportunity even in hard times. People need distractions, they need focus and for many sports not only fulfill those needs, but they also are a significant aid in fitness and health.

The day starts early, at 6:30 with an optional exercise program, and ends late with Health and Fitness Awards and a Blues show at Antones, with (healthy)meals and (virtuous)breaks, and transportation to Antones included. In the middle there will be a host of speakers and sessions, the agenda has Mayor Will Wynn, Governor Perry, Luci Baines Johnson, Paul Carroza, Marc Ott, and Susan Dell who is a member of the President’s Council for Physical Fitness and Sports.

So, feeling a bit overloaded after yesterdays bird? Maybe one of these is for you!

Silence and Sunset on South 1st

The sun goes down on TSD\'s homecoming game

The sun goes down on TSD's homecoming game

Life is full of distractions, competing priorities, places to go and people to see, general noise. And so it was late this morning that I found myself going into the Texas School for the Deaf on S 1st St. It was Homecoming day and the school was open with tours, booths and later the Homecoming football game.

Since I live up the street it seemed like a good reason to go visit. $7 entry fee, $1 for the program, was good deal. What happened next both challenged, surprised and pleased me. As I strolled along the various booths, there were people everywhere. Normally this sort of affair would feel oppressive, noise everywhere, music blasting out, children screaming, parents yelling and more. Not here, almost total silence. The sound of a generator running, but not much else, yet everywhere their were people having animated discussions and having fun. It was invigorating, inspirational.

I returned later to watch the Homecoming football game, I’ll readily admit I don’t get home coming at all. My generation(in the UK) didn’t have graduation, homecoming, or for that matter Halloween. It was watching the game I found myself really challenged. American Football which I do understand, but have never played, is indeed a game of sound. Here though, while there was some noise from the crowd, the sounds were primarily the crunch of players colliding and of referees whistles. Despite the large crowds on both sides of the field, and cheerleaders, yet again everything was conducted in near silence. Watching the coaches and players though made me realize what a challenge being deaf must be.

The players on both sides were disciplined, perhaps more so than those with hearing. The slightest gesture, the instructions, the calls, all demanded total concentration. Only a few times did the game go on past the referee calling a play dead, mostly those plays whistled dead before the snap. Fascinating. Unfortunately, while I might not know much about homecoming, I could guess that it wasn’t the way Texas School for the Deaf would have wanted, by half time they were losing 24-0 to Maryland School for the Deaf. As I left about 6-minutes into the 2nd half, Maryland had scored again.

However, I left with a new respect and understanding for the challenges faced by the deaf, and having seen what a great campus, and community that support it.

[Edit: Thanks to SukiFuller for the corrections, Homecoming eh… who’da thought?]

Street closures, task force and downtown disruptions this w/e

Better get ready for major downtown disruptions this weekend. First up the 4th Annual BatFest shuts South 1st Bridge all day Saturday, overnight and all day Sunday. Of course Saturday p.m., is the UT Football Game. This is something I have yet to experience, but given it’s the first game of the season, and with the newly expanded stadium(some 92,000 seats), roads will be closed and very busy in and around the Stadium, both east and west of I35.

Sometime Sunday probably well before 6.30p.m., Congress and a number of surrounding roads will close for the Human Race Nike 10k. You can see a route map here. It’s worth noting though that it’s not just a race. There will be a large number of entrants, and after the race their is a concert up by the Capital building at 8.30pm with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. All the run participants get free entry, you can also pay separately. So some roads will remain closed until late. The Nike 10k organizers have gone the whole hog. Not only are they providing a bag drop for a change of clothing after the race, but they are also providing a bike valet and compound service, I’ll be cycling down.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks East at Waterloo Park will be the KVET Party in the Park(*). at the same time. Starting at 12pm, roads around the park will be closed or have restricted access.
So that takes care of Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, starting very early (I know I’m volunteering and have been asked to show up at 4.30a.m.), more roads will be closed for the Austin Triathlon. Amongst the roads closed Monday morning will be Congress from the Capital, across the bridge to South Congress and Mary; Caesar Chavez from Congress to Austin High under Mopac, I assume both directions; South 1st Bridge, Riverside Dr from Barton Springs down to S Lamar, also Lee Barton Drive along the pitch and putt Golf Course.

I’m sure they’ll be more events than that, but those are the ones I know about. You could look at this as a major inconvenience, or you could take it as a great opportunity to walk or bike downtown. The 2nd St District shops will be open, you’ll have to wait to cross a few roads, but otherwise it should be car free.

Which brings me around to the Austin City Council Task Force on Street and Event Road Closures. Monday saw the latest meeting of the task force. Unlike the prior meeting which was packed to the gills with athletes, this time there were only about eight members of the public. After hearing from four of us the task force got on with it’s business. By the end of the session, a sense of urgency and organization had taken over from the fact-finding and discovery phase. If the task force is to produce anything meaningful, they’ll have to get going. They’ve agreed to meet weekly starting September 8th, organized around an agreed set of agenda items. As always, they’ll take the first 10-speakers from the public to register on the day.

If you didn’t get to speak previously and have any constructive suggestions, as opposed to testimonial on how this event, or that event changed your life, why not come along and speak. Make some notes, even feel free to read your speech, you get just 3-minutes though. What’s clear from this weekends event and road closures is that some coordination is needed, along with a much better, more coordinated road closure and alternative route scheme.

(*) Party in the Park organizers are going to have their hands full if their what to bring/what not to bring list is to be take seriously and enforced. Cell Phones and iPods that don’t have voice recorders won’t be allowed, nor will digital still cameras that also take videos. Also, what’s a laptop these days compared to some of the latest PDA’s and iPhones? Why differentiate? What’s the point of making rules that you can’t or won’t keep??

Street Event Closure Task Force

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

//www.flickr.com/photos/austintolin/On Monday I attended the Austin City Councils’ Street Event Closure Task Force meeting. I wrote much of this post during the meeting, but decided that reflection was called for. It seems others would have done well to do the same.

I learned about the taskforce from a widely circulated email, that must have gone to almost every runner, cyclist and triathlete in Austin, and probably a lot wider afield. You can see a copy of the email here on Brandon Marshs’ Get out and do something blog. The problem is something near 100 people turned up to speak, and as per city rules, only the first 10 to register got to speak. The rest left frustrated, not understanding the process, and not understanding what to do next.

What’s clear is that the city is caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to events. They need events, we need them. Events(not just races, triathlons and crits’) form a core than binds and attracts many people to downtown Austin. The current rules, and city staffs ability to implement them, is a wash. 60-days, 30-ways, waivers, Police costs, road closures, City council overrides – these are all a fact of life for the events than run downtown.

The city has a process for coming up with new rules and processes; the task force is part of that. However, mob rule doesn’t work, unless applied at the time a decision needs to be made. Monday’s performance wasted an opportunity to get some valuable input from the stakeholders, not just a reason for people to speak passionately about their introduction to running.

Lobbying works. You might not like it, but it does. Witness members of the task force, many are effectively lobbyists for special interests groups. Lobbying has only become a dirty word since the bribery and payola cases from the 80’s and 90’s. My fellow Austinites had better get used to this. If we waste the next 4-5 meetings of the task force, each arriving increasingly earlier to sign-up and speak for their allotted 3-minutes. We need to elect a spokesperson, we need to have solutions to offer, not just complaints, and opposition.

I attended with a tongue in both cheeks, a foot in each running shoe, and splitting my time between T1 in Bouldin Creeek, and T2, a downtown race course for an event I want to take part in. Having been an organizer of some 10-domestic events in the UK, and part of the team for two major international triathlons, I can assure the neighborhoods that a race organizer that doesn’t care about them won’t be a race organizer next year. I can tell the runners and triathletes the same.

All parties need to recognize that the only solution IS compromise. We have to work together. On Monday, there was much discussion about events clashing on the same w/e and the problem this causes, for example closing all possible roads leading to a Church or business. Nothing was said about the week-in, week-out closure of the same roads for different events.

One solution postured is having a set of graduation courses away from downtown. Imagine, for four of eight weekends in April/May next year, the city will grant permission to close the access road you need to drive down to Ladybird Lake for your run, or to go meet with your cycling group to ride. It’s disruptive, it effects your planning, it breaks your routine. That’s how the Churches, businesses and public feel about your events. No matter how much that downtown 5k changed your life, you had no more right to run in it downtown, than a business does to have it customers come and buy that life changing couch(ask me about mine from Your Living Room!)

Sports participants need to also accept that the neighborhoods and business suffer in non-obvious ways. You’d never consider urinating on someones lawn first thing on Sunday, yet it regularly happens; you’d never throw your used gel packets on the ground when you get back to the car, but it regularly happens; no one minds as you discard your old top on S1st during the marathon, but we do; you always go to downtown restaurants after the race to refuel, but in reality, it doesn’t happen much, everyone else gets in their car and goes home.

This years Bat Fest will go ahead, despite the protestation of my neighborhood. We got no notice that the Bat Fest would be moved from South Congress to South 1st for this year only. Nor did any of the businesses or others affected. How can you plan around that? It’s not unreasonable to ask what is going on down at City Hall and demand change.

A few of the speakers on Monday were excellent. But while others might have made you feel good, they didn’t contribute much to the hard job the task force has to do. The time for mob rule, if needed, is at the end of the process. Let’s let the Task Force make their recommendations to city council. Then, Task Force chair Paul Carrozza can get the public meeting that he desperately wanted to placate race organizer and fellow task force member John Connley, whose email drew in the mob.

At that time we will know what is proposed. Under city rules, everyone that signs-up, should get to speak. The best part, is that you can sign-up to speak and donate your minutes to a spokesperson. So, get your thinking caps on.

What good ideas could help the city run events, find ways to enable our fellow citizens go about their lives and routines without undue disruption from us. These are the ideas the task force needs. Next meeting should be August 25, location and time TBC. I’ll be the guy in the sleeping bag outside the day before. If you really have something to add, come along.

If mob rule is needed, then it will be when the time comes to vote. Your council member needs to know how you feel about the final recommendations, given the low voter turn out at city council elections, a decent size group against any specific city resolution or process change ought to be able to gain the support of the council member. This will be especially true when it comes to the council vote of the outcome of the task force.

Rediscovering Austin: Tour de Condo?

Maybe the reason I have moved away from Austin in the past is because rediscovering Austin is so wonderful.  Today I set out on my bike for Mellow Johnny’s bike shop, owned by none other than Lance Armstrong (and a few others), to watch the end of today’s stage of the Tour de France.  They’re showing it on a giant screen every morning. The plan was to head for the gym after, as I hadn’t put sunscreen on or brought more than one water bottle.  But watching the Tour and the relatively nice day encouraged me to hop back on the bike and just start riding… around.

Meandering up through West Campus, I marveled at all of the apartment buildings and condos going up – seems like more activity there than downtown?  I wonder who will be able to afford to live in those places. I guess if you’re in your 20s and have a job in Central Austin that would be a good location. Will students be able to live there? I’m not sure what the maximum amount people can now get in student loans, but I have a feeling that many people will be tempted to spend their loan money on those cush digs. And they’ll pay for it later.

It’s great to just bike around on neighborhood streets and then hop on the path near Shoal Creek, then under Mopac on Bike Route 40 (I think) over to Exposition and down to Lake Austin Boulevard. There, again, you encounter the other end of student apartments, which is owned by the University and is reserved for married students.  Speaking of, the University of Texas has been advised that the land they own over there, known as the Brackenridge tract, should be developed. Now it’s the city’s turn to try to figure out what the citizens think about that… and this Saturday there will be a public meeting on the issue.   Will it be upscale condos and chic boutiques? Or can we figure out something better for the people who already live here, instead of just the refugees from California, New York, and other high-end places? Getting something innovative for working people in West Austin may not be an easy feat, but I have to ask.

From Lake Austin, I cruised under the Mopac bridge on the Roberta Crenshaw pedestrian/bike bridge, and down Barton Springs Road, stopping for a smoothie at long-time favorite Bicycle Sport Shop.  Again, passing more condo developments.

I know many people question the wisdom of building so many condos, but $4 plus gas is going to encourage more and more people to find refuge in the central city.  And that could mean, I hope, more people on bikes and less air pollution for us all. Which makes affordable housing in the central area all the more important. Michael King of the Austin Chronicle discusses some current efforts by Foundation Communities and others to provide affordable housing and address the NIMBY attitude in most neighborhoods.

Whew! What you can see on a simple bike ride in this town!

More Bike action, Barton Springs Road and Zilker Park

I guess “asleep at the wheel” isn’t funny when discussing cycling and the roads. I seem to have been so busy lately a number of events have passed me by though.

Barton Springs Rd Bike Lanes
One major one is the start of the construction of the new bike lanes on Barton Springs Road, that will run up and under Loop-1 aka Mopac(by the way, why are they called loops when they clearly don’t?) and through Zilker Park.

Work started on June 30th and will progress east to west with rolling road closures, the project is supposed to complete in time for folks to cycle safely to the trail of lights. There will also be walkways set back from the road for pedestrians.

Lance Armstrong bikeway
Also, its worth noting the first part of the Lance Armstrong bikeway between Lamar Blvd and Veterans Blvd is now open. Theres still a gap at the bridge before Mopac and Shoal Creek isnt connected up yet, but this is all goodness and the various folks involved should be congratulated. More details on each of these can be found on the city’s website bicycle section. http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/bicycle/

Michael Argall
Finally I’d like to take a moment to remember Travis County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Argall. Michael was killed Sunday while out cycling. I never met Micahel, but he sounds like a great guy. The policelink website has an in-depth retrospective and I know he was a coach here in town for Rogue running, and lots of people will be deeply saddened both by his passing and the nature of it, not least his family.

Paula Craig was a promising age group triathlete in my club, training for the triathlon world championships in 2001, that I’d also qualified for. Just like Michael, Paula was a Police officer with a promising future. Paula was also struck from behind by a car driver who was “blinded by the sun”. Unlike Michael, Paula survived and although paralyzed from the waist down, went on to become a national role model for wheel chair athletes.

Next time the sun is directly in your eyes while driving, or worse still, you are overcome by sudden tiredness please take care, its not just you out there. Slow down, take the appropriate action, carefully watching out for ALL other road users.

I’d like to extend the sympathy’s of myself and the other Austin metroblog writers to the family of Michael Argall. He is mourned and will be missed by people who never met him, a great tribute for a great guy.

Swept from the ice

It was with great sadness that I removed the link to the Austin Ice Bats hockey team from my personal home page. The fate of our team has received attention from Texas Monthly (“Empty Netter,” byline Jacon Cohen, June issue), the NYT slap shot blog (“As Time Expires, Memories of the Austin Ice Bats”), and this morning’s NYT sports page (“A Hockey Team Built on Showmanship Is Sidelined Indefinitely,” byline Michael Brick). Predictably, there are players who hope to discover a way to stay on in Austin, finding the idea of leaving unpalatable indeed. I never did see the Bats take to the ice after the move to the Chaparral rink. The author of today’s piece tries to have some fun with the notion of the livestock arena, but I liked the old-time fieldhouse atmosphere there at the Expo Center. I loved it that there were always people attending their first hockey game and delighting in it. I’ll always remember those times fondly; they were fun and there was some fine hockey, too.

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