Tough going at the gate for new stadiums
THUMBS DOWN: New football stadiums are nice - really nice, as a matter of fact - but filling those new bleachers can be a problem once the luster wears off a little. Such is the case at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Gophers, and the Regional Event Center in Marshall where the Mustangs play. The Gophers sold out just one home game this season; they sold them all out in the stadium's inaugural season last year. Average attendance dropped a little more than 1,000 this year to 49,513. It will continue to drop unless the team turns itself around, which will surely prompt a number of "told-ya-so's" from opponents of new stadiums in Minnesota. Southwest Minnesota State University is in a similar boat. The Mustangs saw their attendance fall this year as well in their now-3-year-old stadium. SMSU went 2-4 at the REC this year and averaged 2,334 fans, down from 2,671 per game in the stadium's second season when the Mustangs were .500 at home. Interestingly, last year's total attendance was better than in the REC's inaugural season of 2008 when average attendance was 2,420. The decline in attendance notwithstanding, the REC?has made a difference attendance-wise. During SMSU's final season at Mattke Field, the Mustangs drew 1,789 per game in five dates. Still, it's clear that while neither of these campus Cadillacs have any rust on them, the new-stadium smell is gone and it's up to the players and coaches to build winning traditions to boost the fan base of their respective teams. TCF Bank Stadium and the REC are too nice, too expensive, to not be filled to capacity, but even with a fresh crop of students coming in each year, both schools are finding that it's hard to fill even the finest of venues with average or below-average teams.
Cuts might hit hard-worker hard
THUMBS DOWN: It's unfortunate that some of the shrapnel from potential city budget cuts - something we all knew was coming in these chilling economic times - might end up hitting a good, hard-working person who gets little credit because of the behind-the-scenes nature of his work. Cable Director Jess Nelson of Studio 1 is one of the city's most popular people no one knows anything about. He's not a government official, not a captain of industry. What he does do is attend just about every major event in town - from council meetings, to athletic events, to concerts - equipped with video equipment to record everything for Marshall's cable access channel. If you see something local on TV, it means Nelson was there filming it. It surely must seem like a thankless job at times, but Nelson continues to cover a ton of ground to record and broadcast the city of Marshall's most important events. Now, his full-time status is on the line. Marshall?Cable Commission's David Patterson said at Wednesday night's special budget meeting they have found nearly $16,000 worth of possible budget reductions to keep Nelson full-time. We hope Nelson can retain that full-time status and continue to record and document all things Marshall, even if doing so might be made more difficult because of cuts.
Heading to court?
THUMBS DOWN: Recounts are one thing, but taking it to the courtroom? Again? GOP Party Chairman Tony Sutton hinted this week that the Dayton/Emmer race could end up in court, reviving memories of Coleman/Franken in '08. Dayton's lead is around 9,000 votes, and this race needs to be resolved soon, but not in a courtroom.