Drew's Views

Drew's Views

November 23rd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

HEADLINE: Staying on The Block: Revamped Chattanooga Visitors Center to resemble Apple store

THE RECAP: Chattanooga's Visitors Center, which is moving to make room for indoor and outdoor climbing walls, has decided to create new space at CARTA's riverfront garage. The Visitors Center will "look like an Apple store," according to Bob Doak, who heads the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Doak said the cost of building the new space, which will include "higher tech-looking brochure racks," will be from $350,000 to $400,000.

DREW'S VIEW: You know what would draw more visitors to Downtown Chattanooga than a Visitors Center that looks like an Apple store? An actual Apple store.

Instead, taxpayers will end up shelling out a portion of the cost to build the unnecessarily fancy Visitors Center -- apparently in the hopes that someone hoping to pick up an iPad or get their MacBook Pro fixed will wander in and become so overwhelmed with excitement after receiving a brochure for the MoonPie General Store that they decide to spend the afternoon sight-seeing.

It's months from opening and it already sounds like a waste of money.

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HEADLINE: Coach Dooley fired as Vols face third consecutive losing season

THE RECAP: A few hours after the Volunteers suffered an embarrassing 41-18 loss to longtime punching bag Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley was fired. Dooley's tenure ends with a 15-21 overall record and a woeful 4-19 mark in the Southeastern Conference.

The price tag to buyout the current coaching staff and hire a new regime is expected to reach $9 million.

DREW'S VIEW: There was no doubt that it was time for Dooley to go. With nothing more on his resume than a 17-20 record at Louisiana Tech when he was hired, Dooley wilted under the pressure of big time college football and turned the Vols into SEC East basement dwellers.

It is fair, however, to ask if it's worth $9 million to end the Dooley nightmare. The answer is a resounding "yes" -- and not just because of wins and losses, but because of the bottom line.

In 2008, UT athletics brought in $101 million in revenues, ranking it fifth in the nation. Today, those revenues are stagnant -- still barely topping $100 million. As a result of this lack of growth, Tennessee has fallen to 10th nationally in athletic revenues. With the costs of coaches, recruiting, sod for the playing fields, chlorine for the swimming pools, weight rooms, marketing and everything else that goes along with college athletics increasing exponentially, Tennessee's athletic department actually lost $4 million last year.

This issue is intensified because, in the wake of the retirement of the legendary Pat Summitt as women's basketball coach this April and the 2011 firing of the highly successful Bruce Pearl as men's basketball coach, the basketball teams are bringing in less money than in previous years. As a result, the football team will be relied on to produce an even bigger share of revenue for UT for the foreseeable.

A new -- and successful -- football coach is vital in order for the UT athletic department to make ends meet. If paying $9 million now means an extra $20 million a year in additional revenue in the future, it's money well-spent.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.