Friday, February 17, 2012

Power Struggle

While the headlines might lead you to believe the move of the WIAA basketball tournaments to the Resch Center in Green Bay is a done deal--there is a clause in the Board of Control decision that still leaves the door open for the games to stay at the Kohl Center.  And in that clause we will find out who is the "King of Madison".

In this corner, you have Madison Mayor Paul Soglin--the former "Boy Mayor" who keeps returning to the office to preserve his "vision" for the modern Utopia that he believes he has created in the capital city.  He can't believe the WIAA would want to leave Madison--because doesn't everyone in the state love having to navigate all the one-way streets around the campus, the lack of on site parking and having to book a minimum of two nights at a hotel--even if your team loses in the semi-finals?

In the other corner you have the current holder of the crown, UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez--who believes he turned a hippie-infested loserville into one of the the best sports cities in the US--already making hundreds of millions of dollars for Madison businesses in the process.  Alvarez titled his auto-biography Don't Flinch--so you know that he is not going to be intimidated easily.

Soglin has paired up with the desperate Madison Visitors and Convention Bureau to get campus-area hotels to drop their two-night minimum stay requirement for State weekends (although rate caps have not been agreed to yet).  He's also made the lame comparison to death of the Badger State Games after they moved from Madison to the Fox Cities (missing the important fact that the Tourney has built-in participation since schools aren't going to say "We don't want to play for a state title in Green Bay").

Alvarez has already made a few concessions--giving up on hosting an eventual Big Ten Hockey Tournament--but I cannot see him commiting those two March weekends to the WIAA long-term.  And really, why should he?  The Kohl Center is a University of Wisconsin facility--not a city of Madison building--and what is best for the UW Athletic Department MUST be his top priority.  It should be seen as an act of benevolence that he even opens the doors and turns on the lights for the high school kids.

The Board of Control did not set a deadline for the UW to capitulate to its wishes--but I'm guessing that Barry should expect daily calls and emails from Mayor Paul.  Will that influence the current "King of Madison" to cede some of his power?  I doubt it.

It looks like fans can look forward to lunch at Kroll's West before or after those State Tournement games.

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