Juxtaposition of the day. First, from the world of sports:
Hoosier Hysteria is back -- and Indiana University is the big winner even before the first tip-off in a tournament game.
The resurgence of IU's men's basketball team the last two seasons has driven an increase in donations, boosted royalties for IU-licensed merchandise and led to the highest number of student season-ticket basketball packages sold in three decades, The Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
IU's reversal of fortune makes the struggles under sanctions imposed by the NCAA for violations under former coach Kelvin Sampson seem a distant memory for many fans.
And from the state-approved gambling front:
Despite plummeting tax revenues from Indiana’s casino industry, key state officials remain unwilling to gamble on any expansion of the state’s gaming options.
Facing increasing competition from gambling in neighboring states, the annual revenue Indiana collects from its 11 casinos and two racinos has dropped by about $46 million over the past three years. The state collected $829 million in gaming revenues in 2012, a number projected to continue to decline.
If you're going to be successful in a business, you really need to be competitive.
That means matching Las Vegas. Build huge hotels, and comp rooms for big gamblers. Include fabulous shopping, music halls with name performers, and some inexpensive restaurants, like the ones that offered a chicken dinner for $1.99, whose memory lives on in the cry, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner." And relaxed enforcement of laws against prostitution.
Las Vegas is in one of two counties in Nevada that do NOT have legalized prostitution. And the others don't allow anything except prostitution in a licensed whorehouse. In Las Vegas, though, if a girl maintains her health, maintains her appearance, and treats customers nicely, nobody hassles her. If she is shabby in appearance, or doesn't use health safeguards, or she pulls the badger game on johns, she is tossed into the hoosegow, and warned to stay out of town.
I've thought for a while that since they aren't building airports any more - Have Denver and Atlanta been the only ones in the last 50 years? - that it'd be smart to build a passenger air hub someplace like Elkhart. The idea would be to have people fly in, switch planes, then fly directly to their destination, like FedEx does with Memphis. By building huge in the first place, there'd be lots of runways, lots of terminal space, and any airline that wanted to move their hub there would be able to.
You make a point of having few roads to the highway, little parking except for employee lots, so as to keep it a transfer airport; locals would start out at Baer Field so as to avoid hassles.
But you'd build hotels there for people wanting to catch a little sleep, build your own version of Branson there, build an amusement park to equal Mall of America, build a variety of elegant restaurants and saloons, offer high-end jewelry stores, art galleries, clothing stores, etc. And a casino makes sense, too. Some people would fly in to vacation or honeymoon at the airport, some would stay overnight to have fun on the way back from Aunt Tillie's funeral.
Regular airports get most of their income from parking lots and renting space in the terminal. Landing fees are a pittance. They don't want thru traffic that clogs the sky and earns them a reputation for hassles and delays. An airport intended solely for connecting flights would help them - and heaven knows, the folks of Elkhart would like having lots of new jobs, many of them high-paying jobs.
The biggest problem would be siting. People aren't going to sell their homes and/or farms, because they have a sentimental attachment to them that makes them more valuable to the current owner than any potential buyer. And you'd probably want 2 640-acre sections of land to hold all the facilities, and buying land later has proven to be horribly expensive for other airports. But the Corps of Engineers built a lot of reservoirs, especially in southern Indiana, and they generally were able to get the land they wanted without suing for eminent domain.
The feds normally pay to build and improve runways, and you can have private enterprise building those hotels, restaurants and shops, on land leased from the airport authority. Sounds like a reasonable use of local government money, kicking things off with seed money, and the increased employment would bring in lots of COIT revenue. (I imagine the airport authority would be wanting to reinvest all their income for years to come. Hasn't Parkview had construction contractors on site continuously since the 1950s?)