Friday, December 16, 2011

Revenge on India-noplace? Why bother!

Personally, I have always regarded Indianapolis as being the equivalent, municipality-wise, of Peoria or Des Moines, Iowa.

Small cities that may be nice places to visit. But does anybody seriously want to “live” there?

INDIANAPOLIS: A place to send postcards from, not to

SO EXCUSE ME for thinking it a tad ridiculous that some Chicago-area officials are thinking in terms of “revenge” against Indianapolis for having the unmitigated gall to think they could get the Chicago Board of Trade or the Mercantile Exchange to relocate to the Hoosier capital city. Maybe these people also want to target Los Angeles for "stealing" away Playboy magazine?

Crain’s Chicago Business used its website to report about efforts by the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau to create a new sports commission – one of whose duties will be to try to get some of the athletic events that now take place in Indianapolis to move to Chicago.

Snatching away those events that give Indianapolis its occasion bits of national attention when they appear in the datelines of sports stories just sounds so trivial. Heck, I wish our officials would spend as much time trying to draw business interests to Illinois for economic reasons, rather than trying to create a political grudge match between the two states.

If anything, I can’t help but think that such an effort by Illinois does nothing more than reduce our fine state to the level of Indiana – which has had its “Illinoyed” marketing campaign that has tried to cherry-pick assorted Illinois companies into moving to Indiana, based on the idea that Indiana will ask less of them in taxes than Illinois does.
Would an LA magazine highlight a Cubs ballgirl?

OF COURSE, INDIANA also will provide them with less in benefits than Illinois, which to me confirms the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

Had the commodities exchanges actually relocated from the South Loop to Indianapolis, it would have been a public relations coup for the Hoosier politicos. But it didn’t happen, because our General Assembly eventually got its act together politically and passed those assorted tax breaks giving the exchanges $100 million in financial benefits.

Even though the supporters of the tax breaks argue that all they really did was changed Illinois law to reflect the realities of the 21st Century where many commodities transactions are done electronically – rather than in the trading pits.

It just would have been too much of a change in the culture of those commodities exchanges to physically relocate their operations to a city whose only day of international significance is the one around Memorial Day weekend when the automobiles race round-and-round the track for a few hours.

THE IDEA THAT we now have to “avenge” ourselves against Indiana is just too ridiculous a concept to take seriously.

Perhaps it is because I was born and raised in the part of Chicago where Indiana isn’t an esoteric concept, but is that smelly industrial area (the oil refineries in Whiting, Ind.?) located just a few blocks to the east.

I look into Indiana and don’t see a thing they truly offer that we don’t already have here in Illinois. In fact, considering the lack of respect that Lake County, Ind., gets from the rest of its state (including the Indianapolis political scene), I often have thought that the best thing that county could do is accept the fact that it is part of metropolitan Chicago and join Illinois.

It makes more sense than those people on the Springfield political scene who would like Chicago to break off into its own state. If we did, we’d be a more significant state than anything offered up by Indiana or the rest of Illinois, particularly because that county (in many ways) IS the most significant part of Indiana. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon, no matter how much ideologues rant and rage in favor of the concept.

I’M ALSO REALISTIC enough to know that there are some of these “events” that Chicago officials want to dream of snatching for our city that aren’t going to come here – in large part because the people who put on those events like the smaller scale of an Indianapolis – where all the out-of-towners can stay in a hotel located within walking distance of the stadium/arena where it is being held.

That is the attraction for the Big Ten to play its end-of-season men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis, rather than at the United Center.

If those event-goers were interested in doing things other than the specific event, then Chicago could top any municipality. Perhaps we just offer too many distractions, just like those conventions that would rather be held in Orlando, Fla., or Las Vegas, Nev. A place you visit, then return home from.

A time-filling trip to DisneyWorld or a real-life Vegas casino is simpler to comprehend than squiring around Chicago – although the latter would be a more worthwhile use of one’s time AND a more memorable experience.

SO WHILE I’LL wish these Illinois officials some luck in terms of bringing events to Chicago, I don’t think their efforts are essential to prove that the Second City is a more worthwhile place than any other Midwestern municipality.

Because about the only time that Indianapolis ever trumps Chicago is on those occasions when the AAA-level Indianapolis Indians play better-quality baseball than our Chicago Cubs.

Which is all too often!


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