Downtown continues growth

December 14, 2009

Gordon Buchanan

gwbuchan@indiana.edu

BLOOMINGTON GROWS DESPITE HARSH ECONOMIC TIMES

Bloomington has been a diamond in the rough for investors this year. With multiple downtown projects in progress, and more in the works, Bloomington’s economic progress looks to be in full swing despite Indiana being one of the hardest hit states during the recession.

Bloomington is one of the most economically stable cities in Indiana. At 4.3 percent, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the state.

With Indiana University anchoring the downtown and bringing a constantly rotating supply of new residents to the city, the city has an advantage over other Indiana towns that do not have a college.

“Bloomington is resilient to an extent,” said Adam Waison, the Assistant director for economic growth and sustainability for the City of Bloomington. “This is an ageless community that wouldn’t be the same without the school.”

Waison said that Bloomington is able to keep the downtown area vibrant and growing because the school allows for amenities that other cities do not have. The amount of upscale apartments and restaurants in the downtown is massive compared to nearby communities such as Ellettsville or Martinsville.

Bloomington attracts more than simply students. The cost of living in the city is 12.5 percent lower than the national average. This could allow for more people to have available spending money, and in turn going out into the community and stimulating the economy.

As a member of the city council, Steve Volan has a hand in most projects that are constructed. He has seen many projects fail, including the famed Hotel Indigo project that cause much debate in the local building codes and affects council decisions to this day.

“We learned our lesson with Hotel Indigo,” Volan said. “Now we are much more careful when we give projects the greenlight.”

Volan said the city is excited about many of the new projects, especially the new bus terminal hoped to ease concerns with public transit.

“The city is excited about many of these projects that have begun to take form,” Volan said. “New construction is one of the many ways that the City of Bloomington hopes to improve the overall impression of downtown,” he said.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE

The city of Bloomington has long been a city with the vision and determination to grow. It has flourished with new construction and a constant flow of foot traffic.

“The downtown area has been expanding for years,” said Talisha Coppock.

Coppock is the executive director for Downtown Bloomington, an organization that works with the city government to improve the downtown in multiple ways. Coppock said that she and her constituents work to bring forth a vision to the downtown in order to promote growth and vibrancy within the city.

Coppock said the driving force behind Bloomington’s vibrant downtown is Indiana University and the large number of residents it brings into the city.

“It has a stable presence,” she said of the university. “Having so many residents downtown allows us to have a variety of businesses. It also helps other ventures such as restaurants and bars.”

However, Coppock said that many people resist expansion of the city in order to keep what they refer to as a “small town feeling.” She said the city’s goal is not to completely change Bloomington but rather improve it within a certain style and vision in order to keep the charm that makes it so appealing.

“Most of what we have been working on is renovation,” she said. “However, we feel it is important to keep growing too.

DOWN AT THE DOG

“It has a stable presence,” she said of the university. “Having so many residents downtown allows us to have a variety of businesses. It also helps other ventures such as restaurants and bars.”

-Talisha Coppock

One of the major public works projects set to begin is a new bus depot located at the old Royal Dog location at the corner of Walnut and Third. Coppock said that as Bloomington grows, the need for available public transportation expands as well. Thanks to a generous amount of public funding, that expansion is entire possible here in Bloomington.

Lew May, the Director of Bloomington Transit, said that the project will expand the capacity of the bus station by over 50%.  May said the $1.5 million project creates a new downtown hub that will help Bloomington improve its overall efficiency in moving from place to place.

“This project is a real step forward for Bloomington Transit,” May said. “We are very excited to have a proper terminal for the amount of passengers we carry everyday.”

LENDING A HELPING HAND

One of the most anticipated projects will be the addition that Middle Way House is making at their Lincoln Street location called “The Rise”. A transitional house for abused women, The Rise provides a place for women to be safe and start over. Coppock talked about the importance of Middle Way House for the Bloomington community.

“It is a very innovative place here,” Coppock said. “It is an important resource and helps local women in a great way.”

Advertisements

Best of the Best

December 3, 2009

The Indianapolis Colts are the best team in the NFL right now. Hands down. Anyone that argues this point shall be exiled into football purgatory and removed of the credentials “football fan.” It is preposterous to say that any team (even the 11-0 Saints) are better than the Colts. Let’s peer into some statistics:

The two undefeated teams, the Saints of New Orleans and the Colts of Indianapolis, are almost completely evenly matched in terms of defense. They are both middle of the road teams that can make some stops when they have to, and also blow it when they shouldn’t. Both teams have strengths and weaknesses on defense. The Colts are ranked third in scoring defense, while the Saints are further down at 15th. The Saints do have the advantage in the ever important category of turnovers though. They lead the league with 32 overall takeaways, whereas the Colts have only taken the opponent’s ball 21 times.

The defense, however, is not what sets the Colts apart from the Saints. The offensive juggernaut that is the Colts offense has been one of the top squads in the NFL for the last 8 years. Year in and year out Peyton Manning and his ever revolving supporting cast put up gaudy numbers that normally translate into wins for the team. This year Indy leads the league in passing, with Manning throwing for over 3,300 yards and 25 touchdowns through 11 games. The Saints have their own version of the “greatest show on turf” led by rising star Drew Brees. Though right out of Purdue Brees was not considered an elite NFL passer, he made considerable strides after being traded to the Saints in 2006. Now in his third season under the Saints’ system, Brees has himself thrown for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Looking at the stats this year, both teams seem to be as evenly matched as could be possible. The difference, and my reasoning for the Colts being the best team comes down to one simple factor: experience. The Colts have been an elite team in the league for the last five years, and have a Superbowl ring to prove it. They have shown a level of consistency that is rarely seen in professional sports. The Saints are just coming into their first “great” season and though their accomplishments should not be diminished, it must be understood that they have proved nothing. No matter what a regular season record might be, it comes down to the playoffs an who is the strongest team. The Colts have proven they can win in December and January against the toughest of opponents and against the toughest odds. The Saints, despite their talent and insanely smart coach in Sean Payton, have everything to prove and nothing to back up their claims to the best team in the league. Until playoff time rolls around, and both teams stay undefeated, there is really only one logical choice for the best team in the NFL, and let’s just say they’re not playing in “The Big Easy.”

Colts Continue Unbeaten Streak

November 23, 2009

The Colts are up to their same old shenanigans, and continued their unbeaten streak to 19 regular season games. Pushing their record to 10-0 the Colts have shown that they are able to beat all varieties of competition. They beat the upstart Houston Texans and their high flying offense. They beat the New England Patriots and their prolific offense and stifling defense. Now, after Sunday’s 17-15 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts have shown that they can play a slower, more physical type of game against a bigger, stronger opponent. Peyton Manning played what to him would be considered a below standard game. With one touchdown and two interceptions he played only well enough to win the game. The defense came through in the clutch and now are ranked as the number one defense in the league. This is in stark contrast to how the Colts normally win, which is to score a lot of points and hope the defense can make one or two vital stops. Now with history in the balance, the Colts will try to continue their unbeaten streak and push to be the second 16-0 team in the last three years.

The Meaning of Sport

November 10, 2009

Sport in society has long been an outlet for those of us who feel like blowing off some steam and feeling the sweet nectar of victory, as well as the agony of defeat. Sport has ingrained itself into our culture like no other activity in history. Ever since the first games were played in the ancient Greek or Mayan civilizations sport has been revered above almost all other leisure activities. In America baseball used to dominate the headlines, but football has slowly crept up in its blindspot. Though baseball will probably never be beaten in overall attendance with the amount of games played, football has created more customs and traditions than almost any sport in the U.S.

Tailgating is one of the most well known traditions associated with football. The act of going to a game early and preparing a spot to relax and eat and drink with friends and family in preparation for the big game is a classic example of an activity that was born of sport.

Sport also builds a sense of community within the cities they play. The Indianapolis Colts have created a sense of community that I touched on in my last blog with their charitable work and appearances around the city. Just the sight of a player in a restaurant or the autograph after a game can make the day of the diehard fan. I am reminded of when the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2006, and though it was a blistery -10 with the wind chill the day of thousands of people came out and supported their team with a parade around the city (myself included.) To me that is sport: devotion and desire.

Colts Win Despite Porous defense and Spotty Offense

November 3, 2009

The Colts 18-14 victory on Sunday proved something about the team: that they can win without playing well. They were sloppy at best on offense and the defense didn’t fare much better. San Francisco scored more touchdowns, had more sacks and had a 100% red zone efficiency rate. Peyton Manning was inaccurate and looked more uncomfortable in the pocket than he has all year. His budding synergy with the young receivers looked broken and ineffective on this day. Much of this credit belongs to the players and coaches of the 49ers. Their defensive game plan to get pressure on Manning was effective, as that is really the only way to get Peyton off his game. This is the strategy employed by most of the defenses to have beaten him multiple times (The Chargers, Patriots or Steelers) and the 49ers were able to succeed, mostly. They were not, however, effective in stopping the quarterback play of Colts running back Joeseph Addai. Addai’s 22 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter put the Colts ahead for good and won the game. It is rare that a trick play like that will be the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. It was all in a day’s work for the Colts though, who run their record to 7-0 for the fourth time in five seasons.

Colts set a standard on and off the field

October 20, 2009

Professional athletes are held to a higher standard than the average citizen. They are expected to give back to the community, and are almost demanded to donate portions of their massive wealth to charity. Most players have their own charities to help out a cause of their choice and the Indianapolis Colts are no different. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is the biggest giver on the team, with his PeyBack Foundation giving 1,424,631 dollars in 2005. Center Jeff Saturday is a charitable player as well. Hosting his third annual “Superbowl for Saturday’s Kids” yesterday, he has been able to raise thousands of dollars for The People’s Burn Foundation and “Kids voice in Indiana,” an advocacy group that protects Indiana children in the court system.

These are just two of the outstanding athletes and citizens that are a part of the Colts organization. Marln Jackson, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders and Reggie Wayne are other players who all have their own charities. The Administration of the Colts looks for players, especially when they are drafting, who have high character and who are going to be quality citizens in the community. It is less of a added benefit to this organization as it is a requirement. They are a team that plays the game the right way and lives their lives in the right way.


Peyton Manning as the Colt’s GOAT?

October 13, 2009

For this week I will veer from kissing the proverbial butt of the 2009 Colts team to delve into a subject many Colts fans could scream and cry and end up curled up on the floor in the fetal posistion over. I am going to do a top ten players list from the Peyton Manning Era, which is from the year he was drafted (1998) to now. I will base my choices on three categrories:

1. How did the team play when this player was on it, and how did the team play if he was injured/not available?

2. What are the statistics of this player? Does he hold any records? Did he ever make a Pro Bowl or All Pro Team?

3. Was this player revered by teammates, coaches and fans alike?

THE LIST

10. Gary BrackettBrackett makes this list because of his versatility, his durability the fact that every year he is still the starting middle line backer for the Colts. Every year fans and pundits talk of his lack of size and bulk, his lack of speed and the fact that they could replace him with a younger player. Teammates love him, coaches praise him and he constantly produces for the team and holds down the middle of the Colts defense. After earning the starting job from bust Rob Morris in 2005, Brackett has made a hard earned name for himself on the team and has helped them have some of the team’s historically best seasons.

9. Bob SandersThis is the first problem many Colts fans may have with this list. They will say, “Bob Sanders is the best player on the defense, why is he behind so many other players?” First, he is not the best player on the defense, he is the most talented. They are different. He has all the potential in the world, and when he is on the field he is an unstoppable force and missile flying at opposing players. That is when he is ON the field. Most of the time he is hurt and players in sweats don’t impose much fear in the other team. He makes the list because he has had a few amazing seasons, including the defensive MVP in 2007. But until he learns to stay healthy for an entire season he will continue to hover at the bottom of this list.

8. Reggie WayneWayne is a player I would really like to put higher on this list but cant simply because of all the great players that have played in Indy over the last ten years. He is now the full fledged star receiver for the team and he has not ceased to produce for the team since being a first round draft pick out of Miami in 2001. He makes spectacular catches and gives back to the community. He is a favorite of both teammates and the media. Plus he continues to put up outstanding statistics and regularly makes the Pro Bowl.

7. Marshal FaulkHaving been retired from the NFL for three years now, it is easier to look back and discuss this former All-Star and his career in context to his time with the Colts. With only one year spent with the team in the era I am discussing, it might have been more fair to include a different player in this spot. Faulk, however, was one of the best running backs to play the game and it would not have been fair to exclude him. He helped Peyton Manning to get comfortable in his first season, a dreadful year in which they went 3-13. The following year the team traded Faulk to the Rams where he won a Super Bowl in 2001. The Colts did get a first round pick for Faulk which eventually became the team’s even more impressive running back, Edgerine James.

6. Edgerine James “The Edge” as he was commonly referred to as, was the best runner in Colts history. A Pro Bowl player in all but two seasons with the Colts, James has gained over 12,000 yards in a career that has taken him to three separate teams since being drafted in the first round by the Colts in 1999. He was a versatile player, known for his ability not only to run but to catch the ball out of the backfield and to block extremely well in pass protection. He was not happy near the end of his career, as the Colts moved to more of a multiple running back setup, and eventually signed a free agent contract with the Cardinals, ending his career in Indy.

5. Tarik Glenn Tarik Glenn was one of the most important, and overlooked, pieces of the Colts success over the last decade. Starting 154 out of 154 possible games in his career starting in 1997, Glenn was the protector of Peyton Manning’s blind side for some of the teams best (and worst) seasons. He was a All-Star caliber player his entire career, and was rewarded with an invite to the Pro Bowl almost every year. When he retired after the Super Bowl victory in 2006, there was a giant (i.e. 6’5 335 pound) hole to fill. Luckily the team drafted a good young player in Tony Ugoh to take the spot, but Glenn will be remembered for his quality service to the team as well as his durability.

4. Dwight FreeneyDwight Freeney is know as one of the scariest players off the edge in the league. His blinding speed and powerful spin moves are key to the defensive scheme of the Colt’s defense. He is the second player of this list to have won a NFL Defensive MVP and he makes the Pro Bowl every year he plays most of the games. He had one season of serious injury, but overall has stayed healthy enough to produce and contribute. He puts fear in opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, and he is the face of the Indy defense.

3. Marvin HarrisonAs the third leading receiver in terms of yards and catches in NFL history, it is safe to say Marvin Harrison is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He and Peyton Manning are the single greatest quarterback-reciever tandem. Ever. He was constantly productive, always made the probowl and in a leaugue of showboating, loudmouth wide recievers he was the quietest man on the field. His play was always respected and it is sad that he was not able to reach a deal with the Colts before the season this year, being forced to retire. He will be remembered though for his time with the Colts and will undoubtedly be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2015.

2. Jeff SaturdayAs the center of one of the league’s best offensive lines, Saturday has become an unassuming star in this league. Though many offensive linemen don’t get the credit they deserve, Saturday has earned a spot among the stars of the league. His tenacious play and quality play calling and audibles on the line has made the offense as good as it is. He is one of Peyton Manning’s confidants on the team, and is his second in command on the field. The team would not be the same without him running the line and snapping the ball to Manning. Rewarded with Pro Bowl spots the last 6 years, Saturday is now getting the credit he deserves.

1. Peyton ManningHow can anyone argue that Manning is not the Greatest of All Time (GOAT)? With his 2006 Superbowl victory, he cemented his place in the annals of NFL history. Barring a catastrophic and career ending injury he will hold almost every major passing record in history. He has yet to miss a start, playing 181 out of 181 total games. He is a coach on the field, making everyone around him better and raising the level of play of any team he is on. He has three MVP awards, with no sign of stopping his chances of winning more. He is loved by players, coaches, the media and the entire nation. He is charitable and involved in the community, and he is always available for autographs. He will go down as the greatest Colt ever, and will be the face of the franchise long after his playing days.

Finding a Diamond in the Rough

October 6, 2009

The Colts (4-0), who lead Jacksonville (2-2) and Houston (2-2) by two games in the division, hold a four-game lead on defending division champion Tennessee, which lost to Jacksonville Sunday. The Titans, who had the best record in the league last year, (see last years standings) are now 0-4 and looking like a very poor team. The Colts appear to have a wide open division and the chance to run away with it by season’s end. Robert Mathis and his 3.5 sacks were one of the keys of victory on Sunday.

Mathis has always been a good player, and as the bookend to all star Dwight Freeney, he has flown under the radar for a while. Coming out of such a small school (Alabama A&M) he was drafted late by the Colts, and they expected him to be another one of their late round steals. He has delivered with 53.5 sacks in his first six seasons. He is on his way to even bigger numbers this year with five sacks through four games.

The Colts routinely do this, find late round gems to fill out their defense. Sure they have stars like Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders and Marlin Jackson that were taken in the first two rounds, but after the first round bust of Rob Morris and the useless free agent signing of Corey Simon, the Colts now have a philosophy of filling their defense with underrated, normally undervalued players late in the draft.

Players like Freddy Keiaho and Antoine Bethea have been gems that were taken late in the draft that are now quality starters. Mathis is a key example. Ed Johnsosn, who started 16 games two seasons ago as a rookie, wasn’t even drafted as he signed a free agent rookie contract for the league minimum. Now he is a major contributor to a vastly improved defense. That is the Colts way. They are always finding value in players other teams overlook.

The train is beginning to roll for Colts

September 29, 2009

Football teams are like freight trains. When they get rolling, it becomes very hard to stop them. The New England Patriots were that way two years ago, going 18-o until finally succumbing to the New York Giants in the Superbowl. Even the Arizona Cardinals, last year’s NFC champions, were on a tear until they lost to the Steelers in the playoffs.

The Indianapolis Colts are looking like they could be capable of going on such a tear. With their 31-10 victory over the Cardinals Sunday, the Colts proved they can beat a tough team on the road, as well as proving that traveling long distances and operating on a short week is not a problem (the team traveled from Miami where they beat the Dolphins on Monday Night Football last week). They looked polished on offense, as the young wide receivers, most notably Pierre Garcon, are really playing solid football. On the defensive side, the front four of the defensive line are playing cohesively and efficiently, although the probable loss of Dwight Freeny with certainly be a blow.

The Colts are now looking more and more like a train that is just beginning to climb the hill. They are three games into a 16 game season, and despite a bevy of injuries are still clicking on all cylinders. This team looks poised to not only win their division, but actually make a deep run into the playoffs. There is no need to anoint them this early of course, but they are certainly looking like a great football team. If they can make it to November and December and still be getting better, they are almost certain to make it over the top of the hill and really get going. All they have to do is stay healthy and no immoveable object will be able to stop this unstoppable force.

Colts earn victory despite pourous defense,

September 22, 2009

The Colts had a great opportunity to show their new offensive players off on a national level Monday night. At least they could have if the offense would have been able  to get on the field some. The Colts offense only held the ball for 14 minutes and 11 seconds. If you were to look into the annals of NFL history, you would find that is the lowest time of possession for a winning team since 1977. In 32 years no team has ever had the ball so little and won the game.

This is just another day in the office for Peyton Manning and the Colts. The reigning NFL MVP had so little time on the field last night he barely had a chance to work up a sweat. The Colts defense was so poor against the Miami Dolphins bizarre Wildcat offense that they might as well have just walked Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams down the field like they were walking an old woman across the street.

Once again, the offense had to come to the rescue and bail out the defense in a tough game. The problem with relying on the offense so much is that when the team is playing a tough game against a tough team (the Patriots in December) the offense may not work. The heavy snow and raucous crowd of Gillette Statium might not be as easy to score points in as the sun and sand of Miami.

They did win the game though, and that is important to realize. The Colts go to 2-0 and their schedule over the next six weeks is fairly easy. That is until they get New England in week 9 and see the return of the eastern seaboard’s demi god Tom Brady. Until then though, the Colts can revel in a win and get to work fixing the problems on defense.