The following is from an article by ROLDO BARTIMOLE, 3-3-99, Cleveland Free Times:
"... Dick Jacobs, worth only about a half billion dollars, recently wanted all the field lighting in Jacobs Field replaced at Gateway's expense. It wasn't up to American League standards, he claimed. The cost: $73,000. Gateway officials balked, and the issue remains unresolved.
However, Gateway did find that Jacobs has been using the entire battery of stadium lights when he rents out the stadium's Terrace Club for parties. Partygoers enjoy the view of the field as if a game were in progress and pay for the privilege. You'll remember that the Terrace Club was financed by taxpayers at a cost of $7.2 million. Jacobs collects all revenue from the fancy 900-seat restaurant, which also pays no property taxes.
No matter how short the party, the lights must remain on for at least four hours. That's the duration recommended by the provider. Less time would cause more wear on the light bulbs.
Jacobs is claiming that rental of the Terrace Club for a party is a proper baseball related use, thus he doesn't even pay for the wear on the lights, though he collects all the revenue. ..."
"More Light! More Money!
Bulbs illuminate Jacobs. never-ending want for cash
BY ROLDO BARTIMOLE, Cleveland Free Times, 3-25-99
How grasping can you get?
Maybe the Cleveland Foundation can finance a sociological study of Cleveland's wealthy sports entrepreneurs to find out what makes them so rapacious when they have so much.
Possibly, if we find the key to what makes these individuals so predatory, we wouldn't have to worry about poverty. There'd be so much more to go around if they didn't hoard everything.
The survey could be called the Jacobs ... Jackal Study.
The case history study I would start with involves the light bulbs that illuminate Jacobs Field. You might remember that Indians owner Dick Jacobs wanted all of the lights for the stadium replaced. The bill, of course, he didn't want anything to do with. That was Gateway's department.
It came to light, however, that Jacobs had been casual, even liberal, in his use of the stadium lights for selfish purposes. For example, Dick liked to have the entire stadium illuminated when there was a party at the huge $7.2 million restaurant built for him, the Terrace Club. It was an added sales point to draw business from other downtown restaurants.
Jacobs even had all the bulbs lit up to show off the field when some special event-like the Cavalier opening game-was playing next door at Gund Arena. An ego thing. Why not advertise yourself on someone else's dime?
Even so, Jacobs decided that he needed all the light bulbs replaced, blaming the American League. One of his officials reported that the Jacobs Field lights weren. t bright enough to meet league standards.
Well, Gateway, as it usually does with these robber barons, gave in half-way. They decided that half of the bulbs would be replaced. As a capital expense, Gateway pays.
There are some 650 bulbs, and Jacobs feels that $35,657 would do the trick for replacement.
What happens to the old bulbs? I asked Gateway Economic Development Corp. Chairman Joe Marinucci.
Oh, Mr. Jacobs takes them.
Now what would you think Dickie would want with some old bulbs?
You really don't have to guess. He can make a little-or a lot-of chump change.
If you look in the team's catalogue or in one of its highly lucrative merchandising stores, you will find the bulbs are being sold.
"Jacobs Field Ballpark Light Bulbs," says the catalogue with a photo showing the banks of lights above the scoreboard.
"In keeping with its image of an Urban Ballpark both architecturally and aesthetically, Jacobs Field's vertical light towers were designed to match the smokestacks of Cleveland's industrial zone as well as the high-rise office buildings in Cleveland's growing downtown area," it states.
And now, Dick tells us in his catalogue, "You can keep a little bit of the excitement of the 1998 baseball season forever with your own Jacobs Field Ballpark Light Bulb mounted on a sturdy wood base." So goes the pitch.
Gateway gives the bulbs to Jacobs. But Jacobs is no fool. He sells them to "fans." For $200! ...
Let's say he can sell only 25 a year. During the present 25-year lease, that could be 625 over the lease. If the price remains $200, that would be another gift of another $125,000 in revenue.
That should be enough for a few nights at Johnny's Downtown, Jacobs. favorite watering hole.
If you think Dick Jacobs is just a hardhearted guy, you'd be mistaken.
Dick informed Gateway that he was going to give away 100 bleacher tickets to inner-city children for 60 games next year. Now that's philanthropic!
Well, not totally. With Dick there's always a catch.
Gateway had to agree to allow Jacobs to make 600 extra seats, that had been "temporary," permanent forever hereafter.
So his charity came at a price.
That means he can sell 500 seats more each and every home game. Let's see what he gets out of it.
If there are 80 games a year (and if sellouts continue), he will sell 500 seats per game, or 40,000 extra tickets a season. At $10 a ticket that's $400,000 more a year, and with 20 years left on his lease, that's $8 million. Whee!
So let's help the poor inner-city children (and take a tax credit, no doubt).
But to understand-sociologically, that is-how these robber barons think, there's one more twist.
Since the team is enjoying 100-percent sellout success, it would mean that Gateway would get a $1.25 for every seat sold over the mark of 2.5 million fans attracted to Jacobs Field, according to the rent schedule.
Jacobs asked for-and Gateway gave-the right to forgo the tariff on the 100 tickets that will "charitably" go to those poor, inner-city children Dick so empathetically wants to help. In other words, Jacobs was worried that he would have to pay the $1.25 tariff on the 6,000 tickets he was giving away. He asked that he be relieved of this terrific burden.
Gateway, always too generous with these scoundrels, gave him permission.
Jacobs'savings this year: $7,500.
You don't want to be too charitable with your munificence when helping poor children, particularly when you have a regular sucker on the line.
Gateway's board of directors has once again become too lax in its dealings with Jacobs and particularly with the Gund brothers.
You cannot deal reasonably with jackals who can't think of anything more than increasing the bottom line. ... "
Roldo Bartimole publishes the newsletter Point of View. He can be reached at email@example.com
Copyright © 1999, Cleveland Free Times (Hummingbird Press)