Comprehensive Plan to bring hockey to East Texas
Throughout the last few days, I have asked myriad residents of East Texas "Why would a CHL team not work in Tyler, Longview, or somewhere in between?" The response invariably came back: lack of fan interest. I responded that once people were introduced to the sport, they would see how fun it is to be a fan. But then it dawned on me: hockey's not that fun to watch in an empty arena. We need SOME people who understand the game to be in the area. For the few of you reading this from Smoaky.com, by SOME I mean more than 20. Therefore, the first step in my Comprehensive Plan to Bring CHL Hockey to East Texas is to introduce some avid hockey fans into the area. How do we go about this?
Tyler and Longview will have to work together on this, and will have to assis DelWebb (http://www.delwebb.com/Default.aspx) or some company like them to buy up land for a large enough retirement-age development to house anywhere from 10,000-15,000 people. My goal is to create an entire community between Tyler and Longview that resembles the numerous Sun Cities across the Sun Belt, especially the original one in Arizona (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_City%2C_Arizona), but on about a half-scale of the original.
Once this place gets under construction, MARKET IT in the North and Northeast as well as in Canada. My target areas would be Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, and any place North of the border. The retirees in these areas often move to Florida due to it's "good weather" but Texas offers a similar winter climate (though once or twice it does get cold). Plus, East Texas is much prettier than inland Florida, and the Florida coast is almost full already. The time to act on this is NOW.
Once the development is well underway, Gregg and Smith counties should coordinate a 50-percent-each-shared-cost project to build a regional fairgrounds similar to the Golden Triangle's Ford Park (official site http://www.fordparktx.com/, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Park). This park will be located straddling the county line as close to the Sun City-type development as possible. Sun City residents will receive free transportation to and from the games, and retirees 60+ will receive discounts on tickets.
The economic impact of a regional fairgrounds would be huge, with the visitors it would draw. Plus, add a once-yearly Arklatex Fair, and you bring in even more money.
Leaders in Gregg and Smith counties, are you listening? It can be done!