That’s A Wrap, Part One

. December 17, 2019.

What a difference a decade makes

That was the decade that was!

As the decade of the twenty teens draws to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we are. Perhaps that will provide a glimpse of where we are going.
The ten years in the rear view mirror have been, as the novelist put it, the best of times and the worst of times. Not necessarily in that order.

Whatevs, here’s our retrospective of the past ten annums, or what we like to call,

The More Things Change, The More Things Stay The Same.

Oh, that golden era, the waning of two thousand and nine and the dawning of two thousand ten. The He Who Shall Not Be Named era of City Politics was fast drawing to a close. The Boo Ben Konop era was in its heyday, becoming deeply embedded in American culture. And the T-Town economy was about to fall off a cliff.

Today? The decade is in its twilight, twenty nineteen fades off into the sunset, and twenty twenty wriggles into the birth canal. He Who Shall Not Be Named rarely rears his bald pate these days.

Ben Konop is long gone to a patronage job in DC, and Boo Ben Konop is only a memory available in internet searches. The T-Town economy has recovered, and with it, full city coffers. Positive changes, all.

Here are some other things that have changed dramatically over the past ten years. And not all for the better.

The old Toledo Jeep Plant site.

By late twenty oh nine, the site of the former jeep plant off Central Ave was an old gate, a lonely smoke stack, and piles of weed strewn rubble. An eyesore visible to thousands of travelers daily off 75 North. Today, it is the site of a bustling industrial park, employing hundreds of workers, thanks to the foresight and hard of work of the Toledo Port Authority and others. Shows what vision and venture capital can do.

The Spitzer, Nicholas, and Madison Buildings.

Ooof. Ten years ago these three iconic buildings at the corner of Madison and Huron downtown were definitely in their nadir. Fifth Third Bank was just in the process of moving from the Nicholas to the old O-I headquarters on the river front. The last few tenants hung on in the Spitzer, recently purchased by investors from California. The Madison had a tenant or two left in the basement.
Now all sit empty. Attempts to recapture the Spitzer have failed. The facade of the Madison has been torn off, leaving it a torn and tattered hulk. The Nicholas remains empty. The corner is a blight in an otherwise rejuvenating downtown.

The Toledo economy. Twenty oh nine was the beginning of the tail spin. By twenty ten, the Jeep and GM plants were on shut down, GM and Chrysler had recently declared bankruptcy. The global financial sector was frozen, and tax revenues flowing into the City plummeted.

The City scrambled to balance its budget, robbing the capital improvement fund and City unions to pay Paul and otherwise playing financial shell games to do so. Critical infrastructure was left to crumble as the City tried to meet basic service needs in the short run.

Now, the large T-Town employers are at full employment. City tax collection is at an all-time high. Roads are being rebuilt, and the City water treatment plant is undergoing hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades. Profligate spending means the City is still robbing the capital improvement fund to pay Paul, but Wade has a solution to that. Raise taxes. Say what what?

The Toledo sports scene.

In late twenty oh nine, the Toledo Walleye were in the early stages of their inaugural season downtown. The Mud Hens were not far removed from back to back league championships. And the UT Rocket football team was just coming out of the doldrums of the end of the Toledo Tom Amstutz era and into the glory of the Tim Beckman-Matt Campbell years.

The Walleye’s first season was mediocre. The team made the playoffs but lost in the first round. The team’s fortunes went quickly south from there, to the point in twenty thirteen-fourteen where the team finished with an abysmal forty four points. From there it was a blast to prominence. The very next season the Walleye finished with a league-best one hundred and seven points. Coaches Derek Lalonde and now Dan Watson have built the team into perennial contenders for conference and league championships.

The Mud Hens have gone the other direction, languishing in mediocrity for much of the past decade. It hasn’t affected attendance, of course, because of the beauty of Fifth Third Field and the wizardry of GM Joe Napoli and his crew. Hope springs eternal, and next spring fans will again hope for a good year at the ol’ ballpark.

And the Rockets? They spent most of the decade as a force to be reckoned with under Coaches Beckman and Campbell, not just in the MAC but nationally. But the decade can’t end quick enough for our hometown FBS heroes. In this era when every mediocre five hundred team makes the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl or some such monstrosity, this year’s Rockets team wasn’t even invited to the toilet bowl.

There are currently thirty nine bowl games nationally, meaning seventy eight teams get invited to bowl games. There were seventy nine bowl eligible teams this year, meaning only one was left out the bowls. Not Georgia Southern, they’re in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. Nope, it’s your Toledo Rockets.

Hey, the past decade was a big one. Too big for just one column. We’ll ring in the New Year with Part Two of That’s a Wrap in the next issue. For now, on to the roaring twenties, and as always, be safe out there.