Tuesday, October 19, 2010

19 OCT 10: Springer Forward

When you close a downtown street during the afternoon rush hour, there had better be a good reason for it. Monday's reason in downtown Columbus was more than 11 million dollars' big. But those of you hoping for a big announcement about The Cheesecake Factory must remain disappointed....

The Springer Opera House announced a fund-raising drive to expand its facilities to seven additional downtown buildings. Well, it's not being called a fundraiser - it's a "capital campaign." Why would they confuse people with a name like that, two weeks before a state election?

(Perhaps it becomes a "capital campaign" when the amount being raised is in the millions. The "fund-raiser" is left for small-scale things - like what public radio stations are doing this week.)

Second Avenue was closed for the Monday afternoon announcement because the Springer Opera House issued thousands of invitations. Sad to say, your blog did NOT receive one. Perhaps it's because my idea of "Greater Tuna" is folding a can of it into macaroni and cheese.

The "Set the Stage" campaign will focus on the Springer Opera House's Theater Academy. It will have new classrooms, a special children's theater - and what the Ledger-Enquirer calls a "learning park" with greenspace. Of course, that will be perfect for budding performance artists....

Ron Anderson with the Springer Opera House told WTVM the expansion will help more young people learn valuable life skills. But he admitted: "The world doesn't need more actors...." This was about as close as Monday's announcement came to mentioning the November election.

Not much new construction is planned under this expansion, as existing buildings on First Avenue will be renovated. So instead of the traditional shovels for a groundbreaking, Springer Opera House leaders held hammers to "break a leg." You have to do that at a downtown theater now, since the KFC restaurant on Ninth Street is closed.

Springer Opera House executives wore hard hats with dots on them, as they posed to break a cast-iron leg. Talk about a missed opportunity! They didn't wear hounds tooth caps, to promote the current play "Bear Country."

But to be honest, the dots on the hard hats probably were in tribute to Dorothy "Dot" McClure. She's committed three million dollars to kick off the $11.5 million capital campaign. No matter how you look at it, Dot's a lot of money....

Long-time Columbus residents know Dot McClure led another campaign more than 40 years ago, to save the Springer Opera House from destruction. I always found it strange that she raised funds for that theatre, while her late husband Chuck railed against the National Endowment for the Arts in WRCG commentaries.

(In exchange for the big gift, the new children's theatre at the Springer will be named the McClure Theatre. Perhaps the plaque marking the Chuck McClure Building on 13th Avenue should be moved there, since PMB Broadcasting abandoned his old studios a couple of years ago.)

This expansion will add to what's become a downtown "theatre district" in Columbus. First there was the Springer Opera House. Then came the RiverCenter, the RiverPark campus of Columbus State University - and don't forget the occasional drama at the Government Center during Columbus Council meetings.

But I'm a bit concerned about the Springer Opera House gobbling up seven downtown buildings in this expansion. Doesn't this reduce the amount of available space for new business? And what about the U.S. Post Office, which is searching for a new downtown location right now? Is it going to wind up sharing space with a nightclub on Broadway?

-> Last week's "thrilling moment" in online poker now has us feeling robbed! Read the latest on this matter at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: The political campaign countdown reaches the "two-week warning" today. Georgia Attorney General candidate Sam Olens visited Columbus Monday night - and from what I could tell, the news media ignored him. Maybe if NAACP leaders had welcomed him to town, holding "Anyone But Hodges" banners....

U.S. Senate candidate Mike Thurmond visited the Roosevelt School in Warm Springs Monday. But he seemed to focus on the school, and didn't even wear a sticker promoting his campaign. It's one thing to be "low-key," but Thurmond's scraping the bottom of the piano.

As for Alabama, NBC News showed a new campaign commercial by Rep. Bobby Bright. The Democrat has joined a trend, by promising NOT to support Nancy Pelosi for another term as Speaker of the House. Somehow I think more voters would be impressed if Bright promised to vote for John Boehner - the House Republican Leader.

We'll be watching the made race to the polls. But now let's see what else made news, on what WLTZ now is calling "Manhunt Monday" (how sexist can they be?):

+ Columbus Police reported someone burglarized two KFC restaurants within hours of each other. This seems more finger-sticky bad, than finger-licking good....

(If the burglar planned a KFC "three-piece" night, he may have been disappointed. As we mentioned above, the downtown restaurant is now closed. I never imagined the lack of grilled chicken there would be such a fatal blow.)

+ New Netbook computers were presented to all Carver High School students, thanks to a million-dollar federal grant. But as you might guess, there are some catches. Every laptop contains a GPS device - and I assume an alarm will sound, if one of them enters a Spencer High School locker room.

(WTVM added Carver students will be disciplined, if they fail to recharge the batteries on their laptops. Is this really a good thing - teaching high school students they need to be power-conscious?)

+ Georgia Tech announced a four-game football series against Brigham Young, to be played over the next seven years. Scheduled games against Alabama have been postponed until 2019 - clearly in the hope Nick Saban has left Tuscaloosa by then.

+ Instant Message to the Georgia Department of Labor: I noticed your job posting which appears to be for a Savannah restaurant. But I think you can promote this position a lot better. Say something like, "Savannah seeks a seasoned sushi chef, to season and serve sushi."

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