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Consultants recommending naming new Rock Chalk Park recreation center SportQuest; local Eagles lodge closed following investigation

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Get ready, Lawrence. You soon may be embarking on a quest. I'm almost certain it won't require a hobbit, three rings or even a donkey and windmills, for that matter. No, think a quest for a championship. Think a quest for success.

Start thinking SportQuest. It soon may be the name of the city's new multimillion dollar recreation center at Rock Chalk Park.

A consulting firm hired by the city is recommending the 181,000-square-foot, eight-gym center be named SportQuest at Rock Chalk Park. Or, at least that will be part of the name. Consultants also are recommending that the city seek to find a title sponsor for the center. In that case it could be something like: Hy-Vee SportQuest at Rock Chalk Park, or OrthoKansas SportQuest at Rock Chalk Park, or Dick's Sporting Goods SportQuest at Rock Chalk Park. None of those companies, of course, have agreed to that, but they were among several companies listed as prospects in a report prepared for city officials.

The marketing firm — Premier Sports Management — is estimating a corporate sponsorship for the center could generate $95,000 to $125,000 a year for the center, minus the cost of signs and Premier's 20 percent commission. The company thinks there also is the potential to attract two or three presenting sponsors that would have signs in spaces such as the gyms, fitness area, turf field and other such spaces. Those sponsorships could fetch $40,000 to $75,000 per sponsor. In total, the city hopes to generate at least $225,000 a year in revenue, minus the commission.

We've previously reported on the likelihood the city would pursue corporate naming of the center. But it still will be interesting to see how the public reacts. In a memo to commissioners, parks and recreation leaders note that some in the public may be opposed to the corporate nature of the idea, but staff members said without the revenue from sponsorships, they may have to consider the idea of "memberships and other general use charges."

As for the name SportQuest, that is being recommended by the Lawrence-based marketing firm Miller Meiers. The company says it is important for the facility to have a name that distinguishes it from the facilities — such as the track and field, soccer and softball facilities — that will be used by Kansas University. The name also should give the center a "distinct persona from other facilities in the state and region."

The Miller Meiers team is recommending SportQuest in part because the center is designed to serve as a sporting facility for youth tournaments but also as a wellness and fitness center for local residents. The idea is there may be teams on a quest for a championship, while there may be others users who are on a quest for health and wellness.

The company considered some other names. They included: AdAstra, OneLawrence, Freedom, Kanza, Victory, SportsOmni, and SportsPlex.

One that did not make the list, but that I had heard early one was The Rock at Rock Chalk Park. It was edgy, and I'm almost certain we could have gotten the actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to regularly serve as a weekend referee at the center.

It will be interesting to see whether any name besides Rock Chalk Park ever truly sticks to this center. Rock Chalk Park has become such a strong name in the community already, I can already hear kids saying: "We're going to be playing at Rock Chalk this weekend."

In other news and notes from around town:

• There is mystery surrounding the local Eagles Lodge today. The club and banquet facility at 1803 W. Sixth Street is closed, and a notice on the door says the club's charter has been suspended by the national Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The notice says a "thorough investigation" found at least a half-dozen violations of the by-laws of the organization, including violations of presidential duty, secretarial duty, treasurer duty and auditor duties.

The club is frequently used for wedding receptions and other events. I'm not clear on how this suspension will impact people who have booked events at the facility. The notice stated an agent was being appointed for the location, and the agent would have broad powers to act immediately. So maybe the facility will reopen soon. I called the national headquarters, and an employee there was unaware of the suspension of the club's charter. I'm reaching out to local leaders of the club now, and will provide an update when I have one.

UPDATE: I got in touch with Caleb Regan, who was the club president at the time the suspension of the club's charter occurred. He said the club is meeting with an agent from the national organization on April 18, and hopes to have the club reopened by April 19.

Regan would only characterize the reason for the club's closure as "errors of an operational nature."

"It is not a financial issue or a criminal issue," Regan said.

He said the closure does mean that the club's regular Friday night bingo games are on hiatus until the club reopens. He said if the club is able to reopen by April 19, the closure will not impact any wedding receptions or other similar events booked for the club. A fundraiser for the Toys for Tots and Blue Santa programs is scheduled to go on as planned at 4:30 p.m. on April 19.

"As long as we have certain things in place by then, we're hopeful that we'll be allowed to continue operating after that point," Regan said.

Regan said a Lawrence flea market event scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday will be allowed to take place in the parking lot of the facility.

The club has about 600 members and auxiliary members, Regan said. But the club is open to the public at various times, such as for bingo and a host of events. Prior to the shutdown, the club had been discussing a possible sale of its building, and moving to a smaller location.

"It is prime real estate, and we really don't utilize all the space all the time," Regan said.

He said he does expect the club to bounce back from its current troubles.

"I am disappointed but we just have to do whatever we can to get the operations up and rolling again," Regan said. "We do a lot of good through charities in town, and it is important for us to be an institution in Lawrence."

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  • Comments

    Bob Forer 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    Utterly astonishing that one would hire a consultant to come up with something as simple as a name. SportQuest. Wow. I am sure it took a look of creative thinkers to come up with that. I wonder how much extra it cost to leave out the space between Sport and Quest. What creative brilliiance!!!!! .

    Mark Rainey 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    At $20,000 plus per year for the life of the park, no less.

    Lee Eldridge 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    Actually Bob, a considerable amount of time and research goes into making these decisions, especially when dealing with a business / facility that will be operating at a regional or national level. It's not like naming a pet.

    Bob Forer 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    Lee, thanks for proving my point. yes, a considerable amount of time and research does go into making these decisions. But it does not logically follow that simply because considerable time and expense is invovled, that such expeditures of resource were indicated or necessary in the first place.

    The slogan "you get what you pay for" is applicable in many instances. But sometimes, you can get the same thing without having to pay for it.

    Richard Andrade 7 months, 2 weeks ago

    Agreed, Bob. I'm having trouble making the connection between "a considerable amount of time and research" and the unveiling of a name like "SportQuest". I have a feeling that one of the "considerable amount(s)" involved was the consultant fee for that little gem.

    Don Brennaman 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    This reminds me of appointing a guy to select himself as the vice-presidential nominee.

    Richard Heckler 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    An estimated $300,000 a year for operations/maintenance for this new field house. Plus the maintenance expense due the the Rock Chalk expansion that USD 497 took on about 2007 or thereabouts. Rock Chalk is but one phase of this tax dollar monster.

    PLAY has always been about economic growth by way of pork barrel spending for the new housing industry. It has never been presented as such however I contend most all special interest tax dollar spending is a result of lobbying from the new housing and strip mall industry. Both of which have become risky business beyond reality.

    --- The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

    --- The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

    --- What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

    David Klamet 7 months, 3 weeks ago

    It is hard to believe that I once thought Rush Limbaugh had something of value to say, but he had a few expressions early on that have stuck with me. The one that applies in this case is:

    Symbolism over substance.

    Appearance is important, but it has become more important than the reality underneath.

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