Saturday, October 27, 2007

Modern Day Grinch Tale: How Harris Rosen Almost Stole The Magic's Stadium

As you probably heard, the Orlando Magic won approval by city and county councils to begin constuction of a new, expensive, state of the art arena as soon as they could get their cute little star-bedazzled shovels in the ground. It was one of the more feel-good stories of the summer in an NBA that had its name trudged through the mud.


What you probably didn't hear about was the guy trying to stop the future of the Magic: hotel magnate Harris Rosen. His story was that of a modern day "How The Grinch Stole Christmas".

The story hasn't really gotten its proper due in mainstream sports reporting, probably because Orlando just doesn't have the glitz and glamour of New York and L.A, where Kobe Bryant's used tissues are on a 24-hour news station as we speak. Nevertheless, it's a pretty neat story, one that might have just seen its conclusion. Unlike the situation in Seattle, where the lines are blurred as to who really wants the team to stay and go, the lines were directly drawn in the sand in central Florida. It was war.

Let's begin in the Whoville of Orlando. For Magic fans, the name Harris Rosen was akin to something that shot out of you after a poorly-planned Mexican dinner. Rosen is the head of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, the modern day exclusive "cave on the snow-capped mountain". While Orlando fans, politicians, players and city charity organizations below were elated at the prospect of a new arena for the Magic (coupled with a downtown redevelopment package) Harris Rosen was not. He wanted more of the city's money to go towards other things (cough, cough, things that would help tourism in his hotels, cough).

"It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight."


Met with criticism for trying to fill his own pockets, Rosen demanded the Magic devote their own money to "more charitable projects"...The Magic promptly complied with a smile on their face, giving 22 million dollars to charitable projects in the community.

Annoyed and seeing the venues get cleared through the city council vote, Rosen tried to get a pair of county council members on his side to sway the votes needed to veto the venues package...The county council votes went 5-2. People were really celebrating. Rosen was REALLY angry now.

"He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,

At the warm lighted windows below in their town."


This did not stop the Terminator-like determination of Rosen to stop the arena at all costs. This is that part of the story you are probably very familiar with:

"Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!"

Harris Rosen found a loophole. If enough people signed a petition condemning the venues, the issue would go up for a county-wide vote. This would postpone the construction of the arena, sinking the city into tons of debt in wasted time, and potentially dooming the whole project altogether.

He sent people door-to-door to collect signatures, with the message that the new venues would be bad for them. You could almost see him collecting these signatures from houses, and climbing the snow-peaked mountains with his dog leading the way.
He began collecting signatures of Orlando residents rapidly, and reported an alarmingly high success rate early on. This terrified Magic fans and Orlando politicians. He smiled and told reporters that soon his brand of justice would be served.

...But then something happened.

"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!"
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Whos down in
Whoville will all cry BooHoo!"
"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch, "That I simply MUST hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low.
Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same! "

This article just came out today. Apparently the townsfolk of Orlando didn't want to sign Rosen's petition, and on top of that his initial numbers were grossly miscounted. Rosen needed about 34,000 votes...and had barely 4,000. Almost in unison, the Orlando Whos sang out that they wanted the Magic to stay, wanted money to go towards their home, and all that they wanted for Christmas this year was for the downtown section of the city of Orlando to have a future.

With the story seemingly ending well, all we have left to hope for is that Harris Rosen one day accepts his fate, and helps the Orlando Magic carve the Roast Beast.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is awesome news that Rosen failed. Orlando will finally get the arena it deserves and when the time comes that the Magic become champs and have star players like they had in the Shaq era, the city will come alive again

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Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas! Let the new year will bring a lot of money

Anonymous said...

who are you and who do you THINK you are?!? harris rosen is a great man, and doesn't deserve this crap. who even has the time to do stuff like this? wow

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