Alex J. Walling to Rainmen: “Get off my lawn, you lousy kids!”
Anyone from Halifax should be familiar with Alex J. Walling. He’s not quite the elder statesman of Halifax sports, but he’s definately the elder pundit. He was quick to dismiss the Rainmen before they played a game, and he’s dismissing them now. It’s not that he doesn’t have legitimate points, the problem is that he comes across like a bitter old man pining for the good old days.
His interview with the original owner of the Windjammers was laughable – marketing to Halifax in 1991 before the massive increase in population, the arrival of the Toronto Raptors and Steve Nash in Canada, the founding of the Mooseheads in Halifax, the collapse of the regional television networks, the decline in the number of 18 – 35 year old listeners to commercial radio, and the invention of a little something called the internet is a hell of a lot different than what the Rainmen have to face. He also ignores the fact that the Windjammers never had a winning season, did not average the 10 000 fans who showed up opening night (he never mentions midseason numbers, just that glorious parting of the Red Sea of an opening night) and folded in two years.
I’m not saying that there aren’t major concerns about the team and the league, but Wallings objections come across as nostalgia and bitterness from an old fogey. Anyone who has read his commentary on high schools (sports or racial diversity issues) can see how out of date he is. The only thing that could make him happy was if Keith Smart, Jimmy Chitwood and Chuck Taylor suited up for the Rainmen.
He also seems like the kind of guy that google searches his own name, so I expect a bitter e-mail about this.
The one point worth mentioning is his claim, attributed to a MetroCentre source (I thought all the WorldTradeCentre staff would be too busy working on Celine Dion damage control to talk to about anything else), that only 2800 people paid for the game:
The not-so-good was the crowd. It was announced at 4,343, but that’s the amount of people in the building.
My good Metro Centre sources say the paid admission was around 2,800. That’s not a lot after a full year of planning this event.
This is a common practice – in concert production we call it “Papering the Room” (i.e. there’s more people in the room on paper than there are door reciepts). If Walling is right about this, which he probably is, it is a source of some worry but not a ton. Most people didn’t think it’d ever get off the ground, and as a result didn’t buy tickets. If they’re still papering the room on the 28th when “Strong” Island come to town then we can hit the panic button, until then we can just be moderately concerned.
Credit where credit is due: His analysis months ago about the sketch factor of the ABA was quite good.