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Is the grand American @ Sparta doomed?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by grnberetcj, Jan 19, 2010.

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  1. grnberetcj

    grnberetcj Active Member

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    Here's some facts from the ATA that clearly show the decline of the GAH @ Sparta.

    Seems we should not be using the recent recession as the reason for it's decline. Stat's indicate that the decline began well before the country's recent economic woes.

    Maybe the EC and members of the ATA should be asking why other shoots are increasing yearly while the Grand is declining? The reason is out there, we just have to find it.

    These numbers can be verified under Shoot Attendance within the first few pages of the Annual ATA Average Book.

    Make your own decisions/assumptions.

    Just an FYI.

    Curt

    GRAND AMERICAN HANDICAP EVENT

    1996 - 4081

    1997 - 3910

    1998 - 3899

    1999 - 5000

    2000 - 3796

    2001 - 3856

    2002 - 3816

    2003 - 3726

    2004 - 3720

    2005 - 3232

    2006 - 2648

    2007 - 2484

    2008 - 2144

    2009 - 1980

    2010 ??

    Using an average of 3700 shooters competing in the GAH, 1980 shooters in 2009 is a decrease of 53.5 %
     
  2. kgun_shooter

    kgun_shooter Member

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    I wish it was! I use to go every year, haven't been there since it moved to Sparta.
     
  3. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    grnberetcj- Many shoots, including the Grand, have declined. These are our shoots and our sport. The real question is what are we going to do about it?

    Pat Ireland
     
  4. zzt

    zzt Well-Known Member

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    Curt, I'm quite sure I don't have all the answers, but consider this. When you map ATA shoot data for major shoots not including the Grand by State, PA is the highest. Ohio is the next. Many shooters from both States went to the Grand when it was at Vandalia. They no longer attend is such numbers, and that alone probably constitutes the majority of the shortfall.

    Also, I would not underestimate effect the price of fuel has had on shooting. It certainly hurt our clubs target numbers. Then the recession piggybacked and this got even worse.
     
  5. grnberetcj

    grnberetcj Active Member

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    Pat...

    I did ask that question!

    I put out the ATA's numbers for people's education. Each shooter should be looking for an answer and try to find a way to increase our shoots.

    No matter the venue. But we all know that the venue plays an important role in determining where shooters will spend their hard earned dollars.

    Curt
     
  6. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    I agree that things will keep going down. And also that it can't be helped. I think it's all about demographics...I'll try to explain.


    I grew up near Dayton, OH, so humor me while I tell you some important things about my home town. Even before 1900, Dayton was a powerhouse of industry. Maybe not a NYC or Chicago, but a pretty damn productive place for its size. The Wright Brothers, Charles Kettering, the inventor of the automotive starter, the list goes on and on. If you have a few minutes, look it up on Wikipedia and look at the history of what was invented and manufactured there. From WW2 on, everything you can think of was made in that town. You had Frigidaire, National Cash Register, a Chrysler plant and 6 (count 'em) SIX GM plants (Delco Kettering Chassis, Delco Home Avenue, Delco Wisconsin Blvd. brakes, the Moraine truck assembly plant, Harrison Radiator, and don't forget the GM Inland division right up in Vandalia next to the trapshoot grounds). I've missed plenty, but this gives you an idea...a hell of a lot for a town of 100,000 people.


    What does this mean to trapshooting? Simply this: during the time when trapshooting was in its golden years (and when American Manufacturing was in ITS golden years), trapshooting's Mecca was located next to the I-75 industrial corridor running between Detroit and Atlanta. The workers in those plants had rural backgrounds. They liked to hunt and shoot. They made good money, for what they did. And, they either got off work at 3PM, or else worked a night shift...leaving them open for shooting on weekday afternoons if they planned their day right.


    Now, let me tell you about my favorite trap club in the world, Middletown Sportsmens' Club, about a half hour South of Dayton. Around 4PM in the afternoon on Wednesdays, the parking lot would start filling up, and the shooting didn't stop until they finally turned the lights off about 10PM. Go down in the basement, by the restrooms, and look at the old team pictures of the shooters in the Dayton Industrial League. Forget about the weekend shoots; this place had REGISTERED TRAPSHOOTING EVERY WEDNESDAY OF THE YEAR FROM MARCH TO NOVEMBER. This is not your local Wednesday night calcutta night I'm talking about; you could _register_ ATA singles and handicap targets every Wednesday of the year except for a couple months - and this was back when you had to have 5 people sign up to register an event! They got as many REGISTERED shooters on WEDNESDAYS as many smaller clubs could get on a weekend. You could register six thousand birds a year without ever setting foot in a club on a Saturday or Sunday, if you didn't want to.


    What does this, plus a bunch of other area clubs, all add up to? A whole lot of trapshooters, with time and money to do it, based right around where the Grand was held. The Grand American literally grew its own participant base around itself! It couldn't have been in a better place. If you looked around the parking lot at Vandalia, you saw a HELL of a lot of local plates. I could sit here and rattle off a list of these guys who won major trophies, GAH champs, CTC champs, All-Around, from within an hour of Dayton, but it would just bore you.


    Sparta will _never_ have that.


    I'm not saying this to run Sparta down. What I'm pointing out, is that Dayton had something, in the era the Grand was held there, that no place on earth will ever be able to repeat, ever again, no matter what. Once we lost that, the Grand was permanently diminished - it's just taken us a few years to realize it.


    To this day, you can go to the ATA HQ building in Vandalia, stand on the North side of the flagpole, and read a metal plaque set in the ground, listing the names of the men who started that place up back in the 1920's. Read those names. They were as rich a bunch of sumbitches as you could imagine in those days. They were captains of industry...and the people who worked in those industries made the Grand what it was for so many years.


    Dayton doesn't have that much anymore. And we don't have Dayton anymore. And it has little to do with official ATA decisions. Let's face it: you could hold the Grand in Pootskatoonawaka, British f'ing Columbia, and most of the "MOTOR HOME DELEGATE" types would still attend. It doesn't make one goddamn bit of difference to those people. It would just be a nice change of scenery for them. It was us "little" schmucks, who grew up and worked and learned to shoot trap right there, trying to make the most of our two weeks of vacation, that the Grand's location made a difference to.


    If you still have those memories, hold them dear. No place or time will ever be able to recreate what was there. You can never go home.


    Sparta with its one automotive foundry plant, one Holiday Inn, and its little strip of candle-dipping shops is never going to be anything like that. No place ever could be. Even the people who sing Sparta's praises most loudly will be doing well to make it there once every 5 years. But thanks to the willingness of coal companies to deplete the Earth - and the willingness of corrupt arrogant asshole politicians like Rod Blagojevich to buy the land and spend their taxpayers' money to build on it - we now have the greatest shooting range in the world. In the middle of f'ing nowhere.


    You take what you can get.
     
  7. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

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    Buzz: right on........
     
  8. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Banned User Banned TS Supporters

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    Buzz-----perfect!!
     
  9. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

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    The begining of the end of the ATA started before the move to Sparta, the move to Sparta just affirmed it ... The IDNR says they were going to build the facility weather or not the ATA committed to moving the Grand American to Sparta ... I sincerely doubt that in all honesty because if they would of now all it would be doing is sitting there rotting ... The ATA jumped on the only horse left after they eliminated any other places that had made offers or showed an interest as well as dontations of big money and low to no interest loans and plenty of Infrastructure in place prior to the ATA moving there ... Sparta was, is, and will always be one of the biggest mistakes the ATA has ever made and the lacking attendance proves it as it declines more every year (verified)... If it was not for the daily fees that the ATA collects from the clubs all across the country they would of been gone already ...

    Sparta might be a Diamond in the rough, but the build it and they will come thing went out the window when people discovered just how much of a hassle it can be to travel to the place and then continue to drive back and forth daily for the next week or two besides ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
     
  10. Danny B

    Danny B TS Member

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    buzz..........100% correct. That is the best explaination of what happened and sadly in some sense reflects the whole wonderful USA...........RUN'EM
     
  11. SMITH47

    SMITH47 Member

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    the young guns are on the sporting clays courses..

    and i sincerely hope they have as much fun as their forefathers !

    ernie
     
  12. rhymeswithorange

    rhymeswithorange Member

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    I hope not this year, I am going for the first time with another first time Grand attendee and we just made our reservations. We're bringing our future hopeful attendee, aged 7.

    Dave Eberhart
     
  13. TjayE

    TjayE Member

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    Buzz - very true and factual. Tom E.
     
  14. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

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    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Illinois enters a state of insolvency


    By Paul Merrion, Greg Hinz and Steven R. Strahler
    Jan. 18, 2010



    As Illinois' fiscal crisis deepens, the word "bankruptcy" is creeping more and more into the public discourse.
    "We would like all the stakeholders of Illinois to recognize how close the state is to bankruptcy or insolvency," says Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a fiscal watchdog in Chicago.



    "Bankruptcy is the reality that looms out there," Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew McKenna Jr. says.




    While it appears unlikely or even impossible for a state to hide out from creditors in Bankruptcy Court, Illinois appears to meet classic definitions of insolvency: Its liabilities far exceed its assets, and it's not generating enough cash to pay its bills. Private companies in similar circumstances often shut down or file for bankruptcy protection.
    "I would describe bankruptcy as the inability to pay one's bills," says Jim Nowlan, senior fellow at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. "We're close to de facto bankruptcy, if not de jure bankruptcy."



    Legal experts say the protections of the federal bankruptcy code are available to cities and counties but not states.

    While Illinois doesn't have the option of shutting its doors or shedding debts in a bankruptcy reorganization, it seems powerless to avert the practical equivalent. Despite a budget shortfall estimated to be as high as $5.7 billion, state officials haven't shown the political will to either raise taxes or cut spending sufficiently to close the gap.



    As a result, fiscal paralysis is spreading through state government. Unpaid bills to suppliers are piling up. State employees, even legislators, are forced to pay their medical bills upfront because some doctors are tired of waiting to be paid by the state. The University of Illinois, owed $400 million, recently instituted furloughs, and there are fears it may not make payroll in March if the shortfall continues.




    'We're close to de facto bankruptcy, if not de jure bankruptcy.'

    — Jim Nowlan, University of IllinoisWithout quick corrective action or a sharp economic upturn, Illinois is headed toward a governmental collapse. At some point, unpaid vendors will stop bidding on state contracts, investors will refuse to buy Illinois bonds and state employees will get paid in scrip, as California did last year.
    "The crisis will come when you see state institutions shutting down because they can't pay their employees," says David Merriman, head of the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


    A record $5.1 billion in state bills was past due at yearend, almost doubling to 92 days from 48 days a year earlier the average amount of time it takes the state to pay vendors such as doctors, hospitals, non-profit service providers and other contractors.



    "I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel," says Dan Strick, CEO of SouthStar Services, a Chicago Heights non-profit that helps people with developmental disabilities. "It seems to be getting worse and worse, and the delays longer and longer." SouthStar hasn't been paid since July, forcing him to borrow to keep afloat.



    State tax receipts from July through December last year were running more than $1 billion behind 2008, including a $460-million plunge in sales taxes and a $349-million drop in personal income taxes. Even with a 22% increase in money from the federal government, thanks largely to the stimulus program, total state revenues were down 2.1%, or $284 million, from the previous year.



    While new spending is down nearly 2% in the six months ended in December, the state started the fiscal year $3.9 billion in the hole from the previous year's unpaid bills, which means actual spending was up 2.2%, according to the Illinois comptroller's most recent report.



    The resulting $5.1-billion backlog of unpaid bills doesn't include $1.4 billion in Medicaid and group health bills that haven't been processed, plus $2.25 billion in short-term borrowing that must be repaid soon.



    Illinois is living hand to mouth, paying bills as revenues come in each day, building up cash when special payments are coming due. Cash on hand varies from day to day, sometimes dipping below $1 million, says a spokeswoman for Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes.



    The state's credit rating has been steadily worsening since 1997, with three downgrades in the past 13 months. "The absence of recurring solutions in the next year to deal with the current budget challenges and begin to stabilize liquidity will likely result in a further downgrade of Illinois," Standard & Poor's said last month.



    As credit ratings dropped, the state has to pay more to borrow. The state also has to pay interest on bills unpaid after 90 days, adding further to its costs.

    The real fear is that the state could eventually be unable to plug its budget gaps with short-term borrowing. Illinois is still a long way from Arkansas during the Great Depression, believed to be the only instance in the past century when a state defaulted on its debt. But California was forced to seek a federal guarantee for its borrowing last year when credit dried up. It didn't get the guarantee, and state officials are now seeking a $6.9-billion federal bailout.



    While California has an even bigger budget hole to fill, Illinois ranks dead last among the states in terms of negative net worth compared with total expenditures. The state's liabilities, including future pension payments, exceed its unrestricted assets by $39 billion, more than 72% of its total expenditures as of mid-2008, according to Richard Ciccarone, managing director and chief research officer at McDonnell Investment Management LLC, an Oak Brook money manager that invests in bonds. "It's probably higher now," he adds.

    Investors like Mr. Ciccarone already are starting to wonder if Illinois' shaky finances and rising debt are a threat to the regular, on-time payments bond investors expect. "You really can't just look at default risk," he says. "For an investor looking for stable performance, Illinois leaves you waiting. There are tremendous unresolved issues."




    In addition to its day-to-day budget, Illinois faces rising pension expenses in coming years. Lawmakers have skimped on required contributions to employee pension funds and even borrowed to make those smaller payments. Unfunded liabilities and pension debt are projected to reach $95 billion by June 30. The state must contribute $5.4 billion to the pension funds next year, and more than $10 billion a year in the future. Required contributions will soon start increasing dramatically because the state has repeatedly pushed back a payment schedule enacted in 1995 to set aside enough to cover 90% of its pension obligations by 2045, up from 43% today, one of the worst unfunded liabilities in the nation.



    The sharp rise in pension payments is the biggest factor pushing Illinois toward what a legislative task force last November called "a 'tipping point' beyond which it will be impossible to reverse the fiscal slide into bankruptcy." The little-noticed report on the state's pension problems warned that "the radical cost-cutting and huge tax increases necessary to pay all the deferred costs from the past would become so large that many businesses and individuals would be driven out of Illinois, thereby magnifying the vicious cycle of contracting state services, increasing taxes, and loss of the state's tax base."



    While the Illinois Constitution protects vested pension benefits, that promise, like all the state's obligations, is only as good as its ability to pay. The Civic Federation warned lawmakers last fall that "there is mounting evidence that a judge could find the state is already insolvent. If the state is found to be insolvent under the classical cash-flow definition of insolvency, which is 'the inability to pay debts as they come due,' it is not only the pension rights of non-vested employees that will be in jeopardy. All the obligations of the state, whether vested or not, will be competing for funding with the other essential responsibilities of state government. Even vested pension rights are jeopardized when a government is insolvent."
     
  15. Hoosier Daddy

    Hoosier Daddy TS Member

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    Buzz that was great! Well said and something I think a lot of us have been thinking for a long time. Maybe Cardinal Center will be the saviour.
     
  16. over the hill

    over the hill Active Member

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    With the comments of Buzz and Skeet this thread could be closed.

    They have said it all, and truthfully.

    Problem is can anything be done???


    Respectfully.....Gerald
     
  17. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    There really is nothing more that can be said. The painful truth is that the ATA was forced to relocate the Grand to an area farther away from a large percentage of its customers than their old location. One of the basic rules of establishing a business is making it convenient to its intended customers - location, location, location. "Convenience" stores are so named for a reason and many of us are willing to pay more for the goods sold there because of it.

    The ATA now is going through what many local auto dealerships endured in the 1970s and 1980s. They had outgrown their facilities in the small towns across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg and (ironically) moved west to a three-lane road called the Carlisle Pike. Those dealerships were considered too far removed by many of their established customers and today, only two survive under the same ownership. But the Carlisle Pike is now a five-lane highway lined with malls, shopping centers, WalMart, Target, Kohl's, grocery stores, most restaurant chains and a multi-million-dollar dealership for just about every brand of car.

    Sparta will one day become today's Carlisle Pike. The key question is can the ATA be one of those two dealerships?

    Ed
     
  18. blackfoot

    blackfoot Member

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    Who wants to take precious funds($5,000+ for a week) and go to a Hell hole in August in the middle of nowhere and get screwed by lodging/resturants etc?The area is only good for midwest people and their RV's.It just doesn't make sense to ATA shooters in the west!Guess where the growth in the USA is- the west.VEGAS is the place for the long term future!

    "Build it and they will come" isn't playing out!
     
  19. eightbore

    eightbore Well-Known Member

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    Buzz, you mentioned the ground plaque near the flagpole at Vandalia. Do you have a picture to post or can someone post a picture of the plaque? Some of the information about the original creation of the Vandalia facility is a bit dated and ambiguous. The Pattersons obviously had a big part in it, but what is the whole story?
     
  20. glenn mcleod

    glenn mcleod Member

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    As the youth stops coming all sports will continue to drop. Convenience is only one element, spendable income of the current family budget is now the most important reason all sports are dying and will become an ever increasing reason people are becoming spectator sportsman or computer buffs. Stop in your local sport shop, little to do with hunting or fishing. Bikes, running,etc. are what is being sold. If they are not looking at these sporting items they are in the large electronic stores looking at the latest device. Electronics is the things of beauty today, most young people could care less about a K, P, or L shotgun. JMHO Glenn
     
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