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Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
Old Lion (92,000 sq. ft.)
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Date Posted: 09:45:38 02/06/17 Mon
In reply to: unvgar 's message, "Columbia practice bubble debuts" on 14:58:41 02/03/17 Fri

I am struck by how large the practice area has turned out, and by how quickly this project got done. It should be a big help not just for football, but for baseball and the other spring sports. I think that the bubble was one of Al's requests when he was recruited. In any event, if we had the same energy and support back in 1963 when the now famous "gym in the park" was first approved, instead of sitting on our hands until the world went crazy in 1968, Columbia's history might have changed for the better.

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Replies:
[> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
Boston Lion
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Date Posted: 13:08:30 02/06/17 Mon

Yes, Old Lion. Your last comment is 100% correct. The current drive and energy on this front is great to see. IMHO the gym episode is rivaled by the feckless decision years ago by that academic wombat and double-alumnus President, Michael Sovern, to sell off a chunk of extremely scarce and, therefore, extremely valuable real estate at Baker Field. Although he might have done other good things, that decision was abominable, and he should have been keelhauled for it. For sure, being an Ivy League research unversity in NYC is no walk in the park (pun intended), but as President one must have the vision to play the long game. Unfortunately, he didn't.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
ungvar
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Date Posted: 13:12:24 02/06/17 Mon

Wholeheartedly agree, Boston Lion.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
Old Lion (Sovern/Coles)
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Date Posted: 14:27:35 02/06/17 Mon

Both were guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors on athletics, compounded by the fact that both are College alums and Coles played varsity baseball.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 14:36:46 02/06/17 Mon

Boston Lion, I agree with you that selling off a chunk of Baker Field is inexcusable. In fact, it's so inexcusable that I assumed it was done only because it was forced upon Columbia by some New York City or other regulatory body in exchange for something else that Columbia really, really, really wanted. Are you saying that Columbia sold the land purely as a voluntary cash transaction?

I further agree that any senior administration's main job is taking the long view, and selling land is antithetical to taking the long view. I know that HYP opportunistically buy up any parcels which come to market anywhere near their respective campuses. Maybe that's not quite as important in Ithaca or Hanover, but Columbia above all the Ivies must value land for land's sake.

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
Old Lion (original sin)
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Date Posted: 15:38:05 02/06/17 Mon

In the late 1890s the trustees had the option to buy all of the land west of Broadway between 120th and 110th, down to the Hudson River. They declined on the ground that it was unnecessary and outside the footprint of the magnificent McKim, Meade and White footprint for the campus.

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[> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 15:47:55 02/06/17 Mon

You know, we all have hundreds and thousands of important decisions to make over the course of a lifetime. You don't have to make all of them correctly. You don't even need to bat over .500.

You just need to make a few of the most important ones correctly and you hope that you don't make any horribly. That was a horrible decision.

If you are an individual, you make decisions for the next twenty or thirty or forty years. If you are a member of a university board of trustees, you've got to make decisions for the next century or longer.

I would say that, financially, this call is worse than the $12-13 billion that Harvard's endowment managers have underachieved over the past decade. How much is that Morningside Heights land worth today? $50 billion? $100 billion?

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
florida lion
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Date Posted: 19:06:53 02/06/17 Mon

Was Sovern involved in Peter Minuit's purchase? Seriously, Morningside Heights
and Baker Field real estate have nothing to do with one another. They are miles apart. I understand CU sold 4 or so acres of Baker Field land (in exchange for a couple of million and an acre nearby) for some NYC municipal purposes. But, there is no way that parcel is currently worth $50 billion plus. That said, the lack of this land is likely the reason for the new athletic bubble. And I further agree that universities should look at the very long term and be very reluctant to sell off land, certainly in NYC.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 19:51:52 02/06/17 Mon

So it sounds like there was some horse-trading with a NYC municipal decision-making entity regarding the Baker Field parcel. That's what I was guessing.

No, the $50 billion or $100 billion numbers I tossed out referred to Columbia's decision in the 1890's not to buy the land west of Broadway between 110th and 120th down to the Hudson. What do you think that's worth? Think about the multi-billion numbers associated with the Hudson Yards and then compare their relative sizes.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
florida lion
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Date Posted: 20:27:50 02/06/17 Mon

Sorry, I didn't understand that you were referring to the land west of the current CU campus. This land is, obviously, worth much, much more than the Baker Field parcel. But we're going back to the 19th century--when we purchased Louisiana for $15m. and Alaska for $7m. So any real estate bought then seems like a bargain today. I can't say if CU would have been better off owning all that land during the last 100 years given all the changes in the city, politics and the economy. By the same measure, Penn could likely own a lot of Philadelphia and Harvard most of Cambridge. As it is, they are all significant landowners, as Brown is in Providence.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 21:18:22 02/06/17 Mon

Yes, I'm sure that real estate in New York City did not look like a great investment in the early 1990's during the height of the crack epidemic -- if your investment horizon is that of an individual. But if you're a university, you're really betting on New York City over the next century and, either way, Columbia is "all in" on that bet, whether in 1890 or 1990. Columbia should have bought the land.

I know a guy whose brownstone in one of the best parts of Brooklyn was sold to him by the city in the early 1990's for a dollar, with the stipulation that he would live in it. He's still there, renting out each of the units except the one he lives in. I'm guessing that the brownstone is worth $5 million or so, maybe $8 million on the high side. What's the IRR on one dollar?

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts/Columbia leadership


Author:
Leonidas (Sovern and Cole)
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Date Posted: 00:46:17 02/07/17 Tue

Sovern was president from 1980 to 1993. He took the College co-ed when Barnard wouldn't merge, and with the opening of Shapiro Hall in 1987 he made Columbia College fully residential for all four years for the first time in history, a huge achievement given NY real estate constraints and permitting Columbia to compete for the best students nationally and internationally. Until then Columbia denied housing to 15% or more of the first year class and to most transfer students, which was a huge competitive disadvantage.

Cole was provost from 1989 to 2003 and lead the Enlargement and Enhancement initiative that grew the College and Engineering to their present size. He recognized that Columbia could not be a first rank university without a first rank undergraduate college, and he put together and led the plan that achieved that goal. Thanks to this initiative, Lerner Hall was opened in 1999 and Broadway Hall in 2000, among other successes.

Selling off the land at Baker Field was a mistake as was selling off the Columbia Club in midtown, but only in retrospect. And as mistakes they pale in comparison to what Sovern and Cole accomplished for Columbia College, which was a complete reversal in its fortunes that would not have been possible for small single-sex school with insufficient housing.

In the 47 years since 1970, the nadir for Columbia, we have benefited from the best and most consistent leadership in the Ivy League. The presidents have been extremely long serving and have been very successful expanding Columbia's footprint and improving the campus and neighborhood environment. While Cole always struck me as a bit remote for a leader, his Columbia College legacy is exceptional. And Austin Quigley and James Valentini, who have led the College for 19 of the last 22 years, have also been outstanding institution builders. Let's count our blessings.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts/Columbia leadership


Author:
Old Lion (athletics)
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Date Posted: 09:54:46 02/07/17 Tue

My comments about Sovern/Cole were limited to their disastrous stewardship of our athletics programs. The nadir for the university was 1967; but one might say that it was a culmination of inept and incompetent leadership which began in the later years of the Butler administration and was carried through by Grayson Kirk. To me the biggest mistakes athletically were not building the gym in 1963, when it would have been easily accomplished, and in selling off parcels of Baker Field. The latter mistake, of course, is the sole responsibility of Sovern/Cole.

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[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia practice bubble debuts


Author:
florida lion
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Date Posted: 13:55:23 02/07/17 Tue

My comments yesterday were a bit confused as I thought we were just talking about Baker Field. Carelessly, I had overlooked Old Lion's post about the 1890's and CU's chance to pick up all the land to the west of the current campus. It'd
be interesting to know what was offered and for how much. If no one has a quick answer, I'll do some research.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Columbia (second) practice bubble debuts


Author:
Ivy Voyeur
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Date Posted: 08:14:01 02/07/17 Tue

No one mentioned the football program's first indoor practice bubble from the 1970's. It was located on the then-practice field above the baseball stadium, just about where the parking area is now. Similar to what there is currently (but not as fancy), it was a textile bubble inflated by fan units over a natural grass field, for practices in cold or foul weather. I believe those were the Navarro/Paul years. Maybe Naso too. After some years, the thing was destroyed by a bad storm.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Columbia (second) practice bubble debuts


Author:
CU_88
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Date Posted: 09:05:31 02/07/17 Tue

Thanks for the info. That was before my time.

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Feds should take away not-for-profit status of greedy.


Author:
Sprint66
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Date Posted: 19:55:38 02/07/17 Tue

I hate not-for-profits as there is so much abuse of the system. We have greedy universities charging students $60K per year and it costs more than twice as much to build a new indoor practice facility or any other building, than what it costs in the private sector. That is a blatant abuse in higher education and Congress should yank their NFP status. They'll get religion in a hurry.

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[> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Feds should take away not-for-profit status of greedy.


Author:
An Observer
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Date Posted: 21:03:25 02/07/17 Tue

It actually costs Ivy and other elite universities that much to provide their college experience. This is because there are so many highly paid professors who spend most of their time doing research and there are so many other expenses like top notch libraries and laboratories and facilities, all of which combine to create a "prestigious" ambience and brand name but do not tangibly affect the undergraduate experience.

You want Cornell to cut back on these things?

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[> [> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Feds should take away not-for-profit status of greedy.


Author:
Sprint66
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Date Posted: 22:46:12 02/07/17 Tue

No but I want accountability on how alumni donations and student tuition is spent.

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