Drew Brees Gets An Early Retirement Present
They say the NFL is a copy cat league. A league where one team tries to mimic the successful blueprint laid out by another. Well apparently Drew Brees and Demario Davis have taken that mentality. And they applied it to the areas of economic development and submitting business proposals to the city as well.
Drew Brees cheating off of Troy Henry’s paper wasn’t the headline of any local news reports last week. But that’s exactly what happened. The East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission (ENONAC) held a meeting this past Tuesday. One of the key agenda items was reviewing the two remaining proposals to redevelop the long dormant Six Flags site.
The Brees led group bombed the first time out. If it was Showtime at the Apollo, they would have been led off stage by the Sandman. The New Orleans East community supports new entertainment opportunities and other businesses that create jobs. But Drew Brees’ group originally centered their proposal around turning Six Flags into a farm and transportation hub.
“I felt we weren’t framing our project in a way that highlighted the interests of the community,” said Demario Davis. He uttered this major understatement during the opening minutes of the (ENONAC) meeting last week.
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Meanwhile, Troy Henry’s group knocked it out the park (pun intended). They proposed upgrading the Six Flags into a site that would house
- an indoor/outdoor amusement park,
- restaurants, hotels,
- a golf course,
- along with the transportation hub requested by the city.
This would all be Bayou Phoenix.
Seemingly, the selection committee judging the proposals agreed. What they couldn’t agree on though was rightfully awarding the contract to Bayou Phoenix. Instead of awarding the contract on the day they promised, the committee gave the Brees/Davis led group 30 more days to revise their proposal.
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Three weeks later, it was hard to tell to the two proposals apart. AMAZING!
Suddenly, at the ENONAC meeting Davis revealed that amusement and entertainment had been a big part of their proposal all along. It was all just a matter of poor communication. As Brees walked the committee through the “refocused” version of his group’s proposal, it became hard to tell if they had inadvertently loaded Bayou Phoenix’s slides on to their computer. Instantaneously, there was a water park, restaurants, an amphitheater, talk of community uplifting and engagement. The farm, once the selling point of their original unfocused proposal, was now a backdrop, only mentioned as a complimentary piece to what they now realize the community actually needed and wanted. Troy Henry and his Bayou Phoenix partners could only fume.
“They say imitation is the purest form of flattery,” Henry said during a phone interview. Well, he must’ve been flattered to the bone, watching his idea be repackaged and stolen.
The committee has set a bad precedent with the way they have handled this process.
Regardless of how this eventually turns out, future developers who plan on doing business with the city may end up feeling a bit skittish. Here it is as a developer you go out and do your due diligence of engaging the community. You actually listen to their wants and needs. Then you create a plan built around those meetings only to see your idea stolen because the city’s committee allowed another group to cheat off your paper.
The community is not standing down. New Orleans East Matters has teamed up with local clergy, hoping that there is strength in numbers. “We just want to be heard,” said Wall. And as she has said before, the community feels that Henry and his Bayou Phoenix partners were the ones who initially engaged them. Henry’s group came up with a proposal built around their needs, so for them Bayou Phoenix is the one who should be awarded the deal.
“This is not just about The East,” said Wall, “Bayou Phoenix can be an asset not just the East but to city as well.”
The NFL might call it being a copycat, but in real life, stealing somebody’s business proposal, ain’t just competition.
This Friday, June 11th, will mark 30 days. We’ll see if the committee agrees. For more information stay tuned.