Like most cities in the United States (and I assume Canada), Philadelphia is facing a situation where the available funding for services is being stretched to the breaking point. In this situation, the city faces two choices, either raise taxes or cut services. Raising taxes in NEVER a popular option, and cuts to essential services is always met with public outcry, which leaves the services which enhance the quality of life to be the first on the chopping block. Things such as libraries, museums, recreation programs and facilities have their budgets gutted, if they survive the cuts at all. In light of this situation, I want to publicly commend Mr. Ed Snider, founder of the Flyers and Chairman of Comcast Spectacorp, for understanding that Philadelphia has made him fabulously wealthy and that he has the means to help out
In today's Camden Courier-Post, Chuck Gormley included this tid bit:
Flyers chairman Ed Snider and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced Tuesday that the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will take over operation and programming of three ice skating rinks targeted by the City for possible closure. Under the agreement, ESYHF will oversee all ice hockey programs at the Scanlon Ice Rink, the Laura Sims Skatehouse at Cobbs Creek, and the Rink at Simons Recreation and Teen Access Center. The Foundation will provide free ice hockey instruction and leagues, including all equipment, as well supplemental academic services at no charge to participants. The Philadelphia Department of Recreation will continue to maintain the rinks. "This agreement is an example of a great public-private partnership," said Mayor Nutter. "I am pleased that the Snider Foundation is able to work with the city to keep these rinks open and accessible to the community. In this budget climate, we need to be more creative about how we provide services."
Mr. Snider had founded the ESHYF a few years ago to promote hockey to inner city kids who wouldn't normally have access to the game at all. By all accounts, the program is a rousing success and has provided the opportunity for disadvantaged children to learn hockey, get constructive guidance and help with homework, and even to travel to places they never thought they would have the opportunity to see. Not only is this an altruistic gesture in providing for the greater good of the community, but it is also good business, and I don't have the slightest problem with that. The vast majority of the crowd that fills the Wachovia Center comes from the suburbs and is fairly affluent (at least compared to the economic status of the inner city). By exposing these kids to hockey at an early age, and promoting an understanding of the game and teamwork, These kids will more likely be successful, and more likely to grow up hockey fans.
So I say, kudos to Mr. Snider for understanding that community spirit and good business sense can go hand in hand, and even though it may not translate into dollars today, or even next week, he can expect a return on his investment that will surely exceed the money put into it