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Old 03-14-2016, 05:50 PM   #41
F-Line to Dudley
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 4,417
Re: What to do about the NEAQ?

Is this splinter thread some sort of escapist fantasy from the pall that's been cast over the Garage Tower thread over the staring contest between the developer and the BRA? How exactly is NEAQ going to play "Let's Make A Deal" like it's a bada-bing easy thing when our flaccid local planning institutions and billionaire developers have so much trouble closing a deal without people who should be well-experienced in the art of deal-making constantly needing to excuse themselves mid-negotiation to change out of soiled underwear?

Do you get it? NEAQ tried this before. More than once. It nearly killed them dead and left Boston without an aquarium at all because the same damn institutions couldn't sit across from each other at a table and hash shit out before time ran out and chaos had its way with things. It degenerated into yet another provincial staring contest, and the Aquarium plunged straight off a cliff without a lifejacket because of it. For 2 decades the trustees have had to manage their money very miserly to atone, shore up their balance sheet, and retain and expand the support of their donors. After what happened to their finances and accreditation they had to retrench around certainty, because existence-threatening big risks are not a thing deep-pocketed animal conservationists will tolerate. It forced them to scale back their expansion strategies and work station-to-station as incrementalists instead of plotting in big leaps of exponential expansion. That's what they had to do to sell their recovery to a donor base that--by nature of zoo/conservation line of work--is so very risk-averse. They had to sell it that way because they couldn't count on deal-making with this city's institutions and business community with enough certainty, and couldn't sell their donor base on likelihood that next encounter with the City would be different than the last.

Now, they absolutely were part of the problem as to why a deal couldn't get done back then. And they're not coating themselves in glory right now over this garage staring contest. But don't naively assume that some public/private/gov't Win!-Win!-Win! deal is one phone call away. Because it sure as hell isn't coming together free-and-easy with the far bigger money being swung around for the tower. Like I said...put on your Board of Trustees Chair thinking caps and address your real audience for these grandiose leaps. It's not the ticket-buying public, the City, or some real estate hotshot you are tasked with convincing. You have to sell this vision on a whole room full of VERY risk-averse donors who have been char-broiled before by doing business with this city, who recall with every check they write how very very lucky they are that NEAQ recovered the fumble and built itself back a superior reputation amongst its industry peers. They once came within a whisker of bleeding out because of that very "Let's Make A Deal" politicking with local institutions some of us are assuming is so very easy. Their aversion to dealmaking risk is rooted in something very real. It doesn't go away by telling them "Get over yourselves and think big; we owe it to a world-class city". They don't see it that way. That aversion is a permanent navigational hazard with those trustees and donors, and it is your job as putative steward(s) of the organization to chart a path forward through those waters. Call a meeting with a bunch of wheelers-and-dealers and "Bada-bing! break out the cranes!" doesn't cut it. Sell the vision to the audience in the boardroom you are in, addressing the concerns of the trustees and donors in that boardroom. It's them you have to convince before anyone makes a deal.
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