Saturday, January 9, 2010


Those of us who voluntarily choose to reside in Northern Indiana should all thank God for the University of Notre Dame. Many ex-students from around the country and the world have elected to stay in the community after graduation remaining a loyal core support group, and they add significantly to the quality of life in Michiana.

Recently Forbes magazine released the results of a financial impact survey that reported Notre Dame as the second most valuable college football program in the country. The survey used a set of standardized revenue and expense criteria, and the results indicated that the Fighting Irish program generated $108 million. That was only second to the University of Texas football revenue of $119 million. The top ten schools following Texas and Notre Dame were Penn State, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, Georgia, and Oklahoma.

Additionally, the study indicated that Notre Dame’s dividend from funds that flowed back to the University as a whole, and to other athletic programs totaled $38 million. Most revealing was the fact that St. Joseph County was the only county in the nation in which incremental spending topped $10 million on home football weekends. When you consider the fact that Notre Dame has six home football games that is a staggering $60 million flowing directly into the local economy.

Considering the recent serious economic problems facing our nation, and specifically Northern Indiana, we should all be most thankful for Notre Dame’s presence. Unemployment remains very high in the area with the faltering automobile industry and the weak recreational vehicle business in the dumps.

Fortunately, the University is the #1 employer in the region and its economic impact is vital for maintaining the quality of life in Michiana. Just consider the additional economic impact of the salaries paid to the professors and staff, the money that flows into taxes, local retail business, and the real estate market. The University is to be commended, too, for contributing substantial dollars to support various local projects, and they willingly pay taxes for several University operations despite their tax-free status as an educational institution. Life in the local community is vastly different when the students are on campus versus when they are on vacation breaks.

Considering the appalling fiscally irresponsible political leadership in both South Bend and St. Joseph County, the existence of Notre Dame is essential and much appreciated. The economic impact of Notre Dame Football is one thing, but the over-all influence of the University to the quality of life is significant.

Notre Dame cannot and should not be expected to solve all the problems facing this community, but they have been a beacon of positive influence that impacts every person residing and working in this community. Someday the citizens of St. Joseph County will demand that their political leadership be held accountable for fiscal integrity. There is a limit to how high taxes can be raised, and that day of reckoning is just over the horizon.

I sometimes think that the South Bend community has never gotten over the closing of the Studebaker automobile plant in the 1960s, the Drewry Brewing facility in the early 1970s, and the Ball Band/Uniroyal plant in nearby Mishawaka in the 1990s. When change happens local government must adapt or it will perish, which is exactly what is happening. AM General, manufacturer of the military Hummer and the Hummer H-2 and H-3, is now reducing employment, and the College Football Hall of Fame is moving to Atlanta, so the necessary reductions in spending must occur immediately or South Bend will become another Detroit or Flint. Government at all levels, local, regional, and national, cannot continue to spend what they do not have. There is a limit to wanton taxation.

Seriously, let your Commander make a suggestion to solve the numerous problems facing both South Bend and St. Joseph County. With a long proven ability to administrate and raise money it would be a good idea to turn over the operation of local and county governance to the University of Notre Dame. Their record of serving the poor, strong achievements in education and financial solvency suggest that the University is the answer.

There are voices within our community that feel Notre Dame is arrogant and exerts excessive influence, but Notre Dame cannot and should not be chastised, because it does put its money where its mouth is. I do not agree with everything the University does, but I would hate to reside here without its numerous positive contributions to our daily lives. Without the University of Notre Dame, South Bend would quickly resemble Yucca Flats.


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