What About Bob's Plan?

He's a sculptor and an entrepreneur, and he built the City Museum. Now Bob Cassilly has a "12th-hour" plan of salvation for the St. Louis Arena. But there are no believers at City Hall.

"If I were to go down as a child to the Kiel Center, it looks like the world headquarters for Baskin-Robbins motivational courses. It doesn't have it. It's got no personality."

Having made his personal pitch to the mayor, concocted his clay model and waved his $250,000 check around in City Hall, Cassilly is not unaware of the odds.

"I'm trying to think of this like a snowball, although a snowball's chance in hell might be more accurate," he says. "You see me out there on a bulldozer, out there building big fish and making mounds. They say 200,000 cars go by there a day; they might see this and say, 'Hey, I think that's a good idea.' I'd have this place such a show by springtime. People would be going by seeing that Don Quixote is out there beating the windmills."

And in the end, Cassilly believes it would sell. "It would be interesting enough and different enough. If you want something in real estate, you have to offer something that no one else will offer." Getting rid of a funky relic like the Arena, he says, would be "tearing down the only thing the city has."

But Cassilly realizes that the only event that is delaying its demise is the papal visit; the lot is needed for parking. The city just isn't interested in taking what it considers to be a gamble on prime real estate. And Cassilly's timing is bad, he realizes.

"I have no objection with the reasonableness at this late hour of saying no. I can't intellectually say that's wrong. But emotionally, nobody wants this thing to happen, and it's being done by people who have a proven failure record," says Cassilly. "They'll look back in 10 years and say, 'How could they have done that

?'

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