[OC] The Best MLS Player from Each Country That's Fielded One: Part 1 (UEFA)
Throughout its first 25 years, Major League Soccer has seen players from all different corners of the globe, each with their own career story. Whether it be a guy like Tim Melia or Chris Wondolowski who were scrappy guys that came out of nowhere to be stars in this league, or world famous names such as Zlatan, Beckham, and Henry, the league's history of big names is as diverse as they come. Let's take a look at the best player from each country around the globe. This will be based on national team allegiance. Today, we'll be leading with Europe! Please note that this is my opinion, and in some cases the decisions were tough; I'll be sure to add in honorable mentions where I can, or add notes. Albania: Shkëlzen Gashi ( COL 2016-18) Short list to pick from here, as Gashi's only competition is Jahmir Hyka and Hamdi Salihi. Gashi gets the nod, if nothing else, for his huge 2016 season, where he scored 10 regular season goals (one of which was that year's Goal of the Year) as the Rapids damn near won the Shield. The madlad then went and one-upped that with his absurd equalizer in the playoffs against the Galaxy. His last two years weren't as fruitful, but man, when he was on he could pull something out of nowhere. Armenia: Yura Movsisyan ( KC 2006-07, RSL 2007-09 & 2016-18, CHI 2018) Four choices here, although in the end it's Movsisyan winning out over Harut Karapetyan, who played a couple seasons in the 90s for the Galaxy, San Jose, and Tampa Bay. The fourth pick in a strong 2006 MLS SuperDraft out of Pasadena City College, Movsisyan is mostly associated with RSL, who acquired him in a 2007 trade. With the Claret and Cobalt, he would tally 15 goals in 53 regular season appearances, and in 2009 he'd hoist the club's first MLS Cup. That'd be his last game with RSL until 2016 after some time in Europe with Randers, Krasnodar, and Spartak Moscow (even sharing the Russian PL Golden Boot in 2012/13 with Wanderson). He'd put up a similar clip of 16 in 57 before being waived and finishing his MLS career with four scoreless games with Chicago. Austria: Daniel Royer ( NYRB 2016-pres.) The choice here was largely Royer vs. Andreas Ivanschitz, who was a regular starter for Seattle's first MLS Cup, but I can't say no to a man with over 100 MLS matches played and three straight 10-goal seasons. In all comps, the former Austria Vienna man is just two goals behind Thierry Henry for third on the Red Bulls' all time goal scoring list. Belarus: Sasha Gotsmanov ( COL 2005) Gotsmanov qualifies by default as the only Belarusian player in MLS history. The Minsk native (and son of former Soviet and Belarusian international Sergei Gotsmanov) played one (1) single game for Colorado in October 2005, against RSL. Belgium: Laurent Ciman ( MTL 2015-17, LAFC 2018, TFC 2019-pres.) Shouts to Roland Lamah, who had his moments in Dallas, and Jelle van Damme, who played a season and a half for the Galaxy, but Ciman is the obvious choice. While he's fallen off a cliff as he's gotten older, he's a three-time All-Star and won Defender of the Year in his first MLS season; in his second, he played for Belgium at Euro 2016. At 35, he's lost a step and probably should only be used in emergencies, but at his best he was an elite MLS center back that could also be deployed at right back. Bosnia & Herzegovina: Haris Medunjanin ( PHI 2017-19, CIN 2020-pres.) The first one where I'm not totally confident in my pick, as Baggio Hušidić made this tricky (and as a Union fan I'm afraid of bias). But at his best, Haris is an assist machine (30 in four MLS seasons so far), and a threat on set pieces; the madlad even scored an Olimpico this year. His left foot is probably the best the Union have ever had. While his commitment to defense was nonexistent, give him the ball and he could spray a pass anywhere. Bulgaria: Hristo Stoichkov ( CHI 2000-02, DC 2003) One of three former Ballon d'Or winners to play in MLS (the others being Lothar Matthaus and Kaka, although "playing" is generous for the former), Stoichkov spent the last four seasons of his career in MLS, scoring 22 goals in 72 regular season matches for Chicago and DC. In his first season, a 9 goal in 18 match outing for the Fire, he also won the US Open Cup, scoring the opening goal of the final, a 2-1 win over Miami. (The winning goal, by the way, was scored by our old friend Owen Goal.) Croatia: Damir Kreilach ( RSL 2018-pres.) Mr. Miyagi's favorite MLS player for his crane kick equalizer in the playoffs, the former Rijeka and Union Berlin man has proven to be an excellent utility piece and core part of RSL throughout his time there, scoring 26 goals and chipping in 14 assists in 86 regular season matches and playing all over the damn place (naturally a central midfielder, he's probably still RSL's best forward). At 31, he still has a lot to give. MLS has seen a huge influx of Croats lately, though; before Kreilach's 2018 signing there had only been four Croatian players in MLS history, two of whom barely played. Currently, there are five on active rosters. Czechia: Luboš Kubík ( CHI 1998-2001, DAL 2001) Czech players have had a good hit rate in MLS. In his lone MLS season, Bořek Dočkal led the league in assists, and Zdeněk Ondrášek was a very solid piece for Dallas, albeit one whose MLS time was brief. But no. We have to go with Kubik. The sweeper was Best XI twice, in 1998 and 1999, and won Defender of the Year in 1998 helping Chicago to a MLS Cup-Open Cup double. He'd win another Open Cup two years later, before being traded to Dallas in 2001 and retiring due to injury. So many lethal counterattacks started on the foot of this man, and he is rightfully seen as one of the greatest defenders the league has ever seen. Denmark: Jimmy Nielsen ( KC 2010-13) I debated going WAYYYYYYY off the board here and throwing out Miklos Molnar. His time in MLS was brief, just the 2000 season before he retired, but the man was the best attacking piece on a Cup winner. He could have balled out if he didn't retire early. But nah. We're going with Casino Jimmy, one of the keys towards Kansas City's early 2010s turnaround. A two time All-Star, Nielsen was Goalkeeper of the Year in 2012, a year that also saw him win the Open Cup with the Wiz (on penalties, because KC and penalties, name a more iconic duo at this point). In 2013, he capped off his career by winning MLS Cup, again on penalties, while playing with broken ribs. England: Bradley Wright-Phillips ( 2013-2019, LAFC 2020) This league, man. The list of English players to have represented in MLS is a long one, full of iconic names. Ashley Cole. David Beckham. Frank Lampard. Steven Gerrard. Jermain Defoe. Wayne Rooney. Hell, even Bradley's brother Shaun. But nope. Many of those guys are the butt of many MLS jokes. BWP, on the other hand, is one of the greatest goal scorers the league has ever seen, with two Golden Boots to his name and well over a century of league goals. He was a part of 3 Shield winning teams, and made CONCACAF's Best XI in 2018. And it all started with a quiet trial in 2013 after Charlton dumped him. This. League. And This. Man. Even as a fan of Philly who doesn't care much for the Red Bulls, I respect this dude and everything he's done. I hope he gets another year after winning Comeback Player of the Year this year. Estonia: Joel Lindpere ( NYRB 2010-12, CHI 2013) The only other option here was Erik Sorga, who could dethrone Lindpere as he came to MLS at a very young age. But it's unlikely, as Lindpere was quietly very solid for the Red Bulls during his time. The Tallinn native was a two-time All-Star, and in 2010 he was named the Red Bulls' team MVP. Finland: Alex Ring ( NYC 2017-2020, AUS pres.) T O P I C A L There's a few fairly talented Finns in MLS right now that could make this interesting (I really like Robin Lod's game, and Lassi Lappelainen would be excellent for Montreal if he'd stop getting hurt). Ring however has proven his worth across 4 seasons, including time as NYC's captain. Over 10,000 MLS minutes, mostly for good teams, as a defensive anchor, he will be a fantastic tone-setter for the new Austin team. France: Thierry Henry ( NYRB 2010-14) Oh man, as an Ireland fan I wanted to give this to literally anyone else. I am still bitter, dammit. His best competition is probably Aurelien Collin, who has a closetful of trophies (including a Best XI and MLS Cup MVP). But no...it's Henry. When a big name comes to MLS, what people want to see is someone who treats the league with respect. Henry did that. Not only was he dominant on the pitch, a three-time Best XI nomination, he also respected the history of the club he played for and gave 100%, even though he was getting up there in the years. He's a Red Bulls and MLS legend...as much as I curse that godforsaken hand Georgia: Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili ( SJ 2017-20) It looks like the San Jose chapter of Vako's career is done and dusted. While the former Vitesse man struggled for consistency, he did put up 26 goals and 13 assists across four MLS seasons for the Quakes, including 10 while being coached by Mikael Stahre, which should probably get him and Wondo some sort of award. We'll see what's next for him, if he leaves MLS or goes back to Europe. His only competition was Quakes teammate Guram Kashia. Germany: Bastian Schweinsteiger ( CHI 2017-19) I'm...actually not sure about this one. I actually changed this while writing, as I very nearly chose Julian Gressel; the former Rookie of the Year has two 10-assist seasons under his belt, and Kai Wagner has also been one of the league's better fullbacks for Philadelphia; Schweinsteiger was solid enough for Chicago in his advanced age for some very frustrating teams (and even moved positions to center back!)...but man, I don't know. Germany is weird. For a country with such a great footballing tradition, the pickings are fairly slim. Arne Friedrich had one good year for Chicago before injuries claimed his career. Lottar Matthaus was as committed to this league as Schalke are to winning football matches. Stefan Aigner was stifled by Anthony Hudson going galaxy brain. Torsten Frings...existed. I dunno. Greece: Alexandros Tabakis ( ATL 2017) The only Greek in MLS history...and our second one game wonder. Atlanta's FOURTH string keeper in 2017, he managed to sneak into a game against Minnesota with Brad Guzan on international duty, Alec Kann injured, and Kyle Reynish sent off during the match. Atlanta lost 3-2. He's now in USL. Hungary: Nemanja Nikolić ( CHI 2017-19) Dániel Sallói and Krisztián Németh had their moments, but the winner is Nikolić, who came to MLS from the Ekstraklasa and immediately won the Golden Boot. His totals diminished in the three seasons he spent with Chicago, but 51 goals in 96 appearances isn't too shabby at all - it's second in Fire history behind Ante Razov. Iceland - Guðmundur Þórarinsson ( NYC 2020-pres.) Not much choice, 3 guys, all of whom were mostly bench guys. I almost went with Kristinn Steindorsson here on the merits of "he didn't have a penalty saved by Rodrigo Schlegel." Israel: Gadi Kinda ( SKC 2020-pres.) It was either him or Dedi Ben Dayan, really. And I nearly went with the former Colorado left back, but nah, Kinda is very much the superior player. The midfielder born in Ethiopia, Kinda shone brightly in his first season in KC, with 6 goals and 4 assists in his debut season. He'll be a DP next season. Italy: Sebastian Giovinco ( TOR 2015-18) A signing that changed an entire club. Before Giovinco, the Reds were a laughingstock. He came in, won a Golden Boot and MVP right away, led the league in assists, made Best XI three years in a row, led them to their first playoff game, their first MLS Cup final, their first MLS Cup win, and a historic treble. And they damn near won CCL too. The Atomic Ant was must-see from Day 1. It's not just because of him that Toronto is now one of MLS's elite...but he was a huge part of changing that culture. 83 goals in 142 games in all comps. And he dished out his fair share of assists too, with a telepathic partnership with Jozy. Latvia: Raivis Hščanovičs ( TOR 2010) Not much to write about here. 14 games for a bad Reds team. Gets in by default with no other Latvian MLS players. Liechtenstein: Nicholas Hasler ( TOR 2017-18, CHI 2018-19, SKC 2019) Another one by default. 66 games as a utilityman. Won MLS Cup and the Shield, though. Lithuania: Vytautas Andriuškevičius ( POR 2016-18, DC 2018) Only other choice was Edgaras Jankauskas, a forward who played 14 games for the Revs. Vytas played 37 for Portland and zero for DC. Luxembourg: Maxime Chanot ( NYC 2016-pres.) Another one by default but this one's an actually really solid player that finished fourth in Defender of the Year voting in 2019. We take those. Malta: Etienne Barbera ( VAN 2012) 2 games in 2012. Only Maltese player in MLS. Montenegro: Branko Bošković ( DC 2010-12) Pretty much every other Montenegrin player played less than 20 games in MLS. Bošković played 43 before returning to Europe for family reasons. 7 assists in his final season though, which is technically something. Netherlands: Johan Kappelhof ( CHI 2016-pres.) Much like Germany, bright footballing tradition, very shaky MLS history. Which is weird because the Eredivisie exports a lot of guys to MLS. Also, I'm excluding Kelvin Leerdam, as he is probably changing his international allegiance to Suriname. So I'm going with 2017 All-Star Kappelhof, who I think is still fairly solid. But really the choices aren't great. Dave van den Burgh? Roland Alberg scored a hat trick once I guess? Danny Koevermans was decent but injured all the time? Maybe it's a hot take. It probably is. North Macedonia: Oka Nikolov ( PHI 2013) Never actually played, only in a friendly. Watch this space though as North Macedonia is apparently courting LAFC's Danny Musovski. Northern Ireland: Johnny Steele ( RSL 2012, NYRB 2013-14) Another case of shaky opposition, it was either Steele or Steve Morrow, who played 41 games for Dallas in the aughts. Steele played regularly for a Shield winner, the 2013 Red Bulls. Easy peasy. Norway: Vadim Demidov Ola Kamara ( CLB 2016-17, LAG 2018, DC 2019-pres.) Adama Diomande is the main competition here. Kamara's first stint in MLS was a smashing success, scoring 48 goals in 90 regular season matches for Columbus and the Galaxy (he was traded for Gyasi Zardes before 2018). A brief foray to China followed, and while he's back in MLS with DC he hasn't quite been the same. Still a good player on his day, maybe just the Bennyball effect. Poland: Piotr Nowak ( CHI 1998-2002) When I think of early Chicago, Nowak and the earlier-mentioned Kubik are the first two names that come to mind. Kubik held down the back while Nowak was the chief creator in the midfield. Three-time best XI, three-time All-Star, and MLS Cup MVP. ...can I drink my water now? Portugal: José Gonçalves ( NE 2013-16) Gonçalves fell off a cliff in his latter years, but in his first MLS season he won Defender of the Year and in his second he was a key part of a team that made the MLS Cup final and damn near won the thing. Runner up here is Nani who is probably closing in. EDIT: I also forgot to mention Pedro Santos, thanks to the Crew fans who pointed that one out. I still think Gonçalves pips him for his 2013 if nothing else, but Santos is probably closer than Nani. Republic of Ireland: Robbie Keane ( LAG 2011-16) A LOT closer than you think; Time Person of the CenturyJuventus legend Ronnie O'Brien was two-time best XI himself. But nonono. This is Robbie freaking Keane. When we see these big name Euro guys interested in MLS, this is the man we want them to be. Hypercompetitive and holding guys accountable on and off the pitch, and scoring for fun. 83 goals in 125 MLS regular season appearances. Best XI four times. 2014 MVP. MLS Cup MVP in 2014. A closetful of team awards including 3 MLS Cups. This man was a baller, and frankly his departure was the beginning of the Galaxy decline into irrelevance, but that's a story for another time. Romania: Alexandru Mitriță ( NYC 2019-pres.?) Question mark because he's on loan and I have no idea if it'll be permanent, but he was punted out by the Pigeons just as he was really starting to break out. He scored 12 goals in his debut season last year but filled in nicely this year while Maxi Moralez was injured. EDIT: NYC fans have informed me he wasn't punted out, but was loaned out to be closer to his pregnant wife. My apologies. Honorable mention: Alex Zotincă, who played for the Wizards and Chivas USA in the aughts. Brave man. Russia: Igor Simutenkov ( KC 2002-04) Not a lot to pick from here either. 49 games, 12 goals for this forward from Moscow, who now serves as an assistant coach at Zenit. Scotland: John Spencer ( COL, 2001-04) Give Johnny Russell another few years and he'll pass Spencer, but for now I'm leaning the latter. Spencer as a coach was frustrating as hell, but as a player he was Best XI twice and an MVP finalist once. Dude could score goals despite battling injuries in his time in MLS. Just don't let him sign Kris Boyd. Then you lose to Cal FC. No one wants that. Serbia: Aleksandar Katai ( 2018-19, 2020) FROM A SPORTING PERSPECTIVE. And mostly due to a weak pool. Runner up was probably someone like Miloš Kocić. 18 goals in 62 games for Chicago before getting yeeted back to Serbia for Bad People Reasons Slovakia: Albert Rusnák ( RSL 2017-pres.) He has tenure on Ján Greguš, who's the closest competitor, but Rusnák is also good. He followed up a 14-assist debut season (4th in the league) with back to back 10 goal seasons before struggling this year with injury. Slovenia: Robert Berić ( CHI 2020-pres.) Once he got acclimated to MLS, the goals came, and Chicago has its successor to Nikolić up top. He finished with 12 goals in his debut season, tied for second in the league with Ruidiaz and Zardes. Also, from what I saw early on, seems like he's a dark-arts type of guy that gets in your head. That's fun. Spain: David Villa ( NYC 2015-18) I really didn't want to put him here due to recent allegations, and the fact that Pozuelo has already matched his MVP and two Best XI performances.... 77 goals in 117 games though, that's tough to pass on. Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimović ( LAG 2018-19) It's Zlatan. He pretty much dragged a sorry LA organization to something resembling competitiveness. What the hell did you expect? (Anton Tinnerholm made this hard, though) EDIT: Forgot Gustav Svensson as well in my honorable mentions. Switzerland: Stefan Frei ( TOR 2009-13, SEA 2014-pres.) Pretty self-explanatory, one of the most accomplished keepers in MLS history and with a closetful of hardware. And all it took Seattle to get him was a late first round pick that pinged around so much that it was eventually traded for a coach. Turkey: Sercan Güvenışık ( SJ 2012) 5 games that year. No one else has flown the Turkish flag in MLS. Ukraine: Dema Kovalenko ( CHI 1999-2002, DC 2002-05, NYRB 2006-08, RSL 2008, LAG 2008-10) I'm afraid he'd break my legs if I didn't. One of the most physical and downright dirty players the league has ever seen. Made nearly 300 appearances though, and has one each of the 3 major US trophies (MLS Cup, USOC, Shield), all with a different team. Wales: Andy Dorman ( NE 2004-07, 2013-15) Dorman was a key part of that real good Revs team from the mid-aughts, and just beats out Carl Robinson. He made 112 appearances in his first stint, and played in 3 MLS Cup finals, though they famously lost all three. The Revs brought him back in 2013 after some time in Scotland and England, and was playing semipro in the area as recently as 2018.
When the league inevitably expands to 32 teams, here are the ten cities that I think should be considered for the two expansion franchises.
It goes without saying, but one franchise should definitely end up in Seattle, as the Supersonics of course. It's been quite a letdown for the city that PBC moved the team to OKC after their acquisition of the team. The city is now updating the Climate Pledge Arena, formally known as the KeyArena, (one of the reasons for the team's relocation) with the arrival of the NHL team, the Seattle Kraken. The Sonic fans have been clear and vocal since the move that they could still support an NBA franchise without a doubt.
The state of Missouri surprisingly does not house an NBA franchise and hasn't since the departure of the Kansas City Kings in 1985. The city seems to support their professional sports franchises and has an arena downtown that could be suitable for the potential NBA team (with some renovating I'd presume - it seems nice but I am not familiar enough with the facility). It seems the market is significant enough to support an NBA franchise so it should be an option.
The city has an MLB and NFL franchise, so it is not inconceivable that they could support an NBA franchise (being that they did up until 1972 with the Cincinnati Royals, before they moved to Kansas City). I'm not sure who the NBA fans in Cincinnati support, but I'm guessing the Cavs aren't popular enough to have strong support across the entire state of Ohio. Kentucky, just south of the city across the Ohio River, has a significant passion for basketball, so that could fortify the market/support for the potential team. A lot has changed since the early seventies but it is still a question whether or not they could fund a new arena in the city or they can just renovate the arena downtown (Heritage Bank Center).
Las Vegas is clearly a viable option for an additional professional franchise after the city has proven it can support the Golden Knights and, seemingly, the Raiders (who already have a broad fanbase). They have a viable arena to play in and can gain support with tie-ins with the casinos to help occupy the arena with visitors as they develop a local fan base. The NBA already has a presence there with summer league as well so I can see it happening.
I guess we will get a general idea of how much the city can support an NBA team with the Raptors playing in the city for the upcoming season (obviously without attendance given the circumstances). The Rays have their issues with attendance and the Bucs are perennial losers sans a few years in the late nineties-early 2000s (I've actually been a big Bucs fan since 1997, as I grew up in Los Angeles with out an NFL team at the time), so it is up for debate if they can support an NBA team, especially with Orlando being so close by. It is a significant market and the Lightning seems to garner a lot of support and have a nice arena downtown they could share with the potential NBA franchise (something they'll be doing this year), so it seems feasible.
This poor city, a city I love and plan on moving to one day, has lost two professional franchises to Los Angeles (and the Rockets to Houston). Both the Chargers and Clippers should still be in SD in my opinion, given their putrid reception in Los Angeles and the significance of the city of San Diego. The Clippers are still not accepted in Los Angeles after all these years and are only there because dumbass Donald Sterling forced the relocation in the 80s. The city has struggled to fund stadiums in the past but it would be great to see an arena downtown, a la Petco Park. Worst case, they renovate the Pechanga Arena (formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena) but realistically I'm not sure the city wants an NBA franchise, I have no clue.
No reason to think they couldn't support an NBA franchise again. Basketball has grown tremendously in Canada since the days of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the country has produced several high-level players in recent years. The Raptors are the lone team north of the border, so no reason to think a second team isn't viable. Vancouver has Rogers Arena ready to go so there wouldn't be an issue with an arena for the potential team.
Look, Pittsburgh could barely support the Pipers back in the ABA days (albeit a long time ago), so I'm not sure how popular basketball is in the city. It is not a huge market but the city shows strong support for the Steelers and Penguins (and I'm sure the Pirates to some extent even with their decades-long struggles). I think Pittsburgh is a beautiful, underrated city, with PNC Park being my favorite MLB ballpark. The potential team could share the arena with the Penguins so there wouldn't be an issue having to fund a new arena. Also, I know the city loves the black/yellow color scheme for their franchises so that is one less thing to worry about.
As mentioned above with Kansas City, it is surprising the entire state of Missouri doesn't have at least one NBA team. St. Louis had the Hawks for 13 years, before they moved to Atlanta, and housed the fabled Spirits of St. Louis of the ABA, so no reason to think the city couldn't support an NBA franchise again. I highly doubt both cities mentioned would get both expansion franchises, so I'm not sure which city is the more viable option. The team could share the Enterprise Center with their NHL team, the Blues, so there wouldn't be an issue funding an arena.
I know it is very close to DC, but if DC and Baltimore can both support an NFL and MLB team, why can't Baltimore support an NBA franchise again, being they had an NBA franchise (that moved to DC, coincidently) in the past. I know the city has had its struggles for some time, but it seems like a possible landing spot to consider. I am not familiar with the condition of the Royal Farms Arena, but the team would ostensibly have a suitable arena to play in.
[WTS] U.S. Trade tokens, type coins, Morgans, invasion money, mint/proof sets, Eisenhower dollars, and other graded U.S. silver/gold coins.
MAKE OFFERS. I'm selling off a chunk of my collection so I can justify buying other stuff I want, and I'm trying to price it to move. Proof: https://imgur.com/a/RHJaHkN Shipping will be $8 for Priority Mail small flat rate box (or at cost for larger flat-rate boxes), or $4 if you are at less than 10 oz total and want the First Class Mail option. If you want to buy multiple pieces, feel free to make an offer. Worst I can say is no. Obviously the grades listed are my own opinions - see pics to verify for yourself. Payment options accepted (in order of preference): Venmo, Google Pay, Cash App, PPFF, Zelle, PPG&S (add 4%).
[800x]UNC 10-peso Japanese invasion notes from Philippine occupation in WWII. With original Japanese brown paper wrapper. Sold as one lot. Feel free to look at eBay and see how great a deal this is. $1800$1600 FOR ALL - OBO. SERIOUSLY, MAKE AN OFFER.
In peak offseason form, I decided to anagram all the draft picks. I did have two rules, I could not use the original player's name (Example: Brian Burns, could not be Brain Burns), and I couldn't add a suffix to the name. There could definitely be better ones, I used this website. I also, did this last year!
Florida to San Jose California, 1964 Corvette, 1986 timeframe
Florida to San Jose in a 1964 Corvette. My buddy spent every penny he had buying it with nothing left over for a tune-up or fresh tires before we took off. (Mistake #1) He picked me up @ Hartsfield in Atlanta at 2 a.m, (long before cellphones....coordinating my late arrival was difficult) we ate at a Waffle House at 3 a.m. and off we went. It was to be all blue highways, back roads, 2-lanes, no interstates or national chain restaurants from that point forward. A copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was to be our Bible. We saw innumerable "See Rock City" signs and drove through the apparent fireworks capital of the free world @ the Georgia/TN border. The damn Vette kept breaking down, first a clutch in Nashville, later a U-joint near Clarksville. Carb troubles in Nevada. I remember we saw “Weird Science” at the Clarksville theater, long before theaters were all 24-plexes. Afterwards at a bar we told a pair of local ladies we were “Location Agents” in town scouting sites for a film that was going to be shot there. Remember, this was pre-HIV... We were looking for a LAKE that the SUN came up over in the East.......\snicker, snicker** What surprised us most were the full size satellite TV dishes behind every farmhouse across America. From nothing to 250+ channels with nothing but a check and a bootleg converter. Rural America had gotten wired. Well, dished. News, or what passed for it, was now broadcast 24 hours a day. (Mistake #2?) Mosquitoes ate us alive at some state park in Arkansas where we’d foolishly chosen to camp rather than get a cheap motel room. We had a cassette walkman to pass the time before sleep came. The waitress at the one cafe in some lonely small town in Kansas assured us “Charlie,” the Frito Lay guy, came by EVERY DAY to refill the rack. We've joked about "Charlie" ever since. We trailed a shiny stainless Kraft tanker truck across the loneliest highway in America, drafting for better fuel mileage, until he locked up the brakes and turned down a deserted dirt road. Trust me. There were no cows, and no dairies down that road. Must have been Area 51, or something else, cause a “milk truck” had no business being there. Fortunately we just missed creaming his rear bumper. By this point we were getting around 7 mpg's belching black smoke , until a “19 year Chevy dealership mechanic” in a tiny town in the middle of east nowhere, Nevada, told us “No problem, one bowl on your Holley double pumper has sagged, I’ll file it flat and double gasket it and we were on our way again having barely finished lunch, back into, barely, double digit gas mileage. It was AS IF he had been placed there, just for us. We camped among the stars in a mountaintop State Park near Eloy, Nevada, decided THIS was the place to hang out after nuclear war. You could see cars approaching from 50 miles away. Big cave, glacier full of icemelt pure water, deer everywhere. Survival city. The gubbmit was inexplicably stringing wire and fiber-optic cables into the cave. Maybe they had the same idea. A tiny casino with two slot machines and some serious alcoholics was Eloy's entertainment offering. It seemed at every breakdown we ran into JUST the right person to fix the ‘64 for us, although the 10 pound metal glove box door continued slamming into my knees all the way to San Jose. @#[email protected]!!!! Everywhere we went there was someone wanting to talk to us about the burnt orange, white-striped Vette. Either a parent had owned one, a neighbor or their friend had owned one, or a good friend / cousin had died crashing one. We heard, or shall I say endured, endless Vette stories. (As I do again today, it’s the price of admission). A fourth and final flat occurred near Lake Tahoe. I was ready to pull my hair out at Dave's frugality. Stopping at endless gas stations looking for ANY used tire that would fit. We were running for home at that point, late on our schedule. I think we did the final 200 miles without a spare. A fly fishing trip on the South Fork of the North something river outside Denver had been the hi-light of the trip, along with an impromptu color TV repair at the cabin. My buddy pulled a trout out on his first cast, having never fished before. "To catch a fish one must THINK like a fish" he had pontificated,..... and then proceeded to JUST DO IT. Rest of us were amazed. I got skunked by a noob! A cold solder joint in an old TV was repaired with a nail, held in Vice-Grips, heated red hot over a stove burner. Instantly the football field was green once again. My companion impressed the shit out of me with that piece of wizardry. Forty years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. We ultimately had to do about 17 miles on an Interstate somewhere in Utah. No way around. There are no road trips to be had, no stories to be gained, blasting 80mph on a superslab and eating in chain restaurants. Never have been, never will be. 2-lanes, diners, cafe's, that's where you see and talk to America. We learned to take the road less traveled and to take ALL the time needed with everyone who had a story to tell us. We didn't take nearly enough (film) pictures. Mistake #3.
History of Clifton Hill Part 5 (Final): What Could Have Been, and What Can Still Be
Thank you to everyone who has followed this series or voted for it's creation. I'm glad you've enjoyed it and I'm always happy to spread the important history of the amusement industry, especially pertaining to the place that inspired me to go into the industry. For parts 1-4 scroll back in this sub or click my profile. In 1989, Welland Securities, who owned the entire south-west side of the Hill, would develop the final portion of unused land on Clifton Hill. They would become HOCO (Harry Oakes Company) and gain ownership of almost all the attractions on land they leased out. This included Movieland, The Space Spiral Tower and the Cliffside Motel. The only attractions that would continue being leased were Ripley's and Circus World, meaning HOCO not only owned all the land on the South-West side of the hill, they now ran everything between Circus World and Ripley's, as well as the Fudge Factory (in its original spot) and an ice cream stand immediately down the hill from Circus World. They planned to keep everything that was on the hill but build on it. Movieland was remodeled and the outside was given a more noticeable Egyptian theme to match the lobby. This meant large lion statues and Costello's talking pharaoh. The lobby was remodeled as well. Rather than a cameraman and a director filming Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, they would now be filming Costello's Indiana Jones figure, who lowered up and down on a rope above a fogging pit with a cobra rising out of it. Many of the early talkie-era stars in the hall immediately after the entrance (along with Elizabeth Taylor) were moved to 2 large display cases in the middle of the attraction with multiple figures, instead of each one having their own scene. In their original spot just inside the entrance an intentionally scary scene was created to match the popular Indiana Jones series. Many of the figures Costello had added since he became the museum's artist were slightly frightening, like a lunging alligator or a startling Joker scene with a machine gun sound effect. The museum had been expanded at the end, and a large horror section had been added, with many figures like the mummy being from the same mold as the House of Frankenstein/Castle Dracula mummys. Unlike when it would move to it's current location in 2005, the old location's chicken exit was placed before the horror section rather than the haunted house portion. In fact, there was no haunted house section, many of the figures that would end up in the haunted house section of the new location were simply scattered throughout the museum. Many of the figures in the horror section of the original museum were actually less scary and less animated than the Jurassic park scene or the alligator encountered earlier in the museum. To prevent unsuspecting parents who had no clue what kind of attraction this was dragging their children in and expecting static figures of washed-up movie stars, getting the living daylights scared out of them, then end ending up filing complaints with HOCO's customer service department, an intentionally scary scene was put at the beginning. This let people know what they were walking in to, an experience rather than a museum. Costello designed figures behind plexiglass such as a man upside down in a cocoon thrashing around, a skull that popped up from the floorboards in a scene full of snakes, a man on a bed of spikes that fell towards you, and a scene with spiders on fishing line "jumping" all over a rotting corpse. The Cliffside Motel was amalgamated into a wing of the Quality Inn, and the driveway into it off the hill was removed as it was no longer necessary because it could be accessed from the Quality Inn parking lot. In the driveway's place was now a large empty space between Circus World and Movieland, with the Space Spiral Tower (with a relatively small footprint) stuck in the middle. HOCO called upon attraction design and layout firm White Hutchison Leisure Learning Group (WHLLG) to design an attraction around the Space Spiral that would use the final undeveloped land on Clifton Hill. And so WHLLG designed Dazzleland Family Fun Centre. Dazzleland was a courtyard of buildings arranged in roughly the same layout as the Great Canadian Midway (for reasons we'll get to later) that sits on the land now. The buildings around the outside of the courtyard were long and narrow, picture a courtyard of carnival game trailers but permanent, appealing buildings. These buildings included a Skee-ball building, a sports game building (basketball games, football toss etc.), a racing game building, a pinball building, a funnel cake shop, and the prize counter. In the back corner, roughly where the XD Theatre now is in the midway, was a larger building: an arcade housing video games and more pinball machines. In the middle of the courtyard was a small carousel, and a small building housing games that dispensed their own prizes (claw machines, prize egg games, etc.) and coin-op kiddie rides. The Space Spiral was incorporated into Dazzleland, still being accessible directly off the hill. As mentioned in part 3, the tower was exactly where the Fudge Factory now is, as the circular store was once the loading area for the tower. At this time the snack bars beside the tower right on the hill were constructed: a pretzel/hotdog stand and an ice cream stand, both of which are still there. The Wendy's was built on top of Circus World, replacing the mini golf that had formerly been on the attraction's roof. Across the entrance to Dazzleland's courtyard from Wendy's was a Domino's Pizza, roughly where the photo booth just to your right is when entering the Great Canadian Midway now. Between the Space Spiral and the Dominos was a fortune teller machine built right into the wall: "Ask the Brain". The brain still lives on inside Movieland, except now he wants a loonie instead of a quarter. Just up the hill from the Space Spiral, on top of the hot dog and ice cream stand, a small sports bar was built. Very little is known about this sports bar, but obvious remnants of it still exists. The area of Boston Pizza closest to the hill (the back corner near the kitchen, the bar area, and the raised dining area) was the originally the sports bar. It featured a small coin-op bowling lane, arcade games, and food. The stairs in the Midway up to Boston Pizza beside Ghostblasters is the original stairs up from Dazzleland to the sports bar. Additionally, the Boston Pizza entrance closer to the hill (not the one with the big bowling pin, other one) was the main entrance to the sports bar. Little is known about the bar, including it's name. It may not have had one, simply being part of the Dazzleland complex. Many of the areas in Dazzleland didn't have a name, simply having signs heralding "Arcade", "Sports Games", "Skeeball" rather than naming the areas like the "Game Factory", "Sports Zone" or "Strike! Rock 'n Bowl" like in the Midway. For this reason, the bar may have been nameless, simply being part of the Dazzleland complex, but it's unlikely a dining establishment geared at adult nightlife wouldn't have a name. Because the mini golf on Circus World's roof had been operated by the Cliffside Motel operators, HOCO acquired all the assets from it when they stopped leasing the land out. When the aforementioned Wendy's was built, the mini golf was moved just up the hill from the sports bar. It's entrance was right on the hill, but the course wrapped around the sports bar and ran back behind Dazzleland, between the back of Dazzleland and the parking lot of the Quality Inn. It would now be dinosaur themed and heavily landscaped. WHLLG designed the course and HOCO contracted Costello to build all the fiberglass dinosaurs. It's unknown what it's original name was, but in the early 90s, with the smash hit of Jurassic Park, it was renamed Dinosaur Park and given a similar logo. Up until the 2018 remodel, Boston Pizza had a patio. This patio was the exact location of the entrance to the mini golf, and the reason the restaurant's building curved in such a bizarre way surrounding the patio was originally to accommodate the course. Underneath the sports bar and mini golf and was an underground building accessible from a back corner of Dazzleland's courtyard. This area housed all of Dazzleland's miscellaneous ticket redemption games and 2 shooting galleries. The low-ceiling area of the Midway called the "Game Factory" is this original building. The Bonanaza Company shooting gallery is still there albeit heavily remodeled, but Blasteroids, an early project by arcade game company Lazer-Tron, was removed in 2016. Interestingly, the chase lights along the back wall of the Game Factory are Dazzleland holdovers. Between the shooting gallery and where what's left of the racing games now are is a bank of maintenance doors. If you get lucky and see them open, you'll see a stairs that was originally an entrance to Dazzleland from further up the street, beside Dinosaur Park. This now lets out somewhere in Boston Pizza's arcade (although I haven't been able to figure out where) and is used by staff to get from "a" to "b" faster. Dazzleland has been the hardest to dig up information on in my research on Clifton Hill. Although I now know what was in each of the buildings around the outside of this "courtyard", I haven't been able to find which one was where. The only things I've confirmed is where the video game building was, what was in the building in the middle, and confirmed that the Game Factory was originally part of Dazzleland. The rest is beyond me and my memories of it have long faded. If anyone worked here or visited it frequently and has any answers, they would be greatly appreciated. Additionally there was a small pool near the front with a Costello dragon figure in it that spit water out it's mouth. I've heard conflicting reports that this was just a fountain, and others saying it was a small bumper boat or RC boat attraction, but my guess is it was just a fountain as it seems like a pretty small pool. The same year, fiberglass dragon waterslides were added to the Quality Inn pool. Although bearing striking resemblance to Costello's dinosaurs and Dazzleland dragon, at least one more of each of the dragon slides exist, all the way down in Texas. It was originally thought this Texas waterpark bought them off HOCO when Quality Inn closed, but one of the Quality Inn dragons appeared on an episode of shipping wars going to Kansas and the other was recently found abandoned on a private residential property in Niagara, proving they are in fact not the ones at the Texas waterpark. This is evidence they may have been mass produced. By the time Dazzleland opened in 1989, it was the 8th arcade on the hill (after Circus World, Q-Balls Billiards Pub in Quality Inn, the arcade in Ripley's, the arcade in the Foxhead, the arcade in Castle Dracula, Funland in the basement of the House of Frankenstein, and an arcade that had recently opened in the Pilgrim Motel in their gift shop.) These were just the large-scale, dedicated arcades right on the hill. Many others could be found nearby in Maple Leaf Village, the Skylon, the Seagram, Pyramid Place and the Imperial Hotel as well as many mini golf courses and family fun centres along Lundy's Ln. and the QEW. Also, virtually every gift shop on Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave. had a game or 2. The mix of arcades, haunted houses, fast food, nightlife and stores selling t-shirts and posters had started a well-known rock culture in Niagara Falls among Southern Ontario youth. The epicenter of this was "Rock World", a rock-themed gift shop that had opened in 1983 on Centre St. (the street Clifton Hill becomes just above Victoria Ave.) They would later add a second story and build Rock Legends Wax Museum above it, with all the figures sculpted by the store's owner Pasquale Rammuno. In 1996, Maple Leaf Village was replaced by Casino Niagara, and many of the attractions found new homes on Victoria Ave., including Screamers and Nightmares. The Elvis Museum, Antique Auto Museum, 50s diner nightclub, and arcade all moved to Pyramid Place adjacent to the IMAX pyramid. Screamers prospered on Victoria Ave., and 2 "sequel attractions" were built in the early 2000s: Creatures of the Night on Victoria Ave. and Horror Manothe Zombie Zoo Nightclub on Centre St. Another attraction, Alien Encounter, would open at the corner of Victoria Ave. and Clifton Hill beside the Criminals Hall of Fame. This slightly thematically darker "north of the hill" area with the Screamers chain, the Criminals Hall of Fame, Rock Legends, Nightmares and Alien Encounter became a "main strip" all in it's own. As mentioned before, since the cabin courts were all town down in the early 50s, nothing had been torn down on Clifton Hill. The only exception was the Houdini Hall of Fame that burnt to ash in 1996. Some of Houdini's Last Words were claiming that anything revealing his secrets would perish in flame, and even though the fire completely leveled the museum, the plywood and fiberglass paneled House of Frankenstein only separated from it by a 2-foot wide alley was completely untouched, leading a lot of Houdini's fans to believe he was conducting some kind of post-mortem practical joke. The metal objects like handcuffs and the water tank could be saved, and were bought by David Copperfield. Ripley's Moving Theatre was built in it's place. Over the 30 years from Tussaud's opening in 1959 to Dazzleland in 1989, Clifton Hill had expanded and filled up the land. However that didn't mean it was time to tear things down. Things were simply moved around or remodeled to keep them fresh, not out of an unwillingness to change, but because these things had become ingrained in the landscape. Examples of this were Tussaud's moving to its current home in the old building of a restaurant that had since moved on Victoria Ave., rather than the attraction shutting down, or the Adventure Dome Theatre oepneing in part of the Honeymoon City's gift shop. In Tussaud's old place was built the MGM walkthrough/store, Pink Panther ride and 4D Ride in 2002. The beer garden beside it was replaced with the WWE building and the Piledriver ride, but the beer area was moved to between the 2 attractions. In 2004 the Foxhead's arcade was expanded and re-themed into the Marvel Superheros Adventure City. Another great example of re-freshing an existing attraction was Dazzleland. A simple realization was made, more games = more money and higher guest enjoyment. The outdoor courtyard style with it's room for walkways between the buildings was re-designed, and HOCO again called upon WHLLG. WHLLG designed not only a remodel of Dazzleland, but an incredible 5-step plan that would have made Clifton Hill financially on par with a major theme park. Steps 1-3 came to fruition. Step 1 was remodeling Dazzleland into the Great Canadian Midway in 2002. The level, concrete foundation Dazzleland was built on was kept as the foundation of the Midway, hence why it has the same layout. The former video game building at the back became the FX Ride Theatre (now XD Theatre/Wild West Coaster) in the Midway. The funnel cake shop was kept where it was in Dazzleland except now it was in the Midway, between the FX Ride and the Prize Counter. The area housing Dazzleland's ticket redemption games became the Game Factory. The middle building housing the claw games and kiddie rides was demolished, as it was no longer needed because the Midway was fully indoors and there was now a massive space to put games. The sports bar was expanded and became Boston Pizza, so Dinosaur Park was moved to in front of the Comfort Inn. Under the expanded Boston Pizza, Sally Corp. was hired to build the interactive Ghostblasters dark ride. All of Dazzleland's old games made the transition into the Midway, however very few are still around. With the Midway making serious buck, HOCO went ahead with phase 2 of WHLLG's plan. Movieland was moved to Circus World's former location in 2005, and Circus World's owners moved the attraction to what was then the popular Victoria Ave. area. In Movieland's old home, Cosmic Golf, a blacklight golf was temporarily set up. 2 years later in 2007, the golf moved to it's permanent home in the basement becoming Galaxy Golf and the gift shop that had been formerly in the basement was moved upstairs. Movieland retained all the figures and sets they had at the time of the move, moving them all into the new space. All the scary elements were put in the new "House of Horrors", a small optional haunted house at the end of the attraction. Phase 3 involved beginning to demolish the only thing that WHLLG's 5 phase plan would have torn down: Quality Inn. In it's place an amusement park would have been built, anchored by Canada's largest ferris wheel. The wheel would be phase 3 and the amusement park phase 4. Though both WHLLG and HOCO recognized the historical value of the hotel, it had reasons to go. The hotel may have been full of your usual hazardous mid-century building materials (however Comfort Inn built by the same firm the same year was found to have no hazardous materials when it was torn down in 2015, so who knows) but the main issue was elevators and the amount of space it took up. Comfort Inn only had 2 wings, one on each side of the lobby, and only 2 elevators would have needed to be installed. This wasn't legally necessary, as no law states that buildings of age absolutely have to be 100% accessible, it was more something HOCO wanted to do. Quality Inn had multiple wings that weren't accessible from one another, so an elevator would need to be installed in each wing. In addition to the elevator issue, Comfort Inn was chosen as the hotel to keep because the building was integrated with Kelsey's, Rumors Nightclub, Ripley's, and Dinosaur Park, all of which wouldn't have been touched in WHLLG's 5 phase plan. Finally, Comfort Inn's land wasn't big enough for an amusement park whereas Quality Inn's was. 2 things would justify the demolition of Quality Inn. One, it's sister hotel, Comfort Inn, would have been kept. The other reason justifying the demolition would be phase 5: a skyscraper hotel and indoooutdoor waterpark in the field between Clifton Hill and the Skylon Tower. The dragon figures from Quality Inn's pool were kept in HOCO's storage for a time for this waterpark. The final vision can be seen here. Phase 3 would go ahead in 2006, with the lobby, Golden Griddle and Q-Balls Billiard pub of Quality Inn being torn down and the Skywheel built in it's place. For the last year Quality Inn was open, you would need to register at Comfort Inn's lobby. The same year, the Space Spiral was torn down, as 2 observation attractions wouldn't be needed on the hill. However, a new spiral tower would have been constructed during phase 4 in the theme park. The reason the tower would be demolished rather than moved was because a tower manufactured by the same company in Wildwood, NJ, had begun to sway a few years earlier, resulting in it needing to be removed entirely for safety reasons. Phase 4 was set to go ahead in 2010, so in 2009 the remainder of Quality Inn was demolished. It seemed as though everything would fall into place, and with the exception of Quality Inn making it's sacrifice, everything on Clifton Hill that had been there for 20-60 years would be there forever, just greatly expanded on. Unfortunately, this came at a turning point for Clifton Hill, when the recession was in full swing and tourism had declined since 9/11. Changing technology and interests, but no real nostalgia trend yet, created a perfect storm, and the idea was scrapped. Especially now that there would be no amusement park, a lot of area attractions closed. HOCO now needed to find a new design company to completely re-design the project. The problem was, Quality Inn was already torn down to make way for the amusement park. HOCO reluctantly found a new design company who had no projects under their belt yet, IDS. HOCO was hopeful the Canadian company could help give them a similar vision to their previous 5 stage plan, that would help them re-use many of the already implemented stages and despite scrapping the amusement park, would simply scale down and redesign the hotel. This was done in hopes that the city would be much more likely to approve just another high rise hotel than an amusement park as well. IDS' new plan was much different than what HOCO was looking for. It featured tearing down Ripley's, Comfort Inn, Kelsey's, and Rumours Nightclub and building a Titanic Museum shaped like the boat. It also featured building a large mall within the hotel rather than a waterpark and relocating and expanding Dinosaur Park into Dinosaur Adventure Golf on Quality Inn's old land. While HOCO thankfully chose not to go ahead with the mall and Titanic Museum, they would build Dinosaur Adventure Golf and work with IDS to make a more feasible plan that better suited Clifton Hill. The new plan featured Dinosaur Adventure Golf and Strike! Rock 'n Bowl as phase 1. It also included removing a lot of the thematic brand identity elements WHLLG had implemented to coincide with their final amusement park vision and replacing Galaxy Golf with Wizard's Golf as phase 2. Phase 3 would feature tearing down Comfort Inn (that never got it's elevators due to it no longer being planned to be kept), building Niagara Speedway in it's place, and removing Rumors Nightclub to accommodate the new Kelsey's bathrooms and Zombie Attack. Phase 4 would feature remodelling Wendy's, Boston Pizza and Kelsey's. Phase 5 would feature a mall (no hotel) in the field between Dinosaur Adventure Golf and the Skylon, but this final phase will likely never come to fruition. Multiple attractions have closed since the late 2000's, such as the entire Screamers chain, Circus World, The Criminals Hall of Fame, Funland Arcade and Alien Encounter. The Hilltop Motel became the current home of the Upside Down House, and the Pilgrim Motel became Captain Jack's. Ironically, the only part of the building that's not part of the entertainment centre is a Mini Mart at the back that was the original arcade in the Pilgrim. Virtually everything in the Falls. Ave. complex other than Rainforest Cafe and the 4D theatre is gone. Marvel Superheroes Adventure City lost its license after Disney bought Marvel, and it simply became Adventure City. The Hulk Mini Golf became jungle themed, Spider-Man references were (poorly) removed from the dark ride, and X-men referenced were (also poorly) removed from the bumper cars. References to Marvel can still be found in the arcade, such as Spider-Man's face on a tree that was only covered up a few years ago. The WWE Store, after being abandoned since 2012, was turned into the Niagara Brewery Beer Store in 2016, fitting considering the land's history as a beer garden. Planet Hollywood on Falls Ave. closed around 2014, and is still abandoned. The MGM walkthrough was abandoned for over 10 years before becoming a barbecue restaurant in 2019. The changes in the Falls Ave. complex are an example of good change, replacing abandoned attractions with ones that if anything are closer to what used to be there, such as Adventure City becoming an unthemed arcade again or the Beer Store being where the Beer Garden once was. Another example of this good change would be the long abandoned (and burnt) Adventure Dome that had briefly held a Lego attraction being turned into the Amazing Big Top Mirror and Lazer Maze in 2017. However a perfect example of negative change is the Rock Legends Wax Museum being forced out of business because a YouTube video of the museum was flagged for copyrighted music by YouTube's algorithms. This lead Sony Music to investigate the museum and shut it down last year if it wouldn't pay ridiculous licensing fees, which it couldn't afford. Another example is IDS' redevelopment plan. HOCO is now locked in a contract with them, even though they obviously have very different ideas on the direction of Clifton Hill. Phase 1 was implemented in 2011, with Boston Pizza expanding their arcade to include Strike! Rock 'n Bowl and Dinosaur Park moving to where Quality Inn was and being renamed Dinosaur Adventure Golf. All of Costello's original dinosaurs (with the exception of the original Pterodactyl) would "migrate" to the new location where they would be joined by dozens of new mass-produced dinosaurs. Interestingly, foundations were built back in 2011 for the original 2 Brontosaurs to appear as if they were coming out of the ponds, but they wouldn't show up until 2019 when they were brought back out of storage to be installed, only to lay on the ground for a few months before going back into storage. Although it didn't use new hand-made figures, this attraction was a change that fits the spirit of Clifton Hill and was a good replacement for the empty plot of land that had once housed Quality Inn, even if an amusement park would have been better. The same cannot be said about the rest of IDS' plan. Many thematic elements installed throughout the hill by WHLLG (especially in Movieland and the Midway) were removed in phase 2 in 2013 simply to fit with IDS's image better, costing HOCO a lot of money. Phase 3 went ahead in 2015, and the 60 year old Comfort Inn was demolished, along with the old HOCO offices in it that if you remember from part 1, was the original nearly 200 year old stable building for the Zimmerman estate. Niagara Speedway was built in it's place, and if you look at the prices to drive it, then watch how many people do, you realize just how much they're making off it. Rumors Nightclub, originally the Queen's Door Nightclub in 1956, was gutted and turned into Zombie Attack and the new Kelsey's bathrooms, as the old ones had been in the Comfort Inn building. Phase 4 in 2018 extensively remodeled Wendy's as well as Boston Pizza, removing the patio. Ghostblasters is now the final untouched WHLLG era attraction on the land. This is made even more troubling by the fact the signs for it were just removed and replaced with temporary ones, as I said in the post that started the entire discussion on whether or not I should do this series. If the attraction does go, we can only hope that a new interactive dark ride utilizing artistry, dimensional scenes and props much like Ghostblasters does is built, however that likely won't be the case. Triotech is the lead designer of ride through shooting games, that feature a dark ride car that travels through a hallway with screens on each side of it rather than real props. Triotech has dealt with HOCO before, building both the Wild West Coaster and Zombie Attack, so all signs point to one of these attractions replacing Ghostblasters if it closes. There is still hope that Clifton Hill can retain it's spirit, but it stands at a crossroads. The House of Frankenstein for example, while retaining many original scenes, has had many removed and replaced with nothing, and many areas of the museum taken out entirely. Castle Dracula on the other hand hasn't updated a thing, but hasn't cared for the original scenes either, leaving them to fall into disrepair and only having 7 or 8 of the original 70 still lit, and none of them still functional. There are 2 directions Clifton Hill can go. With many attractions like the ones on HOCO's side being demolished to make way for whatever is trendy and lucrative, and many hanging on by a thread like Castle Dracula or Ghostblasters, the Hill is in real danger of becoming an endlessly overturning and developing area. However, with money recently being poured back into attractions like the Haunted House, Ripley's, and Guinness and attractions being redeveloped like the Falls Ave. complex or the Big Top Mirror maze, there is hope. If people, including the companies that own them, can recognise the historical value of attractions like Castle Dracula, The House of Frankenstien, Movieland, Tussaud's, etc., this can be promoted and the recent nostalgia boom can create large profits if this is played up. Additionally, future developments can still be more in the vein of what WHLLG envisioned for Clifton Hill, or what the Burlands recently did with the well done Big Top Mirror Maze. This is both profitable and economically sensible, as repeat customers that make memories and come to the area for generations with occasional new updates/re-themings (like what Clifton Hill did from the 50s-2010s), is far more profitable than a constantly turning over wave of new developments that cost millions to build that changes with each generation. Thank you to everyone who has followed this series. Sorry for the length of this, but I promised this would be the last installment, so it has to be longer. If you have any information pertaining to Dazzleland or anything you know that I didn't cover in this series, let me know. Additionally, if you would like me to dig up photos on anything that I mentioned in the series, let me know, as unless it's the Dazzleland dragon, I probably have a photo of it. I will likely post many of them here anyway in time. Thanks again.
Unlike my previous post, this post will be for original cities rather than renamed ones. These can be more fantastical than the real world, too, operated on superhero comic rules. Some people are born with superpowers. Magic and supernatural creatures are real, albeit kept secret from the mundane world. Aliens occasionally invade, advanced technology can be found in many mad scientist labs, but the world as a whole is still recognizable as our own.
Platinum City - A sparkling American east coast city, it's skyline covered in glass skyscrapers with monorails arcing between important buildings, this is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. It was always home to the prestigious Argent University of Science, but the city truly grew after a normally horrible accident. Research into the metahuman gene in the late 70s went wrong and polluted the soil and water in the area. Nearly 1 in 4 people born in the city are born with the metahuman gene. People flocked here hoping to give their future generations a better life. By the 90s, many tweens began manifesting powers and the city practically became a warzone. It was here that the concept of superheroes and supervillains became widespread. Those who didn't go mad with power found themselves using their powers to improve the city in the 2000s, leading it to the grand state it's in now.
St. Vladimir - This Minnesotan city and the surrounding suburbs are more important to the world than most realize. While the mundane world knows of the powerful Russian mafia which seems to control the area, few know that these mafiosos are monster hunters. The city is silently in a feud between the hunters, vampires, and the black magic practitioners who flock to the city. Wendigos and ghouls lurk through the alleyways while vampires control many large businesses. The only reason the monsters remain is because of the structure that has formed, allowing most to obtain the necessary blood, flesh, and (in the warlocks' case) ritual components required for them to stave off death/starvation/their demonic masters.
The Burg - a floating city composed of powerless folks trying to get away from the metahumans, the people there call it the last bastion of humanity if the "superfreaks" ever decide to destroy everything. This city floats around near the Arctic circle and is mostly a lashed together boat city. (u/seriousd6)
Hana - well hidden desert city where the residents (powered and not) all live in harmony under a caring leader who is committed to stop the research into metahuman genetics, and believes that researchers in this field are performing harmful experiments on the people to further their ends. (u/seriousd6)
The Cap - an extremely mechanical city (think steampunk) where a niche metahuman group has decided to band together, this has become a haven for all those with heat-related powers. The price for living is to help run the boilers that power the city, the reward is community and safety in numbers. (Bonus points if it is on or near a volcano) (u/seriousd6)
Willowville- A small USA southern town. In the 1930s a small meteorite crashed and it’s strange ore contaminated the land and water. Generations later children are being born with powers, but the town leaders are doing al they can to keep it secret. (u/ravi95035)
Peninsula City - west coast USA city founded by three supers in the late 1800s that now serves as a sanctuary city for supers. (u/ravi95035)
Nairos - Northern African city protected by the Warriors of Clay (sentient clay golems), a safe haven for supers in that global area. (u/ravi95035)
Salem's Burrow, Kansas- An unassuming farm town in the middle of no where. Most of the roads are dirt with a spartan few asphalt roads. Corn fields as far as the eye can see with an occasional old house or a different crop breaking the rows for a moment before more corn fields. In reality, it hides a troll market with tunnels from every basement and farm house (basically a market that sells everything from legitimate merchandise to slaves to counterfeit goods to black magic rituals schematics). All the farmers are the same entity that can manifest in various forms perfectly who been serving fey folks, supers, humans, and freaks as a cover for the eyes of various "unaligned" and hostile groups though only the most ancient beings know this secret. (u/Th3R3493r)
The Okínihaŋ Reservation: It is a series of reservation Native American Reservation in South and North Dakota. Before the Government and pioneers came, the tribes stretched over the Great Plains. Now on the surface, it is the remnants of various tribes who run an empire of casinos and try to keep their traditions alive. Due to their legal system being different and the state of world, they operate a covert mercenary corps comprised of various "monsters" as most would call them from Lechuza (owl-women who specialized in nighttime recon and target extractions), Skin walkers (various roles from combat to subterfuge), Teihiihan and Nimerigar (supposedly dead formerly cannibalistic races of dwarf-like operators who are now engineering and forensic experts), Kushtaka (otter-men who aid forces in stealth maritime offensives), and various others including a few "Gods from the Time the Earth was new". They cover it up with actors and legitimate conspiracy theorist on the fringes constantly given every direction but the right ones. (u/Th3R3493r)
!!! (pronounced by throwing your hands up and stomping loudly) or Paralite- It is an alien city nowadays. Not like tourist-trap towns, the aliens are there. !!! was secretly founded in 1956 by ⏃⌰⟊⍜⊑⋏ ⋔⏃⋏⌇⍜⋏ (in English, Al'John Manson) a "supposedly" exiled prince of scavenger civilization who brought a ⟟⌇☌⏃⌰⏃⋏⏁⟟⏃⋏ (Isgalantian) warship to the back yard of a doomsday prepper by the name of Jonathon Manson who became his advisor after this superpower of universal translation was found out accident as he cussed the alien warship out in fluent ☊⍜⋔⋔⍜⋏ (Common). After the CIA was tasked to "peacefully" resolve the problem and ⏃⌰⟊⍜⊑⋏ ⋔⏃⋏⌇⍜⋏ made a agreement to help forward technology to bested the Reds (who obtained scraped and damaged tech from the Tunguska event of 1908 and "The Night of Green Lights"), the town became a headquarter for the Black Suits (MiB like organzation) and a safe haven. With the first Cold War ending when the re-release of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin by an unknown cosmic entity, the town was silently reclassified and became another Silicon Valley under the name Paralite and a embassy for friendly extraterrestrial alien lifeforms. (u/Th3R3493r)
The Arks - it is a secret system of floating city much like the Burg, but, more selective of their population. Supers, Aliens, Freaks, Cryptids and Normals are equally accepted and screened with any possible damning flaws or factors will be grounds of denial or termination if they are compromised after entry. The Arks are attempts as an ultramodern semi-utopia and a backup plan if the sea rising causes the civilization to have go to sea permanently. While organized crime syndicates still attempt to get a foot hold on them, all attempts have been unsuccessful and unprofitable for now. But, as long the Arks are on the horizon and shanty town of boats trail behind them waiting for the day they can take an Ark for their side and to use as a forwarding base for operations. (u/Th3R3493r)
Big Mountain, Nevada (Big Empty or Big MT) - formerly a government ran town that held the "best and brightest that the world had to offer". Long story short, "best and brightest" did not account for morals. So, with blank checks without a concern for ethics, morality, and human rights, It became a refugee full of mad scientist, mutants, mutates, and cyborgs. The current overseer has the town look and play like a sitcom 1950's suburbia minus most of the prejudices with the motto "Est Normalis Nova Impar (The Odd New Normal)". The Government officials supposed to run it were blacklisted for "being communist sympathizers" for various unsupported reasons in McCarthy's Witch Hunts. The town is still running on the funds from selling man-made precious metals and stone while in the guise of an unprofitable dying mining town on IRS records. (u/Th3R3493r)
Carne Quemada, Texas - A small unassuming city founded near several important intersections after the rise of the railroad in America. If there was a head of livestock bound for the East Coast from West Coast, It went through Carney before heading further. On the surface, It is just another drive-by town with the headquarter of a small family ran butcher shop/BBQ joint, but, it is ran by puppet officials controlled a old money family, Navaneeth, that specializes in the Arcane Arts and Dark Arts. The family patriarch is reportedly over 2800 years old but still looks to be in his late 50 and in the body of an Olympian. This family has their hands in the rise and fall of nearly every major meat based company since the apex of Rome. 'Word to the Wise' is do NOT try to spread vegan or animal rights propaganda in the town unless you want to "go missing" and end up as the unquestioning "circuitry" of the eco-friendly automation in a far off slaughterhouse. (u/Th3R3493r)
Capitol City, Ambiguous America - A large, metropolitan city with an Important American Landmark (capitol, museum, etc.). The city magically shifts forms and locations from time to time, leaving the inhabitants with no memory of it. No matter the form or location of the city it always represents an important part of American society. Capitol City exists within its own bubble, where people forget that leaving is an option. Whenever an alien, supervillain, kaiju, or magic-user attacks, chances are, it'll be here. The city has its own stock of good magic-users, superheroes, and military units, but these seem to shift in and out of being depending on the "genre" of the current disaster. In reality, Capitol City was created by a guild of powerful sorcerers who decided there should be somewhere on Earth to absorb disasters. It acts as a magnet for bad things and changes depending on what is needed to protect the rest of the world. (u/relinquisher42)
Wall Street Breakfast: The Week Ahead. I read this and thought it interesting. Enjoy from SeekingAlpha
Nike (NYSE:NKE) will headline a light roster of earnings reports in the week ahead, while Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) WWDC event sets the stage for the company's launch of the first 5G iPhones later this year. On the economic front, reports on existing home sales, jobless claims, consumer spending and a Q1 GDP revision will be the headliners. Fed heads are out in force next week, with virtual speeches on the docket for Raphael Bostic, James Bullard and Charles Evans. In a sign of normalcy, Ford (NYSE:F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) are expected to return to pre-pandemic production levels at U.S. plants, while results of Fed stress tests on major banks will be announced on June 25. Earnings spotlight: IHS Market (NYSE:INFO) on June 23; BlackBerry (NYSE:BB), KB Home (NYSE:KBH) and National Beverage (NASDAQ:FIZZ) on June 24; Nike (NKE), Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) on June 25. IPO watch: U.S. grocery store operator Albertsons (ACI) is expected to price its IPO next week and begin to trade. The company could have a valuation of over $10B if the IPO prices at the midpoint of the expected range of $18 to $20 range. Albertsons, which is looking to raise as much as $2B, is one of the grocery chains seeing a sales boom in business during the coronavirus pandemic. Stakeholders Kimco Realty (NYSE:KIM) and Cerberus Capital are both selling off shares in the offering. No other IPOs are due to price during the week. M&A tidbits: The walk date for the Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR)-Eldorado Resorts (NASDAQ:ERI) merger arrives on June 24, although no surprises are anticipated. Shareholders vote on the Provident Financial (NYSE:PFS)-SB One Bancorp (NASDAQ:SBBX) deal on June 25. On the same date, Delphi Technologies (NYSE:DLPH) shareholders vote on the merger with BorgWarner (NYSE:BWA). It is almost a lock that there will be some more drama in the Taubman Centers (NYSE:TCO)-Simon Property (NYSE:SPG) duel. Projected dividend changes (quarterly): Kroger (NYSE:KR) to $0.17 from $0.16, John Wiley (NYSE:JW.A) to $0.35 from $0.34, Saul Centers (NYSE:BFS) to $0.27 from $0.53. Spotlight on Nike: Nike will post its FQ4 report with more uncertainty in the air than almost any time before due to the lack of formal guidance from the company. The two biggest pullouts from the report are likely to be the pace of recovery in China and the momentum of the e-commerce business. Nike is one of the companies seen by Wall Street as in a strong position on the other side of the pandemic. "We see Nike as favorably positioned for both secular fitness/casualization trends and industry structural changes that benefit those with strong direct engagement with consumers," notes bullish-leaning Wells Fargo ahead of the print. Stocks that quite often move right along with Nike on earnings day include Foot Locker (NYSE:FL), adidas (OTCQX:ADDYY), Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) and Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS). WWDC: Apple will hold its annual developers conference on June 22-26 in a virtual format this year. Apple is expected to announce its ARM-based Macs as the company advances its control of chips and architecture away from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). Enhancements with iOS14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7 are also anticipated, along with new products/R&D initiatives on the AR headset and wearables/AirPods front. Tim Cook will give the keynote presentation on June 22 at 10:00 Pacific time in what is likely to be his last presentation before the annual September iPhone reveal event. Healthcare watch: Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) has an investor series presentation next week covering its early pipeline/immuno-oncology on June 22 and hematology on June 25. PDUFA dates arrive for Karyopharm Therapeutics' (NASDAQ:KPTI) Xpovio on June 23, Zogenix's (NASDAQ:ZGNX) Fintepla on June 25 and Heron Therapeutics' (NASDAQ:HRTX) HTX-011 on June 26. The big event of the week in the sector is the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Annual Meeting II running from June 22-24. A large number of potentially market-moving posters and abstracts are due to be released, as well as special sessions on COVID-19 and cancer research. Some of the notable companies due to present include Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Phio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PHIO), Exicure (NASDAQ:OTC:XCUR), Xencor (NASDAQ:XNCR), ESSA Pharma (NASDAQ:EPIX), ImmunoGen (NASDAQ:IMGN), Molecular Templates (NASDAQ:MTEM), Guardant Health (NASDAQ:GH), CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP), Jounce Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JNCE), GlycoMimetics (NASDAQ:GLYC), Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ:SGEN), Provectus Therapeutics (OTC:PVCT), ORIC Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ORIC), Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), aTyr Pharma (NASDAQ:LIFE), TG Therapeutics (NASDAQ:TGTX) and Neoleukin Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NLTX). Bank tests: The Federal Reserve will release results of the annual bank stress tests on June 25. Fed Vice Chair Randal Quarles noted that the test this year includes running banks up against three possible economic trajectories of varying severity to see how they perform due to the unprecedented uncertainty about the pandemic. The test will see how banks perform against a rapid V-shaped recovery, a slower U-shaped recovery and a rough W-shaped recovery. The test results could factor in to dividend decisions down the road for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), while Capital One (NYSE:COF) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) are seen being pushed under the scenarios. Traders are making plays based on the results, with a notable amount of bullish options bets being placed on Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC). Some other bank names to watch when the results roll out are PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC), Truist (NYSE:TFC), Regions Financial (NYSE:RF), Ally Financial (NYSE:ALLY), HSBC North America (NYSE:HSBC), UBS (NYSE:UBS), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS), Barclays (NYSE:BCS), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) and Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ:HBAN). Analyst meetings and business updates: Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) will host a fireside chat for the investor community with members of its management team on June 22. The impact of some of the games introduced at EA Play Live 2020 will be discussed. Hewlett Packard Enterprises (NYSE:HPE) is launching the first-ever HPE Discover Virtual Experience on June 23 to showcase the company's pivot to an edge-to-cloud platform-as-a-service company. In the transportation sector, Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) is participating in a Q&A webcast with Cowen on June 23. Also on June 23, Dell Technologies (NYSE:DELL) has an investor call with Morgan Stanley scheduled. Meanwhile, Sanofi is holding a virtual R&D day event on June 23. Bristol-Myers Squibb has an investor event covering immunology and cardiovascular on June 26. Conferences rundown: The timing looks spot on for the Jefferies Virtual Consumer Conference on June 23-24 with the pandemic shifting shopping habits in the U.S. Companies due to present include Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT), Nu Skin (NYSE:NUS), Freshpet (NYSE:FPT), Murphy USA (NYSE:MUSA), Sysco (NYSE:SYY), Hostess Brands (NASDAQ:TWNK), Shack Shack (NYSE:SHAK) and Jack in the Box (NASDAQ:JACK). In the healthcare sector, the BMO 2020 Prescriptions for Success Healthcare Conference features virtual presentations by Humana (NYSE:HUM), Halozyme (NASDAQ:HALO), Horizon Therapeutics (NASDAQ:HZNP), Apellis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:APLS), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Replimune (NASDAQ:REPL) on June 23. Other conferences of note include the SVB Leerink CybeRx Series CNS Forum, BMO Chemicals & Packaging Conference, Wells Fargo Bricks to Clicks Digital Conference, Goldman Sachs Leveraged Finance Conference and the Morgan Stanley Zero Trust Architectures Virtual Thematic Conference. On the smaller side of the conference schedule, the mining and metals sectors will be in focus, with John Tumazos Very Independent Research virtual meetings set for June 23-24 on Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE:WPM), Western Copper and Gold (NYSEMKT:WRN), KORE Mining (OTCQB:KOREF), Amarillo Gold (OTCQB:AGCBF), Sierra Metals (NYSEMKT:SMTS), Foran Mining (OTC:FMCXF), Wolfden Resources (OTC:WLFFF), Trilogy Metals (NYSEMKT:TMQ) and Adventus Mining (OTCQX:ADVZF). Ford F-150: Ford has a digital reveal event for the all-new F-150 set for June 25. The Ford team is expected to describe innovative features of the all-new F-150, including the new electrical architecture, a flat-lying passenger sleeper seat and over-the-air updates to key modules controlling vehicle performance and user experiences. The new truck is seen as a critical part of Ford's plan to slash $5B in warranty costs and push the automaker's vehicle connectivity platform. As a profit generator, the F-150 launch later this year will also help restore the company's balance sheet. The all-new Ford F-150 will be discussed by execs in detail during a June 26 conference call with Citi Research. Deurbanization trade: Expect more talk from analysts next week about which sectors and stocks could benefit if the mega-trend of people and businesses moving out of downtowns of major cities becomes a reality. Jefferies got the ball rolling last week by singling out Home Depot (NYSE:HD), Lowe's (NYSE:LOW), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Floor & Decor (NYSE:FND), At Home (NYSE:HOME), Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM) and Wayfair (NYSE:W) as retailers that could gain from an uptick in suburban living and more spending on houses than metropolitan apartments. One of the bigger pure plays is Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO), which has racked up a 64% gain over the last 90 days. RVs: Keep an eye on the RV sector with May shipment numbers due out from the RV Industry Association. Demand is expected to be on the rebound after RV shipments fell 82% in April. Looking ahead, there is a difference in opinion on Wall Street on the outlook for Winnebago (NYSE:WGO), Thor Industries (NYSE:THO), Patrick Industries (NASDAQ:PATK), LCI Industries (NYSE:LCII) and Camping World Holdings (NYSE:CWH). Some firms like SunTrust Robinson Humphrey expect a RV boom as consumers gravitate toward safer vacations, while Bank of America has warned that the high rate of unemployment and salary cuts could keep discretionary spending in check. Sports betting: Time is running out for the California Assembly to pass legislation on sports betting to move the issue to the November ballot. The bill has to pass through the legislature before June 25 to become an election issue. Why is it a big deal? California is forecast to have the potential for a +$30B sports betting market through sports books placed at tribal casinos, horse racing tracks and satellite wagering facilities. "California could easily become one of the most productive sports-betting markets in the world," observes gaming analyst Chris Grove. Tax revenue from sports betting would also help the Golden State with its budget issues amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Stocks of interest in relations to how sports betting in California plays out include DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG), William Hill (OTCPK:WIMHF), MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM), Caesars Entertainment, Fanduel (DUEL), Red Rock Resorts (NASDAQ:RRR), Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN). Casinos: The Nevada Gaming Commission is meeting on June 25 to likely approve amendments to state regulations that would streamline the process for moving to modern payment methods. The casino industry in general wants to quickly adopt cashless payment transactions on the casino floor due to the risk of handling cash during the coronavirus outbreak. The casino reset could have implications for Visa (NYSE:V), Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and American Express (NYSE:AXP), as well as financial apps from Apple (AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). Casino operators like MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) would also welcome the change. What's not playing: Warner Bros.'s (NYSE:T) feature animated film Scoob! will stream on HBO Max on June 26 after running in a premium video on-demand window. The children's picture was first scheduled for theaters on May 15 before opting for a 48-hour rental PVOD period price of U.S. $19.99. While Scoob! didn't make quite the splash that Trolls World Tour did in the spring when it nabbed $100M in digital sales over three weeks, it's another incremental step away from the traditional studio release format for major studios like Sony (NYSE:SNE), Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Disney (NYSE:DIS). As for theater chains, auditoriums are likely to operate at 25% to 50% capacity as AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC), Cinemark (NYSE:CNK), IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAC), Marcus Entertainment (NYSE:MCS) and Reading International (NASDAQ:RDI) open back up this summer. Notable annual meetings: Companies with virtual annual meetings set next week include Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings (NASDAQ:OLLI) on June 22, Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) on June 23, Keurig Dr Pepper (NYSE:KDP) on June 24, At Home Group and Tailored Brands (NYSE:TLRD) on June 25. Barron's mentions: The publication digs out four industrial companies whose stocks are called compelling. Midsize manufacturers RBC Bearings (NASDAQ:ROLL) and Wabtec (NYSE:WAB) join large-caps Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR) and Ametek (NYSE:AME) on the short list of economy recovery picks. Of the four, Wabtec trades with the lowest forward PE ratio at 14.2. Brunswick (NYSE:BC) is also singled out this week as an advantageous product-mix shift and rising boat demand are seen helping to drive shares higher. Most of Brunswick's profit is derived from the high-margin Mercury engine business. The rally in tech names hasn't encapsulated the entire sector. Attractive names still trading at less than 4X sales include Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC), CACI International (NYSE:CACI), Leidos Holdings (NYSE:LDOS), Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), Amdocs (NASDAQ:DOX), Ciena (NYSE:CIEN), Accenture, MKS Instruments (NASDAQ:MKSI), Intel and F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV). The cover story this week hits on the rising inequality issue in the U.S., noting that it can be a breeding ground for all kinds of concerning things for the market like secular stagnation.
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