By Paul Kiser
On Monday night I sat in a back room of a restaurant in downtown Reno (that shall remain nameless) at the Rotary Club of Reno New Generations meeting. The restaurant had decided to pack the back room with patrons who were not part of the meeting and who seemed to be oblivious that someone was trying to speak to the group. Despite all of this distraction the club members were focused on the man standing up. To everyone it was apparent that this man was passionate about his job and all the noise around him didn’t keep him from making it clear that he loves what he does.
The man is Rick Parr and he is passionate about his ball club. Rick is the general manager of the Reno Aces and last year the new Triple A team came to Reno and erased all doubt of whether this town could support the Arizona Diamondbacks “farm” team. The Reno Aces exceeded all expectations for a first year club with a season attendance approaching 500,000 fans. But that achievement was nothing compared to what happened during the first four months of 2009.
On Feb. 1 of last year, the ballpark looked more like the first phase of a major construction project rather than a state-of-the-art baseball stadium only 10 weeks away from the first pitch of the first home game. But on April 17 all, and I mean all, were amazed. For anyone who was paying attention it was a miracle.
Rick doesn’t look like he has 30 years in baseball management. When you talk to him about the Reno Aces he sounds like the person who was just hired to take a job that he has dreamed of all his life. He loves baseball and he loves his team. You get the sense that the miracle of last year’s opening day was due in large part to the force a nature known as Rick Parr.
But Rick’s passion doesn’t stop with baseball. He is passionate about redeveloping downtown. Like Denver’s Coors Field, the new Reno Aces Stadium is located in an area that has had little economic benefit to the city in recent history and like the Colorado Rockies, the Reno Aces are bringing in people and new development to revitalize the downtown area.
Rick has only been in Reno for 18 months, but as the designated hitter for the Front Office he taking the vision of the team owners, Jerry and Stuart Katzoff, and bringing home a re-imagined downtown that offers more attractions than just a baseball team. This year the Aces will open up the next phase of new dining and shopping with the Freight House District’s first retail offerings. There is no doubt that this area will become a Mecca for tourists and local citizens, bringing new jobs and revenue for local businesses and to the City of Reno.
Even before the completion of the full Freight House District retail project it is obvious that the Reno Aces have changed Reno for good. Rick would probably be the first to credit the work of many others for the success, but there is one common factor in all that is happening in the downtown area and that is the passion of Rick Parr.
Rick is a great example of how one person can change a city by having passion and vision. Peter Drucker wrote, “Wherever you find something getting done, you find a monomaniac with a mission.” Rick Parr is Reno’s newest monomaniac. Just in time!
Paul Kiser’s Blog is at www.paulkiser.wordpress.com