The top tourism official in LaPorte County is throwing darts at Speros Batistatos, comparing the outspoken tourism official from Lake County to a famous comic known for getting laughs with insults.
Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte Convention & Visitors Bureau, on Tuesday called Batistatos the "Don Rickles" of Northwest Indiana tourism.
Arnett said Batistatos, the president and chief executive officer for the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, insulted the “Indianapolis Colts, the Gary Genesis Center and the Porter County Convention Bureau all in one week."
Arnett pointed to Batistatos recently criticizing the Indianapolis Colts for doing a photo shoot of their cheerleaders in Saugatuck, Mich.
Batistatos claimed it was a decision that went against Northwest Indiana tourism and was a blown opportunity for the Colts to win over more fans from the region.
"The Indianapolis Colts are strong partners for Northwest Indiana and came to LaPorte last year on a promotional tour and participate in a Pop Warner League certification which covers 24 communities in Northwest Indiana.”
Arnett also pointed to Batistatos' comments in Valparaiso last week saying the Genesis Center in Gary was “obsolete the day it was built.”
"If Batistatos would contribute to functions in Gary like he does now in other counties it might help build convention business at the Genesis Center,” said Arnett.
Arnett said he spends Lake County CVB money on events in other counties and such focus neglects tourist events in his own county.
“The guy is certainly no goodwill ambassador for Northwest Indiana. His constant insults have earned him the title the Don Rickles of Tourism,” Arnett said.
In response, Batistatos, who has openly stated a desire for a regional tourism bureau, called Arnett a "little man" and challenged him to discuss real facts like, "who's filling up more hotel beds."
"This has become so unfortunate I can't even convey the extreme lack of intelligence and integrity that man displays at every turn," said Batistatos.
He also questioned the accuracy of some of Arnett's claims saying, "the man draws an opinion without any research or facts like he draws oxygen from the air."
"What do you expect from a pig other than an oink?" Batistatos said.