November 16, 2013 4:19 PM
Wow, this, from Atlanta Journal-Constitution blogger Jay Bookman, is brutal, and brutally honest:
...trying to assess a proposed stadium deal through the eyes of a loyal fan is a big mistake, because that loyalty is not returned by baseball ownership. They see it as strictly a business proposition, and if a community doesn't approach it the same way, they'll lose badly. ...
Since 2006, the value of the Minnesota Twins franchise has increased by 167 percent, which is roughly three times as fast as that of the Braves. ...
Fans would like to hope that with new stadiums and soaring team values and revenues, grateful team owners would at least be able to expand their payrolls, bring in more free agents and field more competitive teams to watch and root on. But no, it doesn't work that way. ...
As for the teams with new stadiums, the Twins finished 27 games off their division lead this season... They're making a LOT more money, but they're not putting a dime of it on the field. As I noted earlier, the Twins have almost doubled their operating revenue since 2006 and have also more than doubled the value of their franchise, thanks to the generosity of Minnesota taxpayers in giving them that new stadium. But over the past seven years, their annual player payroll has risen a whopping 3.8 percent. And no, that's not 3.8 percent a year, that's total. Revenue is up $100 million since 2006; player payroll is up a whopping $2.8 million. ...
I've been a big baseball fan ever since I can remember, and I'm fully invested in the game's romance, beauty and lore. And of course the baseball industry, the football industry and basketball industry have every right to monetize the excitement and passion that their products excite in their fans. That's what they're selling, and they're good at it.
However, at a time when we're firing teachers and slashing food stamps and refusing to invest in basic transportation infrastructure, there's something morally wrong about using that same excitement as a means of transferring taxpayer dollars into the pockets of billionaires. I don't blame the Braves and Falcons and other teams for doing it -- again, to them it's just business. I blame the rest of us for letting our skewed sense of priorities be manipulated to our own detriment. Like Dan Uggla, we see that 0-2 slider coming low and away, and we flail at it every time.
This is nothing new, I realize. But when you sum it up in a couple of paragraphs (without any local sentimentality getting in the way), it's completely brutal.
Allow me to pair it with this excerpt from another post I never quite finished, this time from May of 2010, tentatively titled Just Do It? Will We Ever Build Another Stadium? (Answer: Yep.):
With the 2010 legislative session now just an odorous memory, and its fiscal entrails left to rot across our declining state for another year, we can now note that -- surprise! -- there is not yet a plan to build a new stadium for our beloved sports brethren, the Vikings.
It's just one of the many mistakes made by our elected leaders (including, especially, the Smirking Governor with delusional Presidential aspirations), but maybe not for the reasons we always hear.
Let me start with the end of the story: There absolutely will be a new Vikings stadium. It's just a matter of where, when, and how it will get paid for. And just so you don't think I'm being coy, it will be here, though I'm only willing to give the Metrodome site a 60% chance of landing it.
You may wonder just how we can know this, given that the Vikings appear hapless, nobody is lining up to pay for anything, and no politician will even touch the subject without being granted some form of immunity behind closed doors (what with politics looking ever more like some cheesy reality TV show).
So, how can we be so sure that it will happen? Because it always does, that's why. Always, always, always.
Oh, there will certainly much gnashing of teeth, and there will be tense votes in various committees and other assembled bodies. There will be polls, and protests, and maybe even boycotts or tears at meetings. There will be extended exasperation, which already includes unspoken threats, broken promises, creative ideas hastily dispatched, and all those other trappings.
But it will get done, and potentially next year, with the end of the Vikings Metrodome lease looming. Or not. It doesn't actually have to be next year. Lease extensions are a routine occurrence, especially if there are positive portents on the horizon. In fact, the goal next year may not even be to get the deal done, but just to make some progress and get an extension signed.
That would be a foolhardy strategy, of course, because every year of delay costs real money, but politicians have occasionally been known to follow foolhardy strategies.
You're probably still skeptical. I mean, we all know that everybody hates stadiums, and nobody wants to pay for them, and they represent a huge waste of money that just makes rich people richer and takes money away from schools and services and poor people and the hungry and infirmed and is generally a plaque upon our society (to be scraped off at regular intervals by a professional). Stadiums are, after all, just playgrounds for millionaires and billionaires and couldn't we just buy some more books and maybe pencils and paper for our classrooms?
We also know that the economic arguments have been debunked over and over, and that the civic pride argument is pretty vaporous.
But here's another thing that we also know: We always do it, and we've been doing it for thousands of years. And I'm going to offer myself up as the poster child for this anachronism. Personally, I agree with all those arguments about the other important ways to spend government dollars. But I also know it's going to happen, so let's just get it done as soon as possible -- before it ends up costing a billion dollars (or more).
Oh, the times we are living in... I like to think that someday people will look back and curse our folly, but I'm not quite that optimistic about human nature. We are likely not witnessing the end of the public financing of major sports facilities, but just the beginning of a new era when the 20-year-old facility looks like a dinosaur, and governments line up to encourage the churning.
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This page was last modified on November 16, 2013.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Target Plaza in model form
This is what I was working on while my photo was taken (click to see a VERY BIG version).
Lots of folks working behind those ticket windows
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
Looking the other direction, again from Ford Centre, you can see what's going on over the tracks. This will be a public promenade.
Row indicators are spray-painted with stencils over rust and peeling paint.
This gate opens onto Seventh Street from the circulation ramps, but it appears to actually be an entrance gate, rather than an exit gate. It has something of a Bat Cave feel about it because it's not a gate proper, but an area of louvers that will swing in, virtually disappearing when closed...
Which way to the skyway? Really??
2007, Noah's first game (Torii's last)
Original Concept - With a Retractable Roof
Inexplicable bright yellow baseball amid the trees.
The walkway under construction in the parking lot just outside the loading dock.
Nicely-cushioned seats, lots of room, great sightlines
Inspecting the delivery
Inside the Metropolitan Club. Classic photo of a youthful Bob Casey at far right. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
The Hrbek gate is directly below. It's a lively place after a game.
Did you know that the out-of-town scoreboard is covered by a black chain 1ink fence?
Now, THIS is just some guy who appears to be hanging out on the LRT tracks talking to himself.
Not sure what those supports are for -- probably stadia.
This is as close as I could get to a pedestrian-eye view of Seventh Street (looking west away from downtown). It's inviting, not imposing, and remarkably dignified.
Walkway construction is progressing
Here's an idea of what these Loge Boxes are all about. That guy is a waiter with no fans to serve. They seemed to have one server for about every four boxes.
For some inexplicable reason, a lot of the new parks being built these days feature grand staircases like this one.
A few weeks ago there were sand volleyball courts here. When the park opens, this will be surface parking. Maybe one day there will be something more interesting built on top of that parking...
Seventh Street circulation
Clemson Memorial Stadium
Look closely and you'll see limestone on the front of the press box!
Above the Carew gate
Directly above the ceiling here is the hidden concourse which served the upper deck prior to the renovation. That concourse was closed off to the public, but became a service level for ballpark employees. It's one of the many quirks which will be lost when the wrecking ball takes the place away.
Town Ball Tavern balcony
The green in question (click for very large version)
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.
This opportunity is half a block up Third Avenue and thousands of people walk right by before and after games.
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures