...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.
As you may remember, "far enough" for me would be an ump in the booth right at the stadium, no limits on courtesy reviews by managers (just like check swing appeals), and the right of the booth ump to overrule any call on the field at any time (other than balls and strikes, of course; a boundary system will be needed to improve those). In other words, make it both active and reactive.
This morning the Atlanta Braves surprised everybody and announced that they will be moving out of downtown Atlanta to the suburbs by 2017. And if you think you were surprised at this news, Atlanta baseball fans are completely blown away.
Most interesting was confirmation that the team gets paid the same amount regardless of ratings. In other words, if fans want to punish the team for not winning, skipping the broadcasts doesn't hurt them nearly as much as not going to the ballpark.
Last Monday an errand took me to downtown St. Paul and I decided to stray a bit from the most efficient route home.
This was before the heat which would ultimately overtake the week had fully set in, and so I left my car parked somewhere in the middle of that crazy kiddywampus street grid (a spot that I'm quite sure I could never find again) and headed on foot toward the site of a new ballpark.
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Branding on the plaza
Indications that club seating (the wider spaced areas above each dugout) will be a major presence in the lower deck
Scoreboard in profile against the skyline
I suppose that one day my son will graduate from Mrs. Fields to Hooters. At least he won't have to travel too far. *Shudder*
Click to enlarge.
The first passengers are about to arrive, but the switch is set for the wrong track (those guys walked all the way out to correct it)
Not sure what those supports are for -- probably stadia.
Shh. Don't tell those people working behind the ticket windows about these automated ticketing machines (underneath the plaza stairs)
7:32 PM Glare begins at about the left field foul pole.
For executive entertaining
...but you can get a feel for what it will be like.
Name that ballpark
Window area sketched by the limestone
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
The wall of brands at General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley (Source: RP)
Infield dirt used as accents
Remember the pitch heard throughout Twins Territory? What an amazing day that was, April 12, 2010. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
The Lincoln Saltdogs (and a promotional Nerd)
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.
Here's where the plaza will empty out around that skyway emergency exit tower at the corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.
Dan Kenney, my tour guide
Click to see the full-size image.
Steps, skyway, and plaza intersect.
Detail of Entry Plaza #4 (north entry from Fifth Street)
Hit gap, win suit!
Looking for some detail
The lights went on, and it was a Good Thing
Evidence of a food court behind the seating above the batter's eye
Final pieces arrive
The finished product. Note that, at the very bottom of this image, you can just barely see the tops of the windows which look into the Champion's Club. (Home Plate Box)
The plaza as viewed from across the park. The right field overhang section will be built just in from where the plaza supports are.