In short, some members of congress want to punish Citi Group for accepting bail-out money by forcing them to remove their name from the new Mets ballpark.
Citi Field as viewed from Shea.
I think that's a little bit crazy, but then I think the whole bail-out nonsense is pretty crazy too.
But the article made me wonder if Target Field's name would ever come into such jeopardy. Then, at almost the same instant that article appeared, Target announced their intention to eliminate 1000 jobs. That can't make them feel good over at 34 Kirby Puckett Place (or the top of the Multifoods Tower either).
These naming deals, though they represent an advertising expense, are some seriously expensive advertising. Wouldn't a big company like Target have to at least consider -- among many other things -- cutting back on their superfluous advertising (assuming that naming rights deals fit into that category)?
It's probably not an issue right now, but if the economy tanks further, and Wal-Mart continues to suck up more and more of those household goods buyers, it might look different pretty quickly.
Fuming About Fumes
No doubt you have heard that Hennepin County wants to spend some money to fix up the garage doors at the HERC plant. It's an effort to rid the promenade of even the tiniest bit of stink.
You can't argue with stink-removal. But the look of that place is way more offensive than the odor. What has gone under-reported is that a substantial part of the package being sought is for landscaping. Yes, they will be reconfiguring the entrance doors to get the trucks inside the building a bit farther away from the walkway, but they will also be building an earthen berm with trees and bushes to essentially hide that place away from stadium-goers. (I'm not sure what to think about "garbage perfume".)
Hockey at Wrigley
If you want a sneak preview of what outdoor hockey in a baseball stadium looks like, there was one just a couple of weeks ago in Chicago.
Here's a clip, and there are two more accessible from the related videos menu.
The HERC is an ugly stepchild in so many ways. In the best case, it would just go away. Since we can't have that, the changes currently on the table are the next best thing.
But the discussion gives everyone the chance to whine and cry once again about the "heavy burden" to taxpayers that the ballpark supposedly represents. While, in Washington these days, such burdens go by the name of "stimulus." More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile, another project has made its way onto the radar. It looks like the money is finalized for some of the streetscape and skyway work. That's good news.
Dare I Mention...?
Yesterday I made a quick mention of the Vikes and it's all anyone wanted to talk about. This is a baseball site, so I thought long and hard before bringing the subject up again today, but it does seem worth discussing. Seems like we baseball fans, who got what we want, should probably help out the poor football fans, who it looks like may not.
Truth is, I don't really have a dog in the Vikings stadium fight. I'd hate to see them leave, but right now it seems inevitable to me. I'm a baseball fan, but my off-season Sundays would lose some of their shape without a football team here to follow. (Perhaps some of you have stronger feelings...)
Today, however, I realized that what the Vikings really need, but do not have, is a Shane. Even in a bad economic climate, there's a good case to be made that it's much cheaper to build a new stadium now than it will be to acquire a new franchise AND build a new stadium later. You can even file it under the aforementioned category of "stimulus".
As has been pointed out in many places recently, whenever the government spends money, it spends money. That means that they give it to someone else who will, in turn, give it to someone else. (One exception: If you give it to big banks, they will just stick it in the vault. They are far too disciplined to go around either spending or -- gasp -- loaning it to people.)
So, if you figure that the state would pay, say, half of the billion dollars toward a Vikings stadium, they would be giving that to design and construction firms who would pay it to their employees who would spend it at Target who would give it to their suppliers who would pay their employees, and so on and so on. How much of that half a billion would be paid back as taxes somewhere along the way? A fair amount.
No amount of spending can really create permanent jobs. There is no such thing. Any spending creates a short-term boost (though some boosts certainly last longer than others). If we're serious about jump-starting the economy, building a stadium is as good a public works project as anything else -- quite literally. It can represent up to four years worth of boosting. That's gotta be worth something to an economy.
Here's a quick look into the layout of the Metropolitan Club.
(Warning: Begin rant.) I've said before that I don't like to stray too far into politics on this site, but it has to be said that the Pawlenty administration seems to be going out of its way to do the shortest-sighted things possible (accounting tricks, cutting aid to cities and closing arts-related agencies are all at the top of that Stupid list). Meanwhile, despite their large numbers, the DFLers seem flummoxed and frozen by the governor's dopey intransigence. They are at least as much to blame for the level of inaction we're witnessing.
Were there even a semblance of vision anywhere at the capitol they would already be surgically raising and lowering taxes (on a temporary basis and with the tacit permission of those affected), increasing spending to sectors with the most immediate economic impact (stadiums included there), supporting cities' efforts to right their own budgets by either freezing aid where it is or restoring some of that which has been lost in the past six years, and accepting that running a deficit budget (when done carefully and with vision) can actually be a successful short-term solution.
If there were any true leaders there, they would have realized by now that any business which decides where to locate based strictly on a state's tax climate is not one that you want to host. The companies you want to attract will understand that good education, and care for those on the margins, are worth a corresponding increase in the tax rate. It leads to a climate in which they can be successful for a very long time. You want businesses that are looking for that. Put bluntly, Pawlentyville looks a lot like Pottersville. It's a sad place where people sit on their money and everything fades to black-and-white. (End rant.)
Back to my earlier point. If the Vikings had a Shane, that person would be figuring out who exactly among the legislators is beating the stimulus drum the loudest. Then the Vikings would take that info and get those people together into a core of support and gradually build around it. That's pretty much what happened with the Twins deal.
It's not impossible, but it will probably take someone unexpected to do the very tedious leg work.
I guess that's my way of saying thanks, Shane.
Back In the Ground
While I was away, I heard that La Velle E. Neal mentioned this site on KFAN one morning. So, welcome to everyone who either heard that show or came through the link on his blogroll.
I sent him a calendar for his trouble. You can still get yours -- they're going out at cost right now, so don't expect the price to go any lower. And I'm certainly willing to talk interesting trades...
You may have noticed that I've been sprucing up the site a bit. Check out the image links in the right column. There's lots of info on this site (already well over 1000 images) that might be interesting and relevant long after the original posting. It's my hope that you'll find something to explore there.
The images are selected randomly with every page load. So if you don't see something interesting right away, just hit your refresh button.
I've also heard your pleas to make the comments easier to navigate. That's next on my list.
"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Click to enlarge.
The flowers don't have quite the fullness depicted in the original sketches (where they were positively overflowing), but they are quite lovely -- a great, subtle touch. And that's probably a very challenging place to grow anything.
This terrible picture shows the netting in place through a knothole on Fifth
Rally Hanky (2002 ALCS)
The right field overhang is in place, and the first base stands are starting to go in.
Polo Grounds from the south
That's Fifth Street (and a tattooed arm) in the foreground.
Thanks for all the hard work out there, Cold Safety-Line Dudes. (I'm glad that my job does not require safety lines...)
Sunday afternoon, WFTC-HD 720P
Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.
This will be a great neighborhood. Note that the covering is being built for the emergency access. Also, note the streamers above, which appear to be monitoring air flow.
Just up the foul line, it looks like the base of the wall in foul territory on the right side.
Bag checking at Ball Park Lanes was incredibly simple, as was the pick up later. The line was short and fast-moving.
Looking back toward First Avenue
The view from our Loge Box
Steel going up fast.
The old flour Gold Medal Flour Mill, located next to the new Guthrie theater (Source: RP)
What has been actually built so far is only a tiny subset of this vision.
This view looks through the opening in the fence where the crosswalk will be.
Banners on the parking ramp are a great touch. They help manage scale and turn a lemon into lemonade. On my way there today I passed the WCCO building and remembered how the Twins schedule used to be painted in giant form on the side of that building (which is no longer visible). Wouldn't that be a great thing to resurrect on the side of that ramp? A giant Twins schedule. I always thought that was cool.
At left, across the tracks by that pile of dirt is where the Northstar commuter train platform will be built, and where Twins fans will apparently NOT be able to get a train after night games. (For reference, that's the Fifth Street bridge, with the ballpark site just beyond it. The east corner of Ford Centre is just visible at the right edge of the picture.)
(Click to enlarge)
All three seating mounds
Discussions in progress on some very brown grass...
This was from January 19, 2007, when it looked like wonderful things might never happen here.
Team pennant. (Click to enlarge.)
Main concourse, looking toward the admin building.
Looking up Seventh Street (click to see what it looked like from the same spot in 1950)
A slightly different elevation drawing, again viewed from Fifth Street, with some labels. (Click to enlarge.)
Denard Span ready, in a swoop of sunlight.
This is an angle I have not used very much, from the top of the Fifth Street ramp. Because the wall is so tall (forget about watching a game from here for free -- OK, maybe with a step stool) I have to hold the camera up over my head and just snap, hoping I get something good. Here I did. This view then looks to the southwest.