Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Baseball, hotdogs, Congress, and misplaced priorities

paris-moneypile.gifThis is what it's all about...

I was so angry when I read this article in today's Post, "Nats TV Feud Might Be Bound For the Hill," about the pandering of Tom Davis (Virginia) in Congress and State of Maryland Representative Peter Franchot because big bad Comcast doesn't plan on broadcasting as many Washington Nationals baseball games as people might like.

It's all tied up in the b.s. deal that Major League Baseball made, giving the majority of the Washington Nationals baseball television rights to the Baltimore Orioles. It's not like I try to expend much energy defending rich people, but Comcast is angry because creating a Baltimore Orioles (dominated)-Washington Nationals television network will compete with their own Regional Sports Network. So they are playing "hardball" vis-a-vis the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals get caught in the middle.
Baseball Spring Training on Yahoo! News Photos.jpgDo you really feel better about your community if a bunch of mercenaries win a game? Caption: Washington Nationals' Jose Guillen, right, is greeted at home by teammate Alfonso Soriano after hitting a two-run homer off Houston Astros' Brandon Backe in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game at Space Coast Stadium, Sunday, March 26, 2006 in Viera, Fla. Washington won 13-6. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Well, as people say in online MUDs, WTF? Who cares?

Congress can expend energy on something like this?

Meanwhile the real issue in professional sports leagues-community interaction is how cities let themselves get raped, pretty much, and give hundreds of millions of dollars to wealthy people and sports leagues to build stadiums and arenas with costs so high that increasingly the average person is priced out of attending anyway.
Of course, it's not like I haven't written about this before, such as in this blog entry, "Screw investigating steroids, Congress needs to look at how cities screw themselves over sports stadia," from last November.

But that might get in the way of Congresspeople getting free tickets to attend games, hanging with the people who own teams, etc.

Politicians (and a few partisans) protest MASN-Comcast  District of Baseball.jpCongressman Tom Davis of Virginia speaking at a press event a couple days ago about the "travesty" of the under-scheduling of Nationals baseball games on Comcast cable systems. Photo from the District of Baseball blog (which I will be adding to the local link section). Also see the Nationals Pride website for more about this terrible injustice.

Speaking of injustice, check out this Tom Toles editorial cartoon. And note the demographics of the crowd (I cound one non-white person) and consider this event in the context of this article from the Washington Post, "Area Soon to Be Mostly Minority." - House committee releases report on Palmeiro.jpgRep. Tom Davis, R-Va., walks past a poster of Rafael Palmeiro testifying before the House Government Reform Committee during the steroids hearings. Davis announced the committee would not recommend a perjury investigation of Palmeiro. (AP photo) Nov 10, 2005.

Speaking of subsidies of sports stadia and arenas, it's also an issue in NYC (see: the Yankee Stadium project; the failed NY Jets Westside Stadium proposal; or the big money dealing over the Brooklyn Nets), the Daily News has a great piece about Yankee Stadium, "Pols strike out in the Bronx." From the article:

A fast-growing coalition of Bronx residents and civic organizations is asking hard questions about plans by the New York Yankees to build a new stadium in the South Bronx on what was once public parkland. And the more these groups hear, the madder they get.

Just how angry will be clear Tuesday, when a City Council subcommittee holds a hearing on the Yankee plan. It's one of the last steps before a full Council votes on subsidies, zoning changes and city financing for the project. Civic groups plan to descend on City Hall en masse to raise questions that should have been addressed long ago.

The Yankees project, which has been breezing through state and city approvals, needs a complete overhaul. For starters, the plan calls for $70 million in state funds to build new parking garages in and around the stadium, although 61% of people living in the Bronx don't own a car.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (NY/NJ/CT), which advocates mass transit, a far smarter move would be to build a Metro-North station on the Hudson Line, which runs right past the stadium. For $80 million to $100 million, the city would have permanent public transportation instead of thousands of cars jamming local highways and streets...

Savvy civic groups smell a rat. Good Jobs New York, a subsidy watchdog group, is questioning the Yankees' financial estimates, pointing out that more than $400 million in public dollars would go to the wealthiest sports franchise in America - while the permanent in-stadium jobs created would pay, on average, a poverty wage of $17,500 a year.

yankeestadiumrenderingThis is an architecural rendering of the proposed Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York. The New York Yankees announced plans Wednesday, June 15, 2005 for a new $800 million ballpark, which would be built adjacent to the current Yankee Stadium and could be ready by the 2009 season. (AP Photo/New York Yankees)

Couldn't Congress be more concerned about these kinds of issues relating to professional sports rather than the meaningless kinds of things they do address?


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