Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Old Rugged Stadium (Not)

Are stadiums and arenas becoming the latest examples of Planned Obsolescence?  I cannot believe the increasingly short lifespans these (usually taxpayer funded) structures have.

As a Baltimore Colts fan, I'll never forget how that snake in the grass Bob Irsay snuck the team out to Indianapolis and their state-of-the-art Hoosier Dome (which, like just about every other stadium these days, went through a couple corporate name changes after that).  It opened in 1984.  Twenty-five years later, it's gone, replaced by LucasOil Stadium, which is -- you guessed it -- publicly financed.  Giants Stadium was just torn down at the ripe old age of 35.  The Pontiac Silverdome hosts a few conventions and expos, but that's about it.  Its punishment for being built in 1975?  Being sold for slightly more than an upper middle class home.

Down the road in Sacramento, Arco Arena opened in 1988.  Despite the fact that every Sacramento Kings game is sold out, there's talk about building a new arena on the site of the Cal Expo.  And note this inside the story of how the NCAA is no longer holding March Madness games at Arco:

The NCAA rejection message supports what the owners of ARCO Arena have been saying for a number of years. Built in 1988, ARCO is the oldest arena in the NBA.

There you have it.  A structure built in 1988 is now "old."  It's all about Not Being The Last Kid On Your Block To Have A New Building.  Or, it's a case of How Many Luxury Boxes Can We Squeeze In?  (Never mind that the recession has made many companies cut back on those expenses.)

Now I have not been to Arco personally, and I know some folks who have are less than happy with it.  But I can't imagine it's worse than Baltimore's First Mariner Arena, which is going on *50* years old and is woefully inadequate for everything.  Even in college, we called it the Baltimore "Urena." 

Fortunately, across the country, taxpayers have been increasingly saying "no" to publicly financed stadiums, especially when they don't need to be replaced for any other reason than to satisfy the whim of an owner.  And let's hear it for the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park, which was compeletely financed through private funds.  That needs to be the rule, not the exception, in sports.


Anonymous said...

In 1969, I was a kid at Candlestick and an SFPD officer warned me not to lean on the wall because the structure was old and falling a part. Society has really changed since the days of Willie Mays.