Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gee, Doesn't This Sound Familar?

Courtesy of the San Francisco Gate, the San Francisco 49ers are working on getting a new stadium to replace Candlestick Park, or Monster Park, or 3com park, or whatever they are calling it this week.

OK, so this is all about pointyball, but the theme of this sounds really familiar. As a matter of fact, if you take any stadium debate over the past 15 years, the theme of the conversation is the same. I could simply outline it in the following way, just change the sport and city name, and it will follow this path.
  • The current team is dissatisfied with the current stadium for whatever reason, be it the stadium is old, lacks certain amenities, they want something more centrally located, they want to make more money, lather, rinse then repeat.
  • The city wants to get involved because they either own the current facility, or want to ensure that the team doesn't cut out of town for the big shiny competing town, whether it is a real threat or implied threat.
  • The city can't very likely spend money targeted for other services on a stadium for a bunch of athletes, so they get creative with their financing, be it targeted taxes, urban renewal districts, private investment, or other revenue streams. Once the plan is announced, there's canned lines about "not threatening vital services" or "protecting the taxpayers"
  • A group of organized or disorganized NIMBYs will step up, saying this is the worst investment ever, and if it was such a good idea, why wouldn't the team finance it themselves. Never mind that if it was financed by the team, the team would find the location that allowed them maximum revenue with minimal restrictions without concern for the city or the fans, and they could leave them high and dry at any given point. Or the fact that sports now is considered part of the livability for certain cities, and put on the same level as arts, entertainment, parks, and other amenities by some citizens.
  • Other NIMBYs will quote exhaustive economic studies about the waste of money sports is for an investment, and talk about potholes, schools, or the like. Never mind that even most economists realize that any authoritative study only covers actual revenue streams directly related to the team, and they can't account for things like secondary businesses being affected by the team (say restaurants in the area getting more business during game day) or how a successful team makes people feel.
  • Either the original plan survives after a ground swell of discussion, or a fallback plan mysteriously appears that actually works in the situation, and then Plan B is the best plan for what we need to do.
  • Repeat these steps until nauseated, the team and city work out a deal, or the team moves to greener pastures.
I'll agree that Lents isn't the best option for a baseball stadium, and as I've posted already, I squarely blame our NBA team for torpedoing the plan and the city council for not sticking to their guns when opposition made their voice heard. Everybody knows the Memorial Coliseum is the right place for the ball park, and I'm only happy that Lents is not only willing to have the park built there, but at least in reading some of their comments, they seem to be happy to have something destination related to draw people in the area.

Cities and sports teams must work together to ensure that all sides are happy, and that you don't have the team leaving in the middle of the night for some destination. Whether you like it or not, sports is something that many people put in the livability category of an area, and what sport experiences are available do play into decisions to move to an area or not. And so these discussions will continue for years to come, and my hope is that the talks get more and more civil in discourse instead of the drop-down, drag out fight that often occurs.

And now..Some other random thoughts:

The Timbers have two matches in Puerto Rico this weekend. Normally, I don't do match preview for matches that I watch on TV, but I will make an exception for this weekend. It's a long weekend, which helps, but I also like the stories from this team. There will be viewings all over town, and to learn about the latest locations, check out http://www.soccercityusa.com/, and visit the Game Day Chat section for Away Game Viewing Locations. At this point, we know Beulahland and the Rogue Pub in NW are showing games, the Cheerful Bullpen is getting set up (I actually get to check out the location tomorrow), and the St. John's Pub is showing Sunday's game. There's rumours of other locations as well, so check out the site for the latest information.

I spent some time getting to know the Timbers on Saturday during the Fan BBQ/Meet and Greet, and the players I did talk with were great. David Hayes is one of my new favorites, as he was extremely personable, charming, and he's happy to be in Portland playing in front of a passionate group of fans. Plus, I got to play a little bit on the PGE Turf in a 7 vs. 7 tournament, and I appreciated the opportunity to run about with an audience. I made a few good plays, and messed up a few points, but it was a good time. Thank you to the team, players and to my friend yabollox for putting it together.

The Timbers Army Football club got its first point by drawing on Sunday afternoon, and I played my best game of the year. Well, the entire team played really well, and we matched up well versus our opponents. And not even the 85 degree temperatures, hot and sticky turf, or the 60 or so opposing fans were going to stop us from getting points. Way to go, dudes!! Although now, our keeper is busted up, so we'll have to resort to plan B.

Isn't it great to not be in the NBA Draft Lottery this year?? Well done, Trail Blazers!!

But in sad news, Brian Grant is dealing with the early stages of Parkinson's disease, as he shared this news earlier this week with ESPN. One of the truly great Trail Blazers of the modern teams and one of the most well likely, this is sad news. But knowing the Rasta Monsta, this disease has no idea who they are dealing with here, and I know he'll do everything possible to beat it.

Finally, 95.5 The Game is debuting a new show tonight, Talk Timbers, in the Portland area. John Strong will host the weekly show, starting at 7 PM, and talk nothing but Timbers for one hour. Gavin Wilkinson, Andy McNamara, and various players will appear on the show, talking about upcoming matches, MLS topics, current season, and other great stories. If you are a Timbers fan, remember to tune in and participate. If you are outside the area, visit 955thegame.com to learn more about broadcasts, or to download a podcast. Oh, and they will be broadcasting some games on the Game, too.

Ok, talk to you all later this week!

No comments: