Facility Follies: They Just Don't Build Stadiums Like They Used To

Published on 14-Mar-2013 by J Square Humboldt

Football - NFL    NFL Daily Update

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Facility Follies: They Just Don't Build Stadiums Like They Used To

And now the cyclical and cynical saga of stadium extortion has landed in Atlanta.

Which means the Falcons are the latest franchise to discover that a growing element of the public isn't 'going gentle into that good night.' Rather, these objectors are taking heed of the final line in Dylan Thomas's famous poem to figuratively "rage against the dying of the light."

Teams have long used the 'musical chairs' gambit to maintain the upper hand in their ploys. There's always another city out there who would seemingly acquiesce to any owner's demands in order to poach a coveted major-sport franchise. Currently, it's the NBA's goofy Maloof Brothers who have pitted Sacramento and Seattle in a death match, and no matter the outcome, they'll emerge from it smelling like roses, striking another victory for villains everywhere.

The Tampa Bay area was baseball's tethered goat for years. Jerry Reinsdorf almost moved the White Sox there before Chicago caved. Similar near-moves were threatened by the Mariners and Giants. Ironically, now it's the Rays that are a threat to move, for the very same reason. And, as Los Angeles now knows -- as evidenced by this archived article --  it's not easy promising a stadium and hoping for a team to re-locate.

However, resistance started to show when Minnesota officials stood up to Twins' owner Carl Pohlad, daring him to move the team to Charlotte. Then, Charlotte voters stood up to Pohlad, too. Ever so slightly, the tide seemed to have turned. It culminated in the San Francisco Giants building their new ballpark with private funds only. Don't think that didn't anger a few of their brethren in the North American sports community. The lie of requiring public funds to make these projects viable had been exposed.

Even the Federal Reserve has long been on record as stating that public spending for new stadiums is a poor return on tax dollars. This conclusion is compounded by the detritus of abandoned facilities everywhere, leaving taxpayers in many cases holding the bag. Even the disposal of these white elephants has become a headache. Definitely not a good return on investment.

In contrast, the gods of history must be smirking. Nowhere in the modern sporting landscape -- not even in Dallas -- can any stadium hold a candle to the Roman Colosseum. Not even a Roman candle.

The Colosseum pioneered the concept of a retractable roof. It had platforms that rose out of the floor to make animals and gladiators appear out of nowhere. It was water-tight so famous naval encounters could be re-staged there. It would be forested and stocked with exotic animals so hunts could be conducted. It had concessions stands that featured healthy fare like leafy veggies, nuts, and olive oil. And it could even clear up to 80,000-or-so spectators in a matter of minutes.

Yes, there were some drawbacks that may have been acceptable practices at the time -- financing its construction and maintenace by plundering the Holy Land; being rather harsh on its version of the 47% who provided the labor; not having the best of nicknames, etc -- but the fact remains that it was in business for four centuries. (And contrary to popular belief, no evidence exists that any Christian was harmed in the making of its productions.)

Seventeen centuries later, no other sports facility can make that claim. And given that the practice of planned obsolescence has become a mainstay in modern society, it's unlikely that any sports facility ever will.