The St. Louis Cardinals want a new stadium. It seems like everyone else is building a new stadium, and Busch Stadium was one of five multipurpose stadiums built in the late 1960s (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinatti, St. Louis, and Atlanta) that looked almost exactly alike–and that wouldn’t have been so bad, I suppose, except they all looked like toilets. Well, after Anheuser-Busch sold the team to a group of investors, the new owners realized that humongous toilet-shaped stadiums with artificial turf are ugly, so they moved in the fences, ripped out the turf and put in grass, and since retro is in, they erected a hand-operated scoreboard in the upper deck (the seats they displaced were lousy anyway).
Now, Busch Stadium has always been a lousy place to watch a baseball game. The architecture harkens back to post-war East Germany. The stadium has no charms, aside from the retrofitted scoreboard. And unless you’re in the box seats, you need binoculars to see anything. There isn’t a good seat in the house. Once you’ve been to a game at Wrigley Field, or Royals Stadium (yeah, yeah, it’s officially Kaufmann Stadium now, but I’ll never change), you realize what watching a baseball game is supposed to be, and Busch Stadium ain’t it. It’s more fun to watch the Royals and Cubs lose in their home parks than it is to be there–it’s hard to call what you do at Busch “watching”–when the Cardinals win in theirs. Force large numbers of Kansas Citians to watch a few games at Busch Stadium at gunpoint, and they’ll realize how good they’ve got it with Royals Stadium, and then the Royals will start drawing two million fans again.
So the Cardinals want to tear it down. Great, I say. Blow it up. I’ll help. I’ll even donate a little money to the cause.
So, what’s wrong with the Cardinals’ plan to get rid of Busch? They want the State of Missouri to pay for it. And that’s wrong. Why should the citizens of Kansas City be helping to pay for St. Louis’ new stadium? Why should my mom, who’ll probably never go to another baseball game in her life and who almost certainly will never go to a Cardinal game, be ponying up towards that stadium? The argument is that it’ll bring in jobs and revenue.
Fine. So if Boeing decides it wants to move its corporate headquarters here to St. Louis, where it already has some presence anyway, the State of Missouri should pay for it. After all, that’ll bring in even more jobs (and white-collar jobs at that!), and the revenue it brings in will last all year.
There is no difference between those two things. They’re private enterprises that should get their own funding. Period. And besides, the Cardinals aren’t a good investment. If the players strike or are locked out at the end of the season, which is likely, nobody knows what will happen. At best, baseball will be damaged goods. At worst, diehards like me will be following Japanese baseball next season because there won’t be any pro baseball left in the States. If the State of Missouri wants to give the Cardinals a loan, fine, but a handout, no.
And that’s not even figuring in the other parts of the argument. The proposed new stadium is smaller and has less seating capacity than Busch. The Cardinals draw three million fans a year. They fill that wretched place. Cardinal fans would watch baseball on a playground in a slum if that was where the Cards were playing. So, somehow, building a smaller but much prettier stadium is going to help team revenue? Only if they raise ticket prices through the roof. And ticket prices are already awfully high. That move could very easily backfire. Football and hockey are already so expensive that you can’t go to a game without sitting in the middle of a bunch of yuppies complaining that they only made $100,000 on the stock market last year. So the solution is to make baseball, with its 81 home games, the same way? While it might work for a little while, it’s not sustainable. The Cardinals have a rabid following in central Illinois and throughout Missouri, but neither of those places is exactly yuppie town. Make baseball a game for the elite, and the The Rest of Us, who the team’s revenue is built on, will go to fewer games and spend less money as a result.
There’s always the veiled threat that the Cardinals will move, to the Missouri suburbs or the Illinois suburbs, or, ridiculously, out of St. Louis entirely. That last prospect won’t happen. The Cardinals won’t draw three million fans anywhere else. Two million, tops. The move to the Missouri suburbs isn’t likely–Missouri doesn’t want to pay for the stadium whether it’s in St. Louis or in Creve Couer. Illinois is a possibility, but not a risk the Cardinals ownership should be interested in taking. The Illinois suburbs are known for two things: crime and strip clubs. Do they really want their brand-new stadium to be next door to the Diamond Cabaret?
Yes, Cardinal fans will go watch baseball next door to the Diamond Cabaret. They’d watch baseball in the middle of East St. Louis if they had to. Or they’ll keep right on packing it in at Busch, lousy though it may be. It’s lousy, but it’s a good match for the team because it seats buttloads of people, and they consistently fill it, and the stadium may be an eyesore, but it’s nowhere near as old as Fenway Park or Wrigley Field and no one’s complaining about their structural integrity. Busch Stadium will be around for a while. And a lot of fans even like it.
Cardinal management doesn’t know how good they’ve got it, and Missouri needs to continue to call their bluff.
Enough of that. Let’s talk about us. That got your attention I’m sure. Performance this morning was, to put it mildly, pants. Then the system went down like a… never mind. I’m getting really tired of it. I’m paying nothing for this, and lately I’m getting what I pay for. I want to control my own destiny, and I’ve got this nice broadband Internet connection, and some spare parts (and what I lack is cheap) and I want some real sysadmin experience. So, I’m thinking really seriously about moving. I wanted to hit the Userland Top 100 before I moved on, and enough time may pass between now and the time that I get set up for that to happen I may meet that goal yet.
At the moment I’m leaning toward Greymatter, as it’ll give me everything I have here, just about, plus better discussion facilities. Suggestions welcome.