Congratulations to UNC and to Illinois for a well-played and highly entertaining tournament final game the other night. I have seen - without fail -
every final game since 1954 when LaSalle beat Bradley; this was a particularly good game.
Here in the DC area, people are still euphoric about the arrival of the Nationals. The city fathers continue to move ahead - surely with some steps
backward upcoming - with regard to a new stadium and how to pay for its construction. A stadium architect has been selected by some process and you
may have heard some of the silly pomposity involved in that proposal where the firm indicated that it would use glass prominently in the design to
call to mind the "transparency of democracy". That is stupid enough and if you listen to Tony Kornheiser's radio program, you have heard him rant on
this topic. There is yet another layer of silliness here.
The people who made the selection of the firm for the city seemed challenged to match this level of pomposity at the time of the announcement. They
reported that they believed that the vision of the architect as contained in his proposal would allow for a change in the paradigm of stadium design.
I know that it has become fashionable to use "change of paradigm" as a buzzword in "management-speak", but this is abject balderdash. A paradigm is
the set of fundamental concepts and mechanisms that underlie reality and the way things are and the way things happen. Now, let's look at the paradigm
for baseball stadium construction.
It is going to be a large structure not a small one. Why? It has to seat 40 – 50 thousand people and those people take up space. It cannot be the
size of a tanning bed no matter what the vision of the architect may be.
It is going to be generally square when viewed from above. Why? Baseball is best suited to a square playing field. They've tried it on rectangles when
the Dodgers played in the LA Coliseum for a while and that was less that wonderful. A triangle is not likely to work. The structure could be a large
circle with the field inscribed in it as a "square" but that is hardly a paradigm change no matter what the vision of the architect might be.
It is going to be relatively low and wide. Why? If you built it short and tall the distances to the outfield fences might be only 110 feet and the
people sitting in the top rows might need oxygen - assuming you could get approval from the FAA to build a building that tall no matter what the
vision of the architect might be.
It will need utilities such as electricity and plumbing in large quantity. Why? If you built the stadium without toilets, people would turn it into a
latrine on the first day and then would never come again. Since there will be toilets, you might just as well go ahead and wire the place up and serve
food and beer to people and make some extra cash. That is part of the reality of the architect's "vision".
There will be no paradigm change in this construction project. It will look a bit different from other stadia; at a cost of $600M before the overruns,
it damned well ought to. Oh wait, here's a possible paradigm change that could be particularly relevant for DC. Maybe the construction can be done on
time and to specifications and within budget. That would be outrageously different for any such project in the DC area.
Down in the Orlando area, the University of Central Florida is considering spending $43M to build a new football stadium that would seat 46,000 fans.
My first reaction to this was to wonder why they would do that because surely there was not an over-abundance of demand to see UCF football last
season when the team was 0-11. Then I thought that with George O'Leary as the coach, UCF would issue a press release saying they were actually 8-3
last year and hoped for a BCS Bowl game this year. But eventually, I realized that the folks in Florida might actually have some paradigm change
potential in them. They propose to build a stadium for 46,000 folks for $43M; in DC, they will build a stadium for about 45,000 folks and it will cost
$600M - before the overruns and the creative accounting. Maybe that architecture firm hired in DC needs a field trip to the Orlando Florida area...
As the MLS season begins. I noticed that Pele is involved in an effort to develop a soccer channel that will be broadcast here in the US. It will be
all soccer-all the time. That concept might work in several areas of the world where rabid interest in soccer and sufficient levels of disposable
income on the part of the viewing public intersect. Here in the US, only the disposable income criterion is met. However, golf and tennis channels
survive here in the US even though they are niche markets in terms of fan sporting interests. So, maybe a soccer network can survive here too.
Don Garber is the commissioner of MLS and if you believe him, you'll be running to grab your piggy bank to shatter it and invest all your coins in
this new soccer channel venture. Garber said, "Our [MLS'] goal is ultimately to be the top sport in the United States." Think about that; MLS
replacing the NFL at the top of the sporting and economic ladder in terms of fan interest and revenues here in the US. And you have the chance to get
in on the ground floor with Pele and his soccer TV network if you move quickly. If you think that is going to happen anytime in the next few decades,
you do not have a clue - - and you would not recognize a clue if one were to walk up to you and bite you on your posterior and announce in a loud
voice, "Listen up! I am a clue!"
Roger Brown reported recently in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Cleveland franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League is up for sale. No offers
had been forthcoming at the time and maybe that was due to the current owners' marketing shortcomings. Here is a quote from one of the owners in the
"Indoor soccer just isn't a profitable business in Cleveland. We're just not making any money and I don't see any way we can."
And these guys are trying to sell that team to other businessmen? I wonder if they used a similar inspirational marketing strategy in trying to sell
the people of Cleveland on the entertainment value of coming to the indoor soccer games? If so, that might explain why they just aren't making any
Remember last year when Andy Reid told Terrell Owens that Reid would wear spandex tights if Owens caught 15 TD passes? Someone asked Reid if he would
make that same offer again this year. Reid said he would not; but he added, "This year, I'm going to streak." Somehow, this proclamation must have
eluded the attention of the Puritanical element of our society because if they took notice they would be in full throat about the horror of someone
like Andy Reid streaking. I certainly would not be looking forward to such a spectacle, but I don't think it would ever happen. If Andy Reid were "to
streak" he would likely be rear-ended by a glacier.
Finally, a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
"Anna Kournikova will be a fill-in cohost of ABC's The View. Coincidentally, Kournikova, Barbara Walters and Star Jones have all won the same number
of pro tennis tournaments."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon