Monday, November 11, 2013

Of stadiums and aging

Big news over the past couple of weeks w/ regard to baseball teams I follow.

Well, the news is not really about the teams but, rather, about the venues where they play, or used to play.

Voters in Houston, TX last week rejected a referendum that would have authorized a bond issue, the proceeds from which would have gone to make the tired old Astrodome (once dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World") into a convention center.

Alas, it will now probably have a date with a wrecking ball, having fallen into disrepair. Once ahead of its time as the first indoor sports stadium (completed in 1965), in less than 50 years it has become obsolete. No teams have played there since 1999 and it has become an eyesore for the city.

It's especially sad to me because, ever since I visited the Astrodome in 1966 as an 8-year-old, the Astros have been my favorite baseball team. To be sure, they have tested my loyalty with mediocre and downright bad teams. Ownership and management have frustrated me.

But the "unkindest cut of all" was their switch to the American League. And they treated us all to another 100-plus losses this past inaugural season in the AL. The pain continues.

Yet I remain a fan. I hold on to those scant handful of division championships and the one glorious year they won the National League pennant (2005). Even though they were swept by the White Sox in the World Series, they made it to the dance.

Now the venerable old building where I became a fan will probably be no more.  Very sad.


And what do you know, today the Atlanta Braves big wigs announced the team would be moving from Turner Field and will build a new facility in Cobb County just north of the city.

I'm not really sad about this but I am pretty surprised they are vacating a park that is less than 20 years old. Turner Field was completed in 1997 (originally built for the 1996 Olympics and scaled down after that event), the successor to Fulton County Stadium. Both parks were near downtown Atlanta and the fact is the location is terrible. Parking is a nightmare and the surroundings are anything but fan friendly.

Braves management say Turner Field needs upgrades that would be costly. The Braves have a lease with the City of Atlanta that will apparently expire in the next three years. The new stadium should be ready for the 2017 season.

Since, of course, it's all about me as a fan, I've decided this is good news. The move north will take about a half hour off of my drive and I will welcome not having to drive through downtown and all the Atlanta traffic to get to a game.


So what's next? Will the Cubs abandon Wrigley? Will Fenway Park become a dinosaur? Only time will tell, but it's becoming clear it's out with the old.

And old just doesn't seem to be very old anymore.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

My memory of the Astrodome is from a vacation with my sister's family one year. Believe it or not, the game we were scheduled to attend was rained out (of the indoor stadium!) due to flooding in Houston. Seems like we were stuck on the Interstate in our car.