February 5, 2010 [LINK / comment]
The mail bag: stadium news, etc.
After a longer-than-expected hiatus due to "technical difficulties beyond my control,"
I have returned to cyberspace. (Cue Gen. MacArthur.) Leading off in my mail bag, as usual, is Mike Zurawski, who has a huge volume of news to share about baseball stadiums as well as baseball-related football stadiums.
In Chicago, they are removing the unsightly concrete exterior on the south (first base) side of Wrigley Field. The renovation is scheduled to be completed in 2014, the centennial of the beloved historic ballpark. See baseball-fever.com. (Bruce Orser brought the same item to my attention.) Well, it's about time! The exterior at Wrigley Field has never received as much attention as it should have. They are also renovating the iconic scoreboard, with the huge painted "Cubs" pennant on the back, and it is currently enclosed by scaffolding on the rear (street) side. See bleedcubbieblue.com.
In The Bronx, the escalator "pod" in left field of Yankee Stadium is being torn down. Frankly, I'm surprised they aren't making more progress in bringing the whole thing down. Opening Day is only eight weeks away! See baseball-fever.com.
In Toronto, they are getting ready to install new artificial turf at Rogers Centre. The existing playing surface, which looks like a parquet floor because of the heavy seams between the small square sections, was installed in 2005. Hopefully, the new surface will look less fake. See nationalpost.com.
In Fremont (located in California, for you folks in Rio Linda ), hopes are rising once again that the Oakland Athletics may yet build a stadium in their city. It would be built on the site of the soon-to-be-closed Nummi automobile plant (a joint venture of two ill-fated corporations, Toyota and GM), fairly close to a new BART station. Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman is promoting the idea, and they recently held a public rally to support bring the A's to town. See ktvu.com. I'm still skeptical of Fremont, and I'm sure that the San Jose alternative site is lucrative enough that they could pay off the Giants for their "territorial rights."
In Portland, PGE park is being converted into a soccer stadium, at a cost of 31 million dollars. That means it will be less baseball-friendly than before, which makes the idea of using it as a temporary venue for a possibly MLB expansion franchise less likely. The Beavers minor league (AAA) franchise may even leave Portland. See bizjournals.com.
On the north side of Miami, where Super Bowl XLIV is about to be held, people are objecting to the proposed use of public funds to put a roof on
Joe Robbie / Pro Player / Dolphins / Dolphin / Land Shark / Sun Life Stadium. See fieldofschemes.com, which notes that they would have to host the Super Bowl for the next 20 years in a row to make money on the deal. As for the stadium itself, "[T]he blueprint includes tearing out the lower bowl of the stadium to add 3,000 prime seats and moving the spectator area closer to the field." See miamiherald.com.
It's a similar problem faced by the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, whose lower seating bowl is too low for many fans to see the field. Chargers will remain in San Diego for a least another season, as they try to put pressure on the city to build them a new stadium. They still might move back to their original home in L.A., however. See nctimes.com.
In Minnesota, there is talk of using Federal government "stimulus" funds ("Build America Bonds") to build a new football stadium for the Vikings in the suburbs. The town of Dayton, in western Hennepin County, is a leading candidate. Governor Pawlenty has suggested using the lottery to pay for such a stadium. See startribune.com and startribune.com. I still think the Vikings and the Chargers can afford to wait another few years at least.
In East Rutherford, New Jersey, demolition of Giants Stadium has started, and it should be complete by late May, when the new stadium will be inaugurated with a Bon Jovi concert. Will someone find Jimmy Hoffa's remains in one of the concrete slabs? See associatedcontent.com.
Thanks as always to Mike for keeping me "on my toes," and for keeping all of us better informed.
And, in other mail...
Bruce Orser sent me some newspaper archives and other very useful historical information about Griffith Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and even Washington Park in Brooklyn. Major league thanks are due to Bruce as well.
Wes Kahn wrote to ask me some probing questions about various old ballparks: "First, let me pay you the highest compliments one can give for producing without a doubt the best ballpark website in the world. Your diagrams have supplied countless hours of hot stove entertainment for several years." I certainly appreciate the kind sentiments, and will try my best to address the questions he raises.
Mike Wagner is nearly finished writing a book about Yankee Stadium (to be called Babe's Place), and wanted authoritative numbers on the early dimensions for it, so I was happy to oblige.
Chris Moffatt reminded me that I needed to do update the Anomalous stadiums page to include Champion Stadium, where the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays played a few games a couple years ago. Done! I also need to do a diagram for it, however. Stephen Poppe never fails to remind of that nagging "chore."
John Grace sent me a link to a page with some great photos of Safeco Field being used for football, as well as for soccer: ysbp.com. It looks familiar, and I may have seen that before.
Finally, a note from Hugh Harris that arrived today: "Just found your site. As a lover of old baseball stadiums, I want to thank you for the wonderful site!!!!"