Ballpark / stadium news roundup
While making further progress on reformatting the pages on this Web site over the past few days, I have fallen behind once again in news on stadium planning, construction, and renovation. Thanks to my always-reliable source Mike Zurawski, I am able to share with you all the following choice tidbits of news:
Last week, the San Jose Planning Commission approved a revised environmental impact statement that raises the chances that a new stadium for the Athletics will be built on the south end of the San Francisco Bay. Local citizens voiced concerns about how such a stadium would affect traffic, parking and noise in the downtown area. See mercurynews.com. Meanwhile, chances for "Cisco Field" ever being built in the Fremont area have dwindled away, as the collapse of the housing market renders infeasible the proposed residential complex that would have been situated just outside the stadium. Even with support from Tesla Motors, which plans to move into the old Toyota-GM joint venture NUMMI auto manufacturing plant nearby, it's just not economically viable. See mercurynews.com.
In Toronto, the founder of the Rogers telecommunication giant, Ted Rogers, passed away
earlier this month [in December 2008], raising questions about whether the Blue Jays and/or Rogers Centre will be sold by the conglomerate. The team has already been forced to cut payroll, and let their star pitcher Roy Halladay go after last season; he is now with the Phillies. See bizofbaseball.com. It was only five years ago that they renamed Skydome "Rogers Centre," and perhaps the name will revert back to the original before long.
It's not baseball, but to me it smells like a prime example of "stadium socialism," pigskin style. The Atlanta Falcons are beginning to push for a new open-air stadium to replace the Georgia Dome, which was built in 1992 -- just 18 years ago. (WTF???) The team president Rich McKay prefers to remain in downtown Atlanta, but they are exploring other options. The Falcons would make an unspecified contribution to pay for the construction costs. "McKay said a retractable roof is too costly, while renovating the Dome would not provide a state-of-the-art facility for the long term." See the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If they do proceed with a "state-of-the-art" football stadium, it would raise questions about whether to continue to maintain the Georgia Dome, which hosts the annual "Chick-fil-A Bowl," among other winter events. Mike Zurawski compares the Georgia Dome to the Rogers Centre; "Built a little too soon before the new stadium wave."
Even more stupid, the NFL announced that the new billion-dollar Jets/Giants stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey will host the 2014 Super Bowl. Mike notes that "this will be the first Super Bowl played in a cold weather city without a dome." See ESPN.
And Mike also reminded me that the NHL Pittsburgh Penquins were eliminated in the Stanley Cups playoffs earlier this month, at the very last game ever played at Mellon Arena. That curious silver igloo/dome was built in 1961, with a revolutionary roof that opened and closed, but it turned out to be a lousy concert house because of poor acoustics. It will be replaced next season by Consol Energy Center.
Nats end so-so home stand
The Washington Nationals managed to shake off their recent five-game losing streak, winning three of five games at home in Nationals Park last week. Within the space of four days, two (2) inside-the-park home runs were achieved by visiting teams: On Wednesday, Angel Pagan of the Mets circled the bases with the ball still in play, and also started a very unusual triple play by making a lunging catch in center field. Yet somehow, the Nationals still managed to win that game, 5-3. In the game on Thursday, the Mets took a 10-1 lead in the early innings, and the Nationals narrowed the gap later on, to no avail. Final score: 10-7.
On Friday interleague play began, and the lowly Baltimore Orioles prevailed over the Nationals, sending them below the .500 mark for the first time since April 15. Thanks to clutch home runs by Josh Willingham on Saturday and Sunday, however, the Nats won the next two games, and thus won the latest round of the "Battle of the Beltways." A two-run single by Adam Dunn capped a four-run rally in the sixth inning on Saturday, and the team held on to the lead. On Sunday, Nats' closer Matt Capps blew a save opportunity, giving up two runs to the O's in the top of the ninth inning. Willingham's walk-off blast to the visitor's bullpen in left center concluded matters on a happy note in the tenth inning, however. It was the Nats' first extra-innings win so far this year. (They have lost three.) See MLB.com.
For the five-game home stand, the Nats scored 26 runs and the visitors scored 27 runs. At least they scored runs when it counted, so I'm not complaining. After a much-needed day of rest, they begin a series against the Giants tonight in AT&T Park.
Once the Nationals return home to Washington from their west coast road trip, they will have a new member on their pitching rotation: none other than Stephen Strasburg! Bruce Orser has been following that story with keen interest. Assuming he is the starting pitcher on June 4, that means "S-Day" is only ten days away. And just to remind us that he is human, Strasburg gave up his first two runs in AAA baseball last night.