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Monday, January 14, 2008

Take Me Out To a Ballpark

I can only assume that those who don't care about baseball don't have first hand memories of how great baseball was. Given the past 30 years, that is rather understandable. Part of the burden of memory is the desire to pass that on to a generation just becoming. I don't need to apologize for what baseball seems to have become. What is often overlooked is baseball is bigger than its participants. It is bigger than its owners. It is even bigger than George Will, Kevin Costner and Ken Burns put together. Baseball is the sum of 150 years of history. It's part of the blood of America. It unites black and white, young and old, rich and poor. The only thing it requires are players, fans and maybe a ballpark.

To continue with the analogy. Baseball is not fast food. It doesn't need a freeway exit. It just needs love. The good news is there is tons of love out there just waiting to be tapped, by Richmond, the home of baseball since the civil war. Integrated teams were playing here long before Jim Crow. There were ballparks in the Fan and on Mayo Island. For a brief season or two, Richmond WAS a major league city. For lots for reasons we no longer are, nor do I want it to be. I'm happy being a 2nd tier city. Bigger is not not better. Better is better.

I have a dream of Richmond... with a new ballpark and/or a new team. I must admit I have never liked the (Atlanta) Braves, mostly because of TBS and Chief Knock-A-Homa. The Tomahawk chop is reason enough, thanks Dion. I want a new ballpark in or near downtown. Shockoe Bottom, Mayo Island or even Manchester will do. I want 500,000 suburbanites coming downtown each year, spending their money and seeing what they are missing. So goodbye Braves, hello Nats or whoever. Lets call them something Richmond. How 'bout River City Rapids?

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Anonymous said...

I would rather the Braves stay, but I am not willing to be held hostage by them either. My taxes should be going for real priorities, not baseball stadiums.

The arts and convention centers are bad enough. The unjust water rates are bad also. The urban forestry program is in desperate need and as we lose more trees, we will see more Battery Parks and flood/stormwater damage/costs.

But the biggest priority for the City should be the school buildings. Right now the City is still not compliant with ADA laws. Equal access to a quality education must be a priority. The City has already been sued a few times for it. What’s it going to take? The National Guard coming, like in Little Rock fifty years ago?

Spoiled sports corporations and myopic fans are the least of my worries.

By all means, start a new team. Sell shares to the public, just leave taxpayer money out of it.

Paul Hammond said...

My priority is an active vibrant downtown that generates tax dollars for the rest of the city. My priority is a place where people want to come and spend their time.

Arts, sports and convention centers are not just pretty things. They draw investments and people and enhance the quality of life. They help pay for trees, infrastructure and schools.

I believe myopia is defined as near or short sightedness. Have you had your eyes checked lately?

Anonymous comments are allowed, but not encouraged, though in this case I think I recognize the author.

Paul Hammond said...

Anonymous would like to reply, but will have to choose some identity first.

Eric said...

Held Hostage?? Spoiled Sports Corporations?? Name a Sporting event in Richmond that has offered up 1/3 of the cost to build new stadium? And name a sporting event that you can attend for the Price of Richmond Braves Ticket??

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