Sunday, December 17, 2006

How to get a new stadium 101

The sun was shining and it was warm like it was a mid-spring day as we drove up to NYC, this time for our Puerto Rican Christmas dinner at Larry's Mum's apartment. It was delicious, delicious, delicious. Her apartment lies just off the Grand Concourse, near the beautiful Bronx Supreme Court building where I once held a surprisingly competitive foreclosure sale a few years ago on a large commercial property (left me with knots in my stomach in case I'd screw up the paperwork as it was my first real estate sale as a NY lawyer and my boss was a difficult mensch, I shall say, diplomatically) for the FDIC and it's got four beautiful pink, unpolished granite reliefs of ancient Greek men and women playing sports and reading tablets in the art deco style.

It also looks right into Yankee stadium, though that's going to change next year because they're busy with the construction of a new multi-million dollar stadium behind it that's beginning to take shape. That's something that blew my mind when I first moved to the United States; how football, basketball and baseball stadiums that are twenty-five years old are suddenly declared obsolete and torn down. America is a throw-away society--from refridgerators to baseball stadiums. Few people repair fridges or stoves anymore because it's easier to throw them out and buy a new one. Crazy, but true. I'm convinced telly and fridge repairmen will soon be categorized as artisans here.

With regards the stadiums, the teams charge huge ticket prices in order to pay their players and management disgusting amounts of money--money that they could earmark to finance the building of their own facilities. Of course they don't want to hear that sort of pragmatism. No, they want the like sof NYC and Philadelphia, etc. tax payers to do that because they think we're all dummies. (It's no wonder the international soccer organization (FIFA) tried so hard to make their sport break-out over here a few years ago. They saw the dollars; but it was all for nothing because soccer's regarded as a women's sport in the US and baseball and American football's too entrenched.)

The rip off of the tax payer normally begins with the team's owners declaring their old stadium is too old and they're going to move to another city (or New Jersey) which they state will build them a new gig; sometime's it's true, but as often as not, it's total bullshit and intended to pressurize the current city's mayor and administration to come to the bargaining table with millions of tax dollars for the new project. The Philadelphia Eagles and Philly's did it a few years ago successfully. And last year was the Yankee's turn.

Regarding another NYC construction project, yesterday was a particularly poignant day at Ground Zero because families of people who were murdered on 9/11 and interested members of the public were invited to come down there and sign the first steel beam that is to become the soaring Freedom Tower. It was available until 3.00 pm. On NYC radio, I heard some family members read (between gasps and tears of sadness) what they'd written about their loved ones on the beam and it was heartwrenching. Some wounds will never heal and it is right and fitting they are being involved in this process.

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