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Interesting Outsider's View of our Stadiums

Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by texasflip34, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. texasflip34

    texasflip34 Contributing Member

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    Public swindling
    By Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff, 1/27/2004

    HOUSTON -- You could tell this was going to be one ground breaking news conference, what with representatives handing out invitations for it in the media center. Folks who were expecting a vacation villa tour filed out in an orderly fashion.

    The owners of Houston's three major league sports franchises held a press conference yesterday entitled, "How we swindled Houston into public funding." Or something to that effect. I couldn't really hear over all the backslapping involved.

    Since 1996, residents have contributed an enormous sum of $696 million for the construction of three facilities; Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL Texans and Sunday's Super Bowl (and apparently a rodeo), Minute Maid Park, home to Jimy Williams, Roger Clemens, and the Astros, and the Toyota Center, home of the Houston Rockets, apparently owned by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Scooby Gang judging by their odd logo.

    Couple more million here or there and Houstonians could have bought the Red Sox. Bud Selig pending, of course.

    It was after the 1996 NFL season when Bud Adams took his Houston Oilers to Tennessee because the city wouldn't build a new stadium for the future co-MVP and company. You think that freaked out folks here? Eight years have passed, and now, if you wanted to build a stadium for say, oh, a beer league Wiffle ball team, you could probably get public funds.

    According to the owners, the public is just peachy-keen with having ponied up all that dough. Why, Texans owner Bob McNair cited a poll where 56 percent of those asked felt they were getting their money's worth. See, there's your proof right there.

    Of course, the flip side is that 44 percent feel they aren't getting their money's worth, and that's an even more enlightening number than 56 depending upon the participants. If you ask 100 people, each sporting a Yao Ming jersey, what do you think their answer is going to be? If you ask 100 other folks, who think David Carr is a new line of Volkswagens, what do you think they're going to say?

    Not that these aren't nice places. For a total cost of $1.138 billion they had better be. In fact, they're quite remarkable. Teddy Sarandis would be in heaven down here, with not one, but two retractable roof stadiums. Wow!

    Imagine the FleetCenter, but nice. That's the Toyota Center. The Field Formally Known As A Bankrupt Houston Enterprise is a gorgeous facility, save for the stupid Duffy Cliff-inspired slope in center field. Now named Minute Maid Park, it is the oldest of the city's Big Three, and it opened in 2000, 88 years after Fenway Park.

    But here's where Massachusetts folks and Patriots fans should take pride. The total construction cost for Reliant Stadium was $500 million, of which the public contributed $275 million. The total construction cost for Gillette Stadium was $325 million, of which the public contributed nothing aside from half a decade of headache-inducing chaos. South Boston first rejected Kraft. The state refused to finance a new stadium. Connecticut jumped in and made an offer, one Bob Kraft accepted to pin Massachusetts legislation's collective back against the proverbial wall. We all knew there was about as much of a chance of the Pats playing at Adrien's Landing as "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" has of landing an Emmy.

    In the end, Gillette (CMGI, we hardly knew ye) was privately financed. The state kicked in infrastructure costs. The Patriots are in the Super Bowl for the second time in three years and everybody's happy. Well, maybe not Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland, but he's got enough on his worry plate right now anyway.

    It's not that public financed ventures are bad. All you have to do is look at Baltimore's Inner Harbor to see how a place like Camden Yards (still the best) can revitalize an area. But there is an air (or err) about these Houston places, an elite mentality. For instance, the Lexus Lounge at the Toyota Center, complete with plasma TVs, leather couches, and private dining rooms is so bling-bling it would even pry J. Lo.'s eyes wide open. Of course, don't kid yourself that it isn't the same way in Foxborough and every new venue throughout the country. Catering to the rich is a way of life in sports today. But these digs in Toyota and Minute Maid make the private boxes at Gillette look like Archie Bunker's living room.

    And how much of the public, paying for these extravagant rooms, gets to see these privileged spots? How many get to watch the Rockets play from a private suite? Millions who foot the bill will never see what they're paying for. In a way, I guess that's no different than wondering where in the heck my salary went when I glance at my pay stub, but at least that dough is going to some dirty politician, not Astros owner Drayton McClane's pocket. Or the newest Astro, The Rocket.

    The public voted, and they chose to donate stadium financing. Fifty-six percent are happy that they did. Indeed, the Texans, Astros, and Vampire Slayers are very happy with what they've accomplished down here. They even took the time to tell us so.

    Meanwhile, all poor Bob Kraft gets to talk about is his team's presence in the Super Bowl. Again. Not even a retractable roof to speak of.

    Missing history

    Actual conversation with an NFL transportation volunteer:

    "So, they must be going nuts up there in Boston."

    "Yeah, indeed they are."

    "I mean it would be huge. This would be the Patriots' first Super Bowl win."

    "Um, what?"

    "Their first."

    "Or, second. They won it two years ago."

    "Oh, right. They beat the Rams. Where am I?"

    Seeing as this is the Space City, Mars.

    On the town

    Thanks a bunch to the multitude of you that wrote in emphasizing that the bellman didn't know what he was talking about when I arrived with my late night hunger. I'll be sure to explore some of your suggestions. Among Matt Kerrigan's, a transplanted Bostonian in Houston, I had to share his story:

    "I was living in Switzerland when the Pats beat the Rams. On Super Bowl Sunday, I got up at 1 a.m. (by then it was actually Super Bowl Monday in Europe) and was able to find (and tape) the game, which was broadcast in German. The only real distraction was that the commercial breaks on Swiss TV weren't synched to the US commercial breaks, so Brady would drop back to pass and (cut!) suddenly you're in the middle of a German beer commercial wondering how the play went. This time I'm not only in the right country, but living in the right city, about 6 minutes from Reliant."

    On the bright side, at least it was German beer and not "Heidi."

    Courtesy (or not?) of the Houston Chronicle print edition comes the "Web Site of the Day," amiannoying.com, which lists reasons why the Patriots and their fans might (or might not) be annoying.

    Houston hosted an Opening Ceremony last night, honoring the 38 (get it?) sports legends from the city's history. Included were Clemens, Mary Lou Retton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Nolan Ryan. Musical guest for the evening was Yanni, who would be high on a list of 38, but legend wouldn't be the word used.

    If you need a mental picture of the colossal George Brown Convention Center, where the media center is housed for the week, think Death Star, but with color.

    There's a familiar tune being played down here, with folks just wanting to talk baseball, even with the Big Game in town, somewhat akin to the beyond ridiculous A-Rod situation in Boston, while the Pats raised their hand like the nerd in the back row trying to get attention. But who can blame them? The Astros are going to be one difficult team to deal with in the NL Central.

    Pushing the naming rights to the edge: At the Toyota Center, you can park your car in the Tundra Garage. Not sure about the Highlander Nosebleed Seats.

    Some comfort for New Englanders mired in a snowstorm. While it was 70-plus degrees here yesterday, some Mt. Washington scale gales came through town last night, dipping temps into the 30's. Some comfort for a New England skier mired in Houston. Heck, it was 70 degrees with not a scant of humidity yesterday. The hill can wait a fortnight.
     
  2. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

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    ", if you wanted to build a stadium for say, oh, a beer league Wiffle ball team, you could probably get public funds."


    umm, it would be nice if they actually knew their facts...

    jeff.. it was just ever so easy to get the rockets vote passed wasn't it

    as for public funds.. I'm sure charging tourist taxes is just hurting the houstonians pocket so much :eek:
     
  3. Vengeance

    Vengeance Contributing Member

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    Also, if he'd been here he would've realized that the people of Houston didn't really dislike putting up the money for a stadium when the Oilers left, they just disliked putting up the money for Bud Adams.
     
  4. mrdave543

    mrdave543 Contributing Member

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    its bob lanier that had a problem with bud adams.....i still blame bob lanier for losing the oilers and in the process building 3 new stadiums....what a moron
     
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    i'm sorry...did he just compare Gillette Field to Reliant Stadium?? ummmm...i think you're missing the point, chowder head.
     
  6. boomboom

    boomboom Contributing Member

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    I'm glad someone shares this opinion...I still blame Bob for the Oilers leaving (although I know Bud had a huge part in the deal).
     
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    I can't believe I'm going to go through this all over again....but Houston was never given a choice.

    We were still paying the interest on the loans for the improvements made to the Dome that placated Bud's previous threats to move to Jacksonville. Initially, he was not taken seriously. You can only "cry wolf" so many times.

    Bud set up a sham press conference about a dome downtown saying the Rockets would play there too. Of course, he had never spoken with the Rockets about it. And the Rockets immediately distanced themselves from that project, knowing full-well the problems that San Antonio was already having playing hoops in a dome.

    Bud got pissed and signed an EXCLUSIVE negotiatiing agreement with Tennessee. To the terms of the agreement, we couldn't even negotiate with the Oilers to keep them there. By the time he got back, he had already sealed the deal. Lanier made a last-ditch effort, offering an open-air stadium, and Bud said, "it's too late."

    Throughout the whole mess, no one..and i mean no one...stood up for Bud. No friend came forward to say, "hey...let's get this deal done." This from a man who made his fortune here for 40 years. The business community was silent...because he's a jackass..and no one liked him.
     
  8. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

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    Damn, people hear the words "public money" and they automatically go into idiot mode. I wonder if this nimrod knows that he's the one paying for the stadiums...:D

    THAT is funny, though...
     
  9. codell

    codell Contributing Member

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    Exactly. Unless a Houstonian actually stayed in a hotel in their own city or rented a vehicle, then they didnt pay a dime for any of the stadiums.

    Someone tell Eric Wilbur that his employer is probably contributing more towards the financing of our stadiums this week alone, than the average Houstonian has the last 5 years.

    Scoreboard. ;)
     
  10. coma

    coma Contributing Member

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    Did anyone hear Jim Nance on 610 this morning? He was pretty pissed about all the negative press we were getting from these 2nd rate, bitter limp dicks. He said he knows all of them, and will give them a piece of his mind. Also, he said he has the last word, and will make sure he gives Houston props.

    Jim Nance, here's to you.
     
  11. Blatz

    Blatz Contributing Member

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    Maybe we should send him a Thank You note for his contributions to our stadiums
     
  12. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    this article just drips with the snobbery of a northeast journalist wallowing in sour grapes.

    :rolleyes:

    It is a real shame that journalists dont care to actually put something called "facts" into their articles.

    Vampire Slayers?

    heh...tired.
     
  13. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    i'm just waiting for an article that says, "Houston, You Have a Problem"

    I think that would be immensely fresh!! :rolleyes:
     
  14. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I actually love Bud Adams and Bob Lanier now. Think about it, if either of them had been the better man and the Oilers would've stayed in town, there's a chance that MMP wouldn't have been built, nor the Toyota Center. With him leaving, we got three brand new badass stadiums, the best in the country, collectively.

    I say thanks.
     
  15. Black Sheep

    Black Sheep Member

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    And that writer with all the rest of the visitors coming to Houston that are paying for our stadiums, I say thanks also.
     
  16. BrianKagy

    BrianKagy Contributing Member

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    We've already got a baseball franchise that can't win in the post-season.
     
  17. Chance

    Chance Contributing Member

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  18. Yao Wink

    Yao Wink Member

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  19. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    LOL! Sweeeeet! :D
     
  20. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

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    what is this bill simmons babbling about it being so cold in houston.. and claiming the patriot players were shivering?

    I am not in Houston right now, but i doubt it was THAT cold.. or they'd have the roof closed for media day..
     

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