Arlington to MLB: Shove it!
In a stinging rebuke to Major League Baseball and its clumsy, heavy-handed pressure for more taxpayer money to subsidize a new stadium, the Arlington County Board of Supervisors today notified Michael Frey, chairman of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority, that they will oppose any rezoning measures that would be required for a new baseball stadium to be built. This represents a huge victory for the "Not In My Back Yard" activists, and slams shut one of the best chances for getting the Expos relocated to the Washington area next year. This decision is a direct consequence of MLB's inability to lay out a clear procedural road map that might have calmed nerves of Northern Virginia residents, who are rightly tired of getting jerked around -- "Just wait till next year!" -- and leery of getting ripped off just to make franchise owners even richer. According to a story on sportsillustrated.cnn.com:
[Board Chairman Paul] Ferguson said earlier that major league baseball's indecision on recommending a location was hurting the chances of finding a suitable site in Arlington.
"It's a very divisive issue ... and the divisiveness is increasing," he said. "It becomes more difficult for the county to let the divisiveness in the community to continue. There's no guarantee that there will ever be a decision" from baseball.
A couple weeks ago, political activist Ralph Nader wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, rightly condemning the corporate welfare scam that stadium deals have become. His proposal for moving the Expos to Washington was not very realistic, however.
Players rate the ballparks!
The July 7 issue of Sports Illustrated featured a "2003 Player Survey" on various topics, including BALLPARKS! All active MLB players were canvassed, and apparently a solid majority responded. Here are the best and worst stadiums from their point of view, with the percentage of responding players who choose each one:
|Favorite ballparks||Least favorite ballparks|
|Safeco Field||17.6%||Olympic Stadium||22.3%|
|Pac Bell Park||10.2%||Veterans Stadium||10.3%|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards||8.0%||Tropicana Field||7.2%|
|Yankee Stadium||6.7%||Fenway Park||6.0%|
|Bank One Ballpark||6.3%||U.S. Cellular Field||5.8%|
|Busch Stadium||5.8%||Shea Stadium||5.4%|
It is interesting that the two remaining genuine classical stadiums -- Wrigley Field and Fenway Park -- ranked at the very bottom in terms of both playing field quality and visiting team locker room quality. Dodger Stadium has the highest quality playing field, while Tropicana Field (!?) has the nicest visting team locker room. If it's better than the one I saw at Kauffman Stadium, it must be posh indeed.