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Opinion

New stadiums create new problems

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April 16, 2009

I’m here to talk about a tragedy not only in many professional sports.

Most of us who are sports fans dream of seeing our favorite team live and we never forget that first time we went to our favorite team’s game.

The fact that we went into our piggy bank, dragged out a fist full of quarters, slammed them on the counter at the stadium and got a seat right off the third base line. Sadly, these dreams are becoming quite faint as sports moves into the next decade.

Fans tend to get really excited about new stadiums. I remember running around screaming at Miller Park in 2006 when the Minnesota state legislature passed the bill that would enable a new Twins stadium to get built.

However, it’s starting to become so corporatized and cheap that the games are no longer the center of going to a game of any sport. The first problem is that stadiums are putting in way too many amenities that sacrifice the overall effect of the stadium.

My example is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Kauffman was an absolutely gorgeous stadium when I visited it in 2004. I remember the first thing I noticed when I walked in was how green the grass was and the huge waterfalls in center field.

I was really excited when they announced that they were making renovations to the stadium which originally opened in 1973. However, I turned on ESPN and saw some highlights from around the stadium and was disappointed.

Those waterfalls in the outfield have been surrounded by club level seating and restaurants, leaving them barely noticeable and largely detracting from the natural beauty of the stadium.  The second problem is corporate sponsorship of stadium names.

Before I was born, there were many cool names to stadiums. Comiskey Park, Arrowhead Stadium, Metropolitan Stadium and Candlestick Park were just some of the poetic names that these stadiums have had to offer. To look at the current culture, all you have to do is look across the river and see the names of the two new monstrosities that are scheduled to open in the next year.

On the University of Minnesota campus we have TCF Bank Stadium (which is the sixth stadium in the football championship subdivision to be named by a corporate sponsor) and shoved neatly in downtown Minneapolis is the new Twins stadium, Target Field which is right next to the Target Center and the soon to be built Target Plaza.

This is ridiculous.

Corporations pay for the luxury suites inside these stadiums, so this sadly will not change anytime soon. Last, but most certainly not least is the ticket prices for a game. This is a really bad problem in football.

Pittsburgh and New England recently built new stadiums and although they’re really nice, the true fans have been pushed up from the lower deck and into the nosebleed seats in the upper deck. (NOTE: Because of the limited space in this column I won’t even start on the ticket prices of these nosebleed seats.) The lower bowl is now filled with corporate hotshots who really don’t care about the game.

This is something that the owners of these stadiums have lost sight of, the pageantry of the game.

However, all they care about is their bank accounts. Unless if they come up to the back ends of the stadium and see how much the blue collar people pour into their team because they care, not because they want to seal the deal with the Cincinnati office. 

Chris Schad is a student at UW-River Falls.