My beloved Atlanta Braves are moving. They are forsaking a stadium that they’ve played in since 1997 for a new shiny ball-field. There are certainly other political, location, and monetary factors that played into this decision, but the way our culture treats insanely expensive sports arenas is damning.
This scenario takes place all across our country. Sports teams abandon perfectly good arenas for the new and more revenue friendly option – and often hold their local city or county at gunpoint to foot the bill.
The wonderful city of Seattle knows the effects of this all too well. The Kingdome opened up in 1976 and was demolished in the year 2000. The taxpayers are still footing the bill for it. They’ll finally finish paying for it in 2016, almost two decades after it’s implosion.
We live in the age of the throwaway stadium – and you know what, it suits our culture. Most of us approach debt in the same way our cities and sports teams do. We’ll buy a new car – or build a new stadium – even when the old one works perfectly fine. Even if we’re upside down in our old one! What is wrong with us?
We had another intense battle in our city recently over whether the Falcons would move out to the suburbs to build their new stadium. An in-town area was finally settled on for their shiny new gaudy monstrosity – at a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars from the city. And an overall cost of an estimated $1.2 billion. Someone hand me a barf bag. Is that number for real? Their incredibly run-down (sarcasm intended) impossible to play in (sarcasm again) Georgia Dome opened in 1992. I have awesome furniture older than that!
So what’s the problem? I have a lot of issues with the way this system works. But lets focus on the main issue at hand. Stadium lust.
It’s gotten out of hand. I’m tired of it. If my Nissan Altima with over 200,000 miles on it can still hack it, then Turner Field can certainly handle a few hundred more doubles to the left field corner. And the Georgia Dome can also handle some more end zone dances following a sick touchdown run.
What’s up with our incessant need for the latest and greatest? I understand getting rid of the outdated things around us. There’s an obvious reason that typewriter factories don’t exist anymore, right? But these infantile stadiums aren’t an example of that. They do their job and they do it well. Look at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. They’ve been there for 100+ years. And they still bring immense enjoyment to their fan base. Every year. Without fail.
We should build things to last. Stadiums made out of particleboard just won’t do. The short-term Ikea approach towards sports arenas has failed us. It has left us with unfinished bonds for imploded stadiums. It is leaving us with blight in our neighborhoods and richer team ownership to show for it. Lets focus on long-term solutions in our lives as opposed to just grabbing the quickest and cheapest option.
Let’s avoid this in our personal lives as well. Just like the car example I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to ditch our old hunk of junk for a shiny new piece of metal. But that comes with its own problems – a big new monthly payment, higher taxes, and increased insurance costs. Continually “trading up” won’t make you feel better. It won’t solve problems in your life. It’ll only impoverish you. Practice being content. It will pay long-term dividends.
We live in the age of the throwaway stadium. But we don’t have to subscribe to this throwaway mentality.