Friday, September 25, 2009

And Now, A Hockey Article

Nope, I lied. But now you'll see how I felt when I started reading Bernie Miklasz's column about an apparent new stadium that was built for the Dallas Cowboys. The place has been open for a while, but apparently Bernie only gets VHF or Clear QAM, as it took NBC's Sunday Night Football to prompt him to write an article about the Cowboys' new stadium. (Spoiler - it's not really about that.)

Let's start at the very beginning. Either I haven't been paying attention (likely, too lazy to look at old posts) or Bernie added his e-mail address and phone number to the top of his articles. Observe:

Bernie Miklasz

Just found that odd is all.

Watching Sunday night's game between the New York Giants and Dallas at the Cowboys' new stadium, and listening to Al Michaels and the NBC boys go completely ga-ga in losing their minds over Jerry Jones' $1.1 billion monument to excess, I began thinking about the NFL scene in St. Louis.

As everyone else in St. Louis was thinking about ways to forget the NFL scene in St. Louis. Odds on favorite was Bud Light. I think it's made here?

When the Edward Jones Dome opened in 1995, it was the envy of a lot of NFL owners, and other NFL cities reacted by funding and building exorbitant new palaces to please their wealthy football merchants.

If you want to be picky, in 1995 it was known as the Trans World Dome. Then American Airlines bought TWA, stripped St. Louis of being a hub, and left the airport an antiquated pile of steel. But this is an article about the... Cowboys new stadium. Yes, that's it.

NFL owners desperately wanted to outdo each other, and the rapid escalation of ego has now reached preposterous levels, culminating in the images being broadcast from Arlington, Texas on Sunday. I'm not one for political correctness, and I'm a free-market guy, and I am blessed to have a few relatively modest perks in life. But the football McMansion near Dallas left me cold and came across as over-the-top and obscene.

I doubt that ego plays any role in it. I'll attempt to show my work.

Owner's Money - Tax Money = Less Owner's Money for New Stadium
New Capacity - Old Capacity = More Seats
More Seats x Raised Ticket Prices = Profit
Less Owner's Money + Profit = More Profit

My macroeconomics teacher would be so proud, given that she wasn't shipped back to Trinidad or Tobago. I forget which one she was from.

I find it hard to believe that a man of Bernie's size could be cold. Poor circulation, perhaps?

Given the hard knocks of a tough economy, and all of the jobs being lost across the country, and the many parents worrying about feeding their kids and paying the bills, it struck me as wildly inappropriate to be glorifying Mr. Jones' collection of designer luxury suites, private clubs, exotic cage dancers and a video board so large that it could span the Tropic of Capricorn.

You know who wont be going to these games? People that worry about paying bills or feeding their kids. And such a large venue being built could not have provided construction jobs, or additional jobs for stadium maintenance. And the Mitsubishi Orgazmotron that was installed must have been supplied for free, not providing jobs to anybody at all. It just fucking appeared. Through God's glory hole in the roof.

Look, there's nothing wrong with having a nice stadium. There's nothing wrong with investing in professional sports for your community, but only up to a point. How far do we go with this? Will anyone, can anyone, try to top Jones? Will some oil sultan rush to build a $2 billion stadium in Dubai, hoping to lure the Jacksonville Jaguars or St. Louis Rams?

Caution! Slope is slippery! The NFL won't grant Canada a franchise, but somebody in Dubai will land one? The NFLPA will let players fly to Dubai to play games? Somebody will want the Jaguars? Highly unlikely. Dubious even.

And whatever happened to the football game?

Oh, that.

The game.

Alright, I wasn't in Sunday night so I didn't watch, was there a lot of stadium talk? It's a pretty cool place with a lot of unnecessarily cool shit, why not show it off?

I was delighted to see the Giants beat the Cowboys. Jerry's billion-dollar stadium couldn't make Tony Romo a more accurate passer or make Wade Phillips a good coach. Jerry's boys haven't won a playoff game since 1996. I guess you can build a stadium to end all stadiums, but it doesn't mean you know how to build a winning team.

Sample size: 2 games.

What's happened to this league? I grew up watching Hall of Famers such as John Unitas, John Mackey, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker and Gino Marchetti, and I didn't need to see them on a video board to enjoy it. When Unitas was marching the Baltimore Colts down the field to pull out another dramatic victory, I didn't care that I was sitting on cold, uncomfortable, aluminum bench-style seats at the austere Memorial Stadium. I loved the experience.

And teams would walk ten miles in the snow just to have the chance to fart on a picture of Marilyn Monroe's left arm! THAT'S WHEN FOOTBALL WAS A MAN'S SPORT! How dare technology ruin the comfort of watching the game... in high definition... from St. Louis... when the game is being played at night in Texas under lights. You know what would have made the experience better for the young Bernie Miklasz? Not freezing his clit off sitting on aluminum.

The game mattered. The players mattered. The competition mattered. That was my treasure. It wasn't about valet parking or leather chairs in luxury boxes. We didn't go to a football game demanding to be treated like VIPs sealed away behind a rope line where we'd discuss the quality of the brie, or praise the chef for his dish of braised short ribs.

I would dare say that many of the 100,000+ people there cared about the game. Cowboys fans - when not busy quoting Jimmy Johnson - tend to want their team to win.

A ham and cheese sandwich in a brown bag was perfectly fine.

Or 15 of them. And dont' worry about the bag actually, Bernie will just end up choking on it.

Those days are gone forever. Now there are too many consumers and climbers who can't tolerate the NFL experience unless they get to pretend to be Donald Trump for the day.

I can't go to a game unless I own real estate? I don't get it. I went to games each of the last three years and the most I spent was $200. I saved for a couple of months and sat right behind the Seahawks bench, first row. It was pretty fucking cool. Now I have to own apartment builds though, and that sucks.

Frankly, I'd rather watch on TV.

....oh, this is a good one. Just wait for it, it's great.

At least then the game — the competition — is pretty much at the forefront of the presentation.

That be the forefront presented by Visa. But first, here's a whole bunch of computer-generated lines and a robot that runs away from a Burger King! This and more, after retired players tell us what to watch even though it's all we'll be able to see on post game. And don't forget to watch the series premiere of Ratings Flop, a great comedy that will be canceled way to early because nobody gets it. I have had the fortune of seeing games from noon - 6:15 by virtue of sickness the last couple weeks, and believe me, there's a lot more at the forefront than the competition.

In this increasingly snobby and inaccessible NFL environment, we're told that the Edward Jones Dome is inadequate and outdated and a threat to the STL's future as an NFL city. The underlying threat is this: better build a new one and try to keep up with the Jerrys of the NFL world, or risk losing your franchise.

Believe you me - it's a giant shit pit. You can feel 1995 when you walk into the place. They spent $30 million to fix the video replay boards than didn't display the correct colors before and it's nowhere near enough. But the kicker is that the Rams have an escape clause in their contract if the Dome isn't in the top third of stadiums, the Rams get to leave. I guess it was nice to have a divisional opponent for the Seahawks to beat while it lasted...

The city, county and state — and taxpayers — made sacrifices to get the NFL to return to St. Louis. It was a nasty and costly fight, but we got the stadium and the franchise. That was fewer than 20 years ago. Who wants to go through that again?

So, you want them to leave?

Not that I want to see the Rams leave. I don't. But in the highly stressed financial climate, there's no discernible sentiment for investing public dollars for a new football stadium — or to publicly fund substantial upgrades for The Ed.

But a new opera house - that's what we need! If you watch this video, you'll see that having a neck and being able to be heard are not qualities you need to report news in St. Louis.

I don't know how this will eventually play out. The Rams are for sale. They probably will be free to leave after the 2014 season. The best hope, of course, is that a billionaire will step in and buy the franchise and build a stadium with (mostly) private money. But what are the chances of that happening?

About the same that a sultan gets an NFL team in Dubai?

In a few years, will St. Louis be capable of having a place in the NFL's insanely excessive Jerry World?

I can only think of one other billion dollar stadium being built, and two teams share that one. So I guess you could say it's only 2 $700 million stadiums being built into one. Like Voltron.

Do we want to have a place in Jerry World?

You do if you want a football team in St. Louis. I want one, but I don't think fans of the Rams do.


Adam said...

Billion dollar football stadiums are not a good idea in St. Louis but apparently $665 million baseball stadiums are.

Jack M said...

You scared everyone off with the word "hockey." That being said, the "Rating's Flop" bit was genius.