Rowley: Let ballparks get old

From SABR member Meg Rowley at Baseball Prospectus on May 26, 2016:

The Texas Rangers are getting a new ballpark. We’re used to thinking about the stadium question in terms of tax dollars, and it is an obviously smart way to approach it because of all the things tax dollars turn into that aren’t baseball. Tax dollars are schools and roads and recycling bins, and their allocation is a collective expression of what is important to us, or ought to be. It’s an exceptionally boring way of declaring that most of us like this thing more than this other thing, not merely as sports fans or consumers, but as citizens and parents and people. So when the Arlington City Council voted to approve a master plan for a new stadium for the Texas Rangers, they kicked off a process by which voters will decide if they like air conditioned baseball more than whatever else you can buy with $500 million. Like recycling bins or public transit or a comical number of two-foot-long hot dogs. We’re used to thinking of this question in that way, and it is a good way to think about it.

But tearing down 20-year-old stadiums so that we might replace them with slightly newer, shinier, slicker versions doesn’t just strike me as betrayal of our policy priorities; it is also a betrayal of place, and place is important in baseball. The experience of going to a particular place over and over again, within the context of sport, is part of how we develop meaning and memory and attachment. Mariners fans don’t just remember watching Felix’s perfect game– they remember watching it at Safeco. We get to know the quirks and choke points of our home parks. We know when we can sneak into better seats, and how the ball will slice down the line if the conditions are right, and when a flyball is actually something more dangerous. We develop routines. Sometimes we get to know our neighbors. We cheer with greater abandon, because this is our house. As Madness told us: Our house it has a crowd, there’s always something happening, and it’s usually quite loud, our mum she’s so house-proud, nothing ever slows her down, and a mess is not allowed.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 26, 2016. Last Updated: May 26, 2016.