Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Theater: Ragtime

Last night saw the restaging of Ragtime at the Kennedy Center. tjtsf_ragtime_138

 

The five-week production had amazing lighting effects. The other production values were also amazing, including a set of long and numerous steel railings creating the rampways that the cast of immigrants, African-Americans from Harlem and the Caucasians from New Rochelle paraded upon at various times throughout both acts.

 Christiane Noll as Mother and Jennlee Shallow as Sarah had strong, beautiful voices that led a strong cast. As Sarah’s friend Bryonha Parham sang the blazes out of  ‘Till We Reach That Day 

Two in our group had trouble picking up various lyrics at times, due to an overmiking according to one of them.

Another thought that they were not so convinced about Coalhouse Walker Jr.’s character because they believed the actor was too old for the role.

I found the immigrant story trying. Tateh reminds me of a character from John Dos Passos’ book USA, written in 1936.

Other thoughts include: from the Post

Advertisements

Baseball Family Owners

“I’m not quite mad as hell. And I can probably take it a little longer. However, my fuse is getting short when I think about the Lerners’ poor stewardship of the Nationals.” Washington Post sports columnist Tom Boswell’s exasperation would be familiar to legions of Washington’s baseball fans.

Most authors and scholars have placed the poor familial leadership of the baseball teams in Washington at the feet of Clark and Calvin Griffith, who owned the Washington Senators from the end of World War I until 1960. The pair are also the figures that the public remembers. However, the city has a long, rich experience with questionable family owners of their professional teams.

Robert C. Hewett assumed the presidency of a team in an upstart third league, the Union Association (UA) in 1884. A member of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Red Men, Robert Hewett ran a feed business on Seventh Street, NW. He ran away at fourteen with “but three nights’ schooling, on two of which the teacher was absent and the other the candle went out,” under his belt. After making his fortune selling grain during the Civil War, Hewett bought real estate and became a landlord.

Hewett had previous involvement with baseball teams in the District. He served as president for one of the city’s earliest professional teams. During that time he met the man who managed his UA team, Michael B. Scanlon. Irish-born, Scanlon settled in New York at age 11 and served with the union army for three years from 1863. He settled in Washington and began managing Washington’s semi-pro club, the Nationals in 1868 and assembled one of the most famous teams in the country. He started a pool hall business during the off season.

The Union Association Nationals rented the area where the U.S. Senate Parking Garage exists today. The owners filled in the “Capital Grounds” and erected a grandstand along C Street, NE at New Jersey Avenue that sat 3,500 people. The UA organizer Henry Lucas stacked his team with the best players. Lucas also manipulated the schedule to ensure that his St. Louis team started the season with a long winning streak. Without a pennant race attendance for the UA lagged. Hewett withdrew the Nationals from the league after receiving far less that their share of the gate receipts after games in St. Louis and Cincinnati.

The next year Hewett found himself running a team again in the minor leagues. Hewett brought the only child from his first marriage, Walter, into team management. The team improved the stadium, adding covered seating. In addition, they reoriented home plate to increase the distance from the left field fence so balls hit over it became home runs rather than ground rule singles.

Midseason, the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company sold left field for $7,000. The purchaser, a Baltimore capitalist, planned to erect fine homes on these lots at First and B Streets, NE and the team was out of luck. Summing up the feelings of team leadership, Scanlon asserted, “The Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company should assist us by allowing us to remain at Capitol Park… In every other large city [a street railroad company] has fitted up grounds and encouraged their maintenance with the most substantial backing.”

The team did not receive any help. The streetcar companies in other cities helped because the location of the team’s stadium led to increased numbers of riders for them. The location did not serve that purpose in Washington. The park sat on the edge of the central part of the local city where the expansion of housing would occur next. Nearly all the powerful figures in the local city supported this growth. According to these officials, that a team had its stadium sold in the middle of the season was simply too bad for the team. However, it showed very graphically the limited cache and importance of sport at that time in U.S. culture.

After contemplating contraction, National League (NL) leadership invited Indianapolis and Washington to form teams and join the league. Hewett and Scanlon needed funds for the security deposit that the NL required, for the salaries for the players and for the cost of a stadium. The Nationals’ officers issued 40 shares of stock at $500 each for capital and incorporated as the Washington National Base Ball Club “to develop and maintain a proper appreciation of athletic and other manly sports and amusements…”

 

The team executed a five-year lease on grounds bordering North Capitol Street, F and G streets, NE (across North Capitol Street from the Government Printing Office). Their recent experience prompted them to negotiate for an option to buy the property before the owners sold it to anyone else. Newspapers glowing described the new park and its 7,500 person capacity. “It is large enough to accommodate the biggest crowds… is easily reached by cars, herdics or on foot and is surrounded by interesting objects, such as the dome of the Capitol, the smoke-stack of a factory on the left, a row of elegant dwellings on the right and such magnificent structures as the Pension office and the District buildings looming up on the horizon.”

Baseball’s fan base consisted of men in the working and middle classes so Robert Hewett believed the location would enable the team to be a success. Hewett made the financial decisions. Michael Scanlon, like other managers of the day, made the personnel decisions and the traveling arrangements. Despite the beautiful surroundings, the team finished in last place in the National League.

Near the end of the first season, the National’s management announced a loss of $10,000. Since this was their initial season, the team spent $18,000 on a series of one-time expenses, including $11,000 to purchase the release of players from other teams and $7,000 on grounds at Capital Park. Michael Scanlon informed the press that things appeared much rosier for the next season. They expected to spend $28,000 on salaries and $7,000 on travel and hotels for total of $35,000 in expenses for 1887 season. If the team earned the same amount as during the 1886 season, $45,000, they would make $10,000 profit.

As the photograph of the stadium showed, the team used the stadium itself to raise revenue. The team offered space on the fences around part of the outfield to local advertisers. These included a steam laundry on the western border of Swampoodle, a feed and hay store and a local food merchant. Other advertisers presumably appealed to the fan base included a local bottling company, and two sporting goods vendors. The most intriguing advertising sign featured an elixir named Mist. The sign carried their claim that Mist was good for the blood.7

The situation must have looked better in the near future. At season’s end, the team If theynIfTreasurer Charles White and two other Board members sued the Club for the one-fortieth share of stock they never received at the beginning of the season. Robert Hewett and Scanlon argued successfully in court that the club incorporated in 1886, being different from the 1885 club, did not recognize investment in the former organization. The new team ownership reelected Robert C. Hewett President and voted Walter F. Hewett the team’s Secretary and Treasurer.

The players received similar questionable treatment from the elder Hewett. Outfielder Cliff Carroll refused to sign a contract for the 1887. He believed club management wronged him with a $100 fine for a slight offense. President Hewett agreed with Carroll and promised that he would remit the $100 if Carroll signed the contract. When Carroll went to the bank to cash the check, he discovered Hewett placed a stop payment on the check. The player took his case to the Base Ball Players Union and a committee went to the annual meeting to inquire into the matter. Several owners went to Hewett and told him he had acted wrongly and suggested that he settle this problem before the Union brought the case up at the League meeting. President Hewett did.

Before the start of the second season the elder Hewett maintained he was unfamiliar with all the details connected with the game which led to some ill-judged actions. He announced to potential local buyers that “[The club] can be obtained at any time by returning the plant to its promoters and assuming its liabilities.” Whether the result of the recent treatment from his fellow owners or not, Hewett suddenly wanted out of baseball. “The club has made a hard struggle, but has been anything but a paying enterprise,” he stated. The Hewetts retained control of the team.8

The Nationals moved up one spot to seventh place at season’s end. One fan asserted that the team lost because their players were out-classed in the League. The reporter covering the team for the sports journal, Sporting Life agreed, noting ”The club is resting upon its oars watching the great grab game that is going on for young players … I can not understand for no club in the League has demonstrated its weakness more forcibly that the Washington Club.” Another reporter noted that the board of directors met but conducted no business. “If the press can arouse the directorate they will be doing a charitable act.”

The reporters expressed a legitimate complaint. The team’s best hitter, Paul Hines, announced he did not want to return to Washington. The management could not keep him. The Board did little regarding improving the team. The Board did vote Luther E. Burket the team’s Secretary and Treasurer as Walter Hewett increasingly acted in his father’s position.

Later that month team officials astonished the baseball world. A report leaked that the team management made an offer to the St. Louis team’s management of $12,000 in exchange for the rights to first baseman and manager Charlie Comiskey. The correspondent for the Sporting News informed fans, “It is plain to see that President Hewett is fully determined to strengthen his team to the utmost and in doing so money will be no object. Every one who is acquainted with Mr. Hewett knows that if he makes up his mind to do anything, that he will do it.”

The correspondent proved wrong. The only successful transaction during the off-season hurt the team. Management traded the .300 hitter Hines in exchange for an outfielder who would have only three at-bats with the team. Walter Hewett defended management’s choices for the team in early 1888 in the Washington press. Whether he convinced them of anything was unclear. However, National League officials considered Washington an experimental combination whose future remains uncertain.

The team management did eventually meet again before the start of the 1888 season. Like many of today’s teams they immediately moved to enhance their personal earnings from the team. Before the start of the season, the directors met at the Hewett’s feed store and promptly voted to raise season ticket prices by 50% to $30 for grandstand seats. Despite not improving their product the team management felt emboldened to charge more to see the games. The fans responded as few purchased these tickets. They still had to pay more to see the games as the League’s officials mandated that all teams boost bleacher ticket prices from 35 to 50 cents. Matters grew worse when the Sporting Life reporter wrote at the beginning of the season that the owners have not yet full confidence in the capacity of their team.9

The players might have felt similarly about the team’s management. With Walter Hewett taking the reigns as field manager, the team won 10 and lost 29. When the Detroit team visited Grover Cleveland at the White House in late June of 1888, the President commented on the poor showing of the Washington team. The Hewetts hired Ted Sullivan as manager and the team improved slightly.

Events in team management turned for the worse. In mid-summer, the sixty-one year old Robert left with his wife and daughter Laura on a convalescence trip to Vermont. Rumors flew about the team’s financial status and the possibility of a sale. Walter turned greater attention to the feed and flour stores. As the Nationals climbed to seventh place in late August, Walter Hewett assured the League that the team was comfortable financially. However, the rumors of a sale gained credence when Robert C. Hewett returned to Washington and died days later.

Robert Hewett left his eldest son in an excellent position from which to run the team. Walter held the majority of the stock and the premiere executive position, team president. He had the significant personal wealth from the $20,000 gift. Walter also had control of his regular income as the owner of the family’s feed store. His position as one of the city’s premiere grain dealers enabled Walter to be voted the Vice President of the Washington Grain Exchange in 1890. Walter expanded into the building supplies business but lost control of the business in 1895. A local member of Democratic Party organizations, Hewett would serve on one of the committees required to run the inaugural festivities for Grover Cleveland when he won the Presidency in the election of 1892.10

The Eldest Son Takes The Helm

The beat reporter for Sporting Life believed that the team’s future hinged on Walter’s actions. “[However] he prefers to devote his active attention to the flour and feed business. The life of a base ball magnate is not congenial to him.” Did this attitude emerge before or after he managed the team? Walter Hewett demonstrated his limited baseball acumen when at season’s end he did not act to secure any of the best players from the bankrupt Detroit team despite Washington’s obvious weaknesses. He sold two pitchers and an infielder for $4,200 to the Columbus minor league team. Instead, Hewett sought a star and aimed at acquiring the New York Giants’ shortstop John Ward. He offered the future Hall-of-Famer a contract for $5,000, the largest amount ever offered to a player. Ward asked for $6,000 and when Hewett refused Ward opted to stay in New York for less than the $5,000 salary.

The son’s organizational infighting skills appeared sharper than his baseball sense. Installed as team President, Walter leaked to the press that the club owed his late father’s estate $23,000. He promptly informed team stockholders that they owned $500 per share held. This heavy assessment created dissatisfaction among board members and caused several small shareholders to want out of the business. Several took Hewett’s buyout offer but some wanted more money and their proportional share of the valuation of the Capital Park lease. Hewett refused his fellow Board members while continuing to put his stamp on the team.

The young magnate also alienated other owners. They accused him of trying to pry players from every major and most of the minor league teams. Perhaps the older owners used this against him because of the Nationals owner’s poor choices. Walter spent $5,000 to acquire second baseman Sam Wise from the Phillies; his .250 batting average for his new team hardly warranted the purchase price.

Hewett purchased shortstop and new manager John Morrill from the Boston team for $6,000. The local sportswriters expressed pleasure with the deal, describing Morrill’s handsome presence and the expectation that he will guide his fellow players well. In his fourteenth major league season, Morrill met no one’s positive expectations, as he hit for a .185 average and led the team into last place with over twice the number of losses as wins. He became such a defensive liability that he transferred himself from third to first base.

Hewett gave up on Morrill in early June and purchased Arthur Irwin from the Philadelphia Quakers for $3,000 in early June and installed him as the manager. Irwin batted .233 for the Nationals but sparked the team to a 22-10 record, prompting the observation from the local press that “The Washingtons are playing great ball now.”11

The team’s turnaround in the dog days of summer went for naught. Walter Hewett sold the option and the lease which the Washington Baseball Club held on the 322,000 feet of ground that constituted Capitol Park. Chester A. Snow, a well-known patent attorney, purchased the lot at an estimated price of 70 cents a foot. Snow would not disclose what he intended to do with the grounds. The team management auctioned off the ground stands, fencing and other materials.

Hewett announced that he expected to secure grounds more convenient to the Nationals’ downtown patrons. Washington fans and the newspaper reporters noted that Hewett would struggle to find a new location. Very few open lots of the necessary size for a stadium existed in the core of the local city. Those areas the federal government reserve for its use could not be used for a stadium. The remaining spaces contained residences that made the surrounding empty grounds too small to use for the ball park.

The team finished the season poorly after the sale of their home field. During the off season, Hewett met with three well-known Washingtonians and the trio and Walter forged a syndicate. The members each agreed to advance half of the cost necessary to build a ball park and to place the baseball team on a first-class basis. Hewett left the city to attend the NL’s winter meetings and nothing more occurred with the syndicate.

The National League owners had tremendous worries as a new league emerged to create serious competition for attendance. Many baseball players left their teams in both the NL and AA to join the new eight team combine established by for the 1890 season, known as the Players’ League. Hewett’s Nationals had lost many of the best members to the Players’ League teams in Philadelphia and Buffalo. League officials used legal threats to undercut their new competitors and considered eliminating the weaker teams in their own league to improve the financial circumstances.

In January, Walter Hewett developed his own response to the three baseball league crisis. He announced that the Baltimore ownership would purchase his franchise for $25,000. The newly-combined team would share home dates between the two cities. Two weeks later the deal vanished. National League officials expressed their concern about the team’s status. President Nick Young worried about Walter’s confusing, dilatory tactics and requested definite actions toward finding a stadium in Washington. By early March 1890, team management still failed to secure grounds.

The season loomed and the National League published a schedule for the new ten team league. With the rise of the Player’s League, the owners in the National League wanted to contract the business. They believed that a streamlined League would help them defeat the Players League. The owners worked frantically in the backrooms of the League’s offices to whittle membership down. Within a week, Washington and Indianapolis each accepted $20,000 to leave the League.

Through a focus on making money, ill consideration of the team fans, and public relations, and poor personnel management, the Hewetts sets a standard that other DC family team owners have continued for years.

 

Taxpayers, Stadiums and Political Privilege

Nationals Park
Image by Kevin H. via Flickr

Free tickets are to politicians as blood is to vampires. When not being used by the pols themselves, tickets are the means by which they reward, make up to, gain acceptance from and win favor with people they want or need politically. The recipient may be a donor, a voter or a voter’s child. No matter. Tickets, suites, parking passes, etc., grease the passage to a target’s heart — or wallet. Sucking up to constituents knows no bounds.

The Washington Post columnist Colbert King makes a key point about the food fight between Mayor Adrien Fenty and the Washington DC City Council over the baseball suite tickets.

What of the ironies here.

First, they are fighting over perks that the taxpayers footed the bill for! Nationals Park cost the city at least $650 million and who knows how much in sundry other expenses. Residents paid for that and the politicians that are representatives of those taxpayers are fighting over the expectation that they ought to have free tickets to a luxury suite without much consideration that most of their constituents will not be able to afford to see the inside of the stadium even from the less expansive bleacher seating.

Second, the fight over tickets is going on while the stadium remains no more than one-third filled most of the time. The cost of individual tickets certainly plays a major role in keeping residents and visitors to the nation’s capital from going to the games.

The empty stadium phenomenon is becoming a major issue in Yankee Stadium and Citifield. The cost of the prime tickets results in rows of empty seats being broadcast along with the key action in the games. Meanwhile, the filled seats are in the outfield portions where ticket prices are somewhat accessible to the interested fans who used to fill up the better seating in the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Politicians and Luxury Sports Boxes

First New York, now Washington, DC.

Both cities paid a millions of taxpayer dollars to construct stadiums. In the contracts, free suites for city politicians.

In New York, the uproar from the people and some politicians forced Mayor Bloomberg, after his administration zealously toiled to get the Yankess Stadium suite, to give it up for cash.

The Mayor and City Council each get a suite at the Nationals Stadium in DC. Mayor Adrian Fenty happened to keep both sets of tickets. The City Council complained and requested that the team reprint the tickets and send them directly to the CouncilChair. 

One Council member chose a more honorable method to the ticket debacle. Sell them and put the money to the use of the less fortunate in the city. Kwame Brown’s proposed legislation has the support of three other members, forming a formidable bloc of one-third of the votes.

Hearst Davies Home in Santa Monica

One of the adulterous couples in my Hollywood Bohemians book.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-beach-house19-2009apr19,0,793374.story

Well, the property, not the house, which is sadly long gone.

Website has images

The compound where magnate William Randolph Hearst lived in grand style with mistress Marion Davies is being reopened as the Annenberg Community Beach House. Oh, if only the sand and sea could talk.
By Martha Groves
April 19, 2009
With its stately colonnade and sweeping staircases, the three-story U-shaped beach mansion in Santa Monica exuded grandeur.

Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst lived there in grand style with his mistress, silent-film star Marion Davies, and in the 1920s and ’30s they entertained such bright lights as Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Gloria Swanson.

On Saturday, where entertainment royalty cavorted during Hollywood’s Golden Age, commoners are expected to turn out in force for the opening of a new public beach facility featuring volleyball courts, rooms for community and private events, a playground and the same elaborately tiled swimming pool where Davies splashed with Charlie Chaplin.

Years in the planning, the Annenberg Community Beach House fulfills a dream to turn a historic but long-derelict property into a public showplace.

“I remember having great days as a girl at the beach when it was the Sand & Sea Club,” said Wallis Annenberg, the TV Guide heiress and philanthropist whose Annenberg Foundation provided $27.5 million of the nearly $35-million cost to build and furnish the attraction. “I’m delighted that families from all walks of life will be able to enjoy our beautiful coast and make their own fond memories.”

If only the sand and sea could talk.

In 1926, the married Hearst assembled 15 beach lots to create a compound for his beloved Davies, whom he had met 11 years earlier when she was a chorus girl on Broadway. With Hearst as cheerleader, she joined the Ziegfeld Follies and then began starring in silent movies.

In 1928, they moved into their Georgian Revival main house, designed by a Hollywood art director and production designer named William Flannery, at what is now 415 Pacific Coast Highway. It was the largest of the Gold Coast beach houses, with 18 Grecian columns stretching across the back. The interior featured huge Oriental rugs, Tiffany chandeliers, 37 fireplaces and separate bedroom suites, connected by a hidden door, for Davies and Hearst.

Four other houses were occupied by Davies’ family, long-term guests and more than 30 full-time servants. All told, the complex included 110 bedrooms and 55 bathrooms.

In 1945, after 17 years of memorable merrymaking, Davies became embroiled in a property tax dispute and sold the compound to investors for $600,000.

Hearst died in 1951 and Davies a decade later. By then, the property had gone through many iterations. At one point, a hotelier added three buildings. In April 1957, pieces of the main house — shingles, columns, interior fixtures — were put up for sale. Soon after, the house was demolished.

The state bought the land in 1959 and leased it to the city of Santa Monica, which in turn leased it to the private Sand & Sea Club (where Annenberg was a member) from 1960 to 1990.

During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a brick chimney crashed through the roof of the northernmost house, known as the Guest House, the sole remaining structure from the Davies era.

Restoring the heavily damaged pool tiles and rehabilitating that mothballed house, national landmarks designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, were just two of the tasks facing Frederick Fisher & Partners, the Los Angeles architects.

“A strong idea came to me early on, to create a ghost of a mansion,” Fisher said. In front of the pool he placed a colonnade of 16 white concrete columns to stand in, as it were, for the house.

Behind them is the Pool House, with changing rooms, bathrooms and built-in cabana areas lined with wood stained in muted colors found in the pool tiles. On the second floor is a glass-enclosed event room (for yoga classes, among other activities) and an open terrace overlooking the pool. Next door is the Event House, with public meeting rooms and space for art exhibitions.

Midway along the existing boardwalk, a new walkway runs perpendicularly across the wide beach to near the water line. The Guest House, set within gardens and terraces, will offer interactive exhibits about Davies, Hearst and Hollywood, with a soundtrack of laughter and tinkling champagne glasses.

Fisher said the project was especially meaningful to him because he spent time at a community beach while growing up in Cleveland. When fire destroyed the wooden beach club, his father, an architect, designed the replacement.

At the public unveiling on Saturday, Cirque du Soleil performers will inaugurate the pool with a “First Splash.” Families will be invited to fly kites, take volleyball lessons and watch sand sculptors. No parking will be allowed that day at the site, but a free shuttle will carry visitors from the Santa Monica Civic Center. A bicycle valet and bike rentals will be available.

Once the facility opens for business next Sunday, access to the beach and most of the facility will be free. Beginning in May, a pool day pass will cost $10 for adults, $4 for children and $5 for visitors 65 or older. A family pass for two adults and two children will be $24.

Davies would have been delighted to see the property put to such use, said Kay Pattison, a Santa Monica Conservancy member who has volunteered as a docent at the beach house.

“We’re going to bring her out of the shadows,” Pattison said, “and put her back in the sunshine on the beach where she belongs.”

Columbia University at Nationals Park

The Columbia University Alumni Association toured Nationals Park this afternoon. The group watched batting practice, went to the media room, and indoor batting cages, and examined the high end dining areas.

All 150 or more gathered in a conference room and waited for fellow alumna Stan Kasten to arrive for his talk. After an introduction from Lou, Kasten told several  highly entertaining stories about his first meeting with Ted Turner. He discussed his success with the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the years he had as President of the Atlanta Braves.

Kasten observed that he expected the same kind of success with the Nationals. He stated that he expected the success to arrive sooner than many people expected and explained that the rotation would be solidifying soon and that they have built a team for the long haul.

I presented Kasten with a copy of my book, Capital Sporting Grounds: A History of Stadium and Ballpark Construction in Washington, DC.

Television’s Grey Gardens

A group of us saw the premiere of HBO’s drama Grey Gardens last night. Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore were both excellent as Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  The rest of the cast was very good as well.

actress

Lange’s voice was too weak for Big Edie according to one of our crew. Albert and David Maysles’ documentary gave the impression that she had a more operatic voice. The Broadway musical and the production at Studio Theater in Washington, DC also gave that impression.

The drama and the musical featured widely different scenes. The romance with Joe Kennedy Jr. featured in the first act of the musical is dispelled in the drama. The drama adds an affair with a married man in New York that the musical elides. They both create differing impressions of secondary characters. The drama includes Big Edie’s husband, a character not in the musical, while the musical features Big Edie’s father, while the drama does not.

Three of us wondered whether we have had enough of these two characters. One wondered whether they learned anything new while another thought the characters were repeating lines that they had heard many times before.

City Planning

nw_aerial_11x17-2Here’s a cautionary tale for Minneapolis, Oakland, San Francisco, Miami and all the other cities that believe that building a ball park will create a burgeoning, bustling new area on the urban landscape.

True, the recession does not help spur any development.

True, it takes time to allow for an area to grow.

However, the growth and development could have happened in many other parts of Washington, DC. The drive was to change the southeast Navy Yard area from a nightclub district to a family neighborhood and the stadium served as the leverage to make that happen.

Politicians Defy Team Owner

Here’s a change, politicians vote no on spending for sports.

The Prince Georges’ County Council voted against the legislation that would authorize the state to study construction of a professional soccer stadium.

One interpretation is that the politicians are getting wiser to the argument that stadiums and even developmental projects, like this one, can generate enough revenue to pay for themselves.

Public projects have generally not paid for themselves. RFK Stadium did not even make a down payment on the construction principle.

Both Virginia and Maryland have histories of citizens launching successful oppositions to stadiums. It appears that many people living in the area did not welcome the addition of a stadium to their neighborhood. The County Council might have noticed this opposition and did not want the battle.

What do you think is behind the vote?

What is the United ownership going to do?

Architecture African American Museum

The architecture critic for the Washington Post weighed in this morning on the models for the possible African American Museum in Washington, DC.

While he shares some of the opinions of the group of us that went two weeks ago, he advocates for the building of one version that pleased few of us.

he makes an interesting argument against the Norman Foster building for the style of the presentation of the museum, calling it too  thematic.