Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Local Sports

Earlier in June, I saw a celebration of good sportsmanship, athletics and academic achievements.

The Alexandria Sportsman Club met and awarded several baseball, track and soccer boys and girls for their ability to successfully balance these attributes.  Seeing their smiles as they posed with plaques for photographs made me feel happy.

Sportsman’s Club has been around since 1947 and believes in practicing civic virtues.

The group also invites guests to talk local sports. Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ third baseman and slugger and others have come to the monthly meetings and answered a wide range of questions.

I spoke about Capital Sporting Grounds and the issues of local governments playing for the construction of sports stadiums. Many people are fond of Nationals Park but the $650 million dollar cost is outstanding in bonds that are being very slowly paid off. Intriguingly, had the city been able to build the park only a few years later they would have gotten a better deal.

Target Field cost Minneapolis : $392 million from a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County, The Twins put up $152.4 million.

Cowboy Stadium cost  $325 million Bonds, approved by Arlington voters, being repaid by a half-cent sales tax$25 million Tarrant County $113 million  Private bonds, not city-funded, that will be repaid with a 10 percent ticket tax and $3 parking fee. Ownership of the team is likely to contribute $261 million.

As always, real estate is contingent on the market and how desperate the landowner is to have a tenet.

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Sports, The Beatles and History

Housing Complex

Inside the Washington Coliseum with Brett Abrams: If You Can Keep the Whole Building, Keep the Whole Building

Posted by Dave McKenna on Jun. 25, 2009 at 01:51 pm

Brett Abrams is happy. Abrams is a local historian and author of “Capital Sporting Grounds: A History of Stadium and Ballpark Construction in Washington, DC.” Today he’s leading me on a tour of the city’s sports facilities, built and unbuilt, still standing and long gone.

But for a bit of our time together, I get to play tour guide. I take Abrams, who loves old sports buildings as much as I do, over to 3rd and M Streets N.E., to my favorite structure in town, the Washington Coliseum. He knows about its history. But he didn’t know about its present.

So until today he’s never been inside.

“The greatest thing about this building is: It’s still here!” says Abrams, walking among the rows of parked SUVs with a huge smile (pictured above). “That’s really something.”

Here’s the link to the Beatles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BpmLGGpK7k

Yes it is. The Coliseum, built in the 1940s by local icemaker Migiel “Mike” Uline to host shows from touring entertainment troupes like Ringling Brothers circus and the Ice Capades, had been on death row for decades. Its useful life as a sports arena and major concert hall ended when Abe Pollin opened the Capital Centre in Largo in 1973, and in the years since it has been abandoned, hosted occasional Chuck Brown go-gos, used as a trash dump from 1994 to 2003, and, for the last several years, served as a pay parking lot.

There’s water damage all over the place from the years of inattention, and it’s dark as hell inside. But that’s nothing compared to the fact that you can drive or walk over the very floor where so many big, big things happened.

Rocky Marciano, the only heavyweight boxing champ ever to retire undefeated and stay retired, fought at the Coliseum. Red Aeurbach got his legendary pro basketball career started here, coaching the Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America, an NBA precursor, from 1946 to 1949. And, most famously, in February 1964, John, Paul, George and Ringo played their first US. show here on their way to taking over the world. A lot of seats from the arena’s heyday remain in the upper levels and corners.

For a building with such a great resume, there’s not much fanfare about the Coliseum. The most obvious sign that this ground is hallowed comes with a stenciled pair of brown beetles somebody painted outside the parking lot’s entrance a few years ago. Most folks in DC don’t even know the building still stands.

The coliseum is now owned by Doug Jemal, who is not only quite aware of his building’s past, but has also said many times that he keeps that past in mind whenever any plans to develop the property are proposed.

You can’t help but feel the history when you walk in the place.

“There’s the walkways!” Abrams says pointing upstairs. “Still here!”

For some folks, including me and Abrams, that’s, as he said, really something.

There is so much more to the old Uline Arena and several efforts are being made to save the place.

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NBA: Losing Big Money

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonis announced before his group made their bid to buy the Washington Wizards that the National Hockey League is in better financial shape than the National Basketball Association. I thought it was partly a negotiating ploy but also knew that the NBA was negotiating a new agreement with the players union in 2011.

Parade Magazine ran a story on the $400 million that owners in the NBA lost this year. Many tried ploys like inviting groups to perform at halftime and charging them and their supporters full price for the tickets in order to fill up empty arenas for a game.

Here’s the article link: Below are the six suggested improvements.

1. CHANGE THE FOUL-OUT RULES.
“Instead of ejecting a player after six foul,” says agent Steve Mountain, who represents Orlando’s Jameer Nelson, “assess a technical for fouls six and seven, and eject after eight. This would keep the best players in the game longer.”

Really, how often do the best stars foul out of games and usually not until the very end of the game. Seems like a lame fix that causes a loss in strategy.
2. INCREASE SCORING.
“Shorten the 24-second shot clock to 20 seconds to make for more possessions,” Falk says. “Or create a four-point play. People thought the three-point shot would destroy the game, but it added to it instead.”
Many people I know think the League lacks defensive effort from players as is. They like the NCAA games which have more intensity and less scoring.


3. RAISE THE AGE LIMIT.

“You should have to be out of high school for three years to play in the NBA,” Falk says. Playing college hoops would allow athletes to develop a fan base that they could carry with them into the pros.
Don’t buy this argument.
4. ENCOURAGE QUIRK.
“There’s a reason why Charles Barkley, who is retired, is still getting endorsements,” says Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim, who has covered the NBA for 13 years, “and, say, Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony aren’t. Today, the players with personality often have the color bleached out of them.” Blogger Bethlehem Shoals of FanHouse.com advises, “They should Twitter all the time. It could be a lifeline to these guys’ personalities.”

The NBA chose to market by personalities since the Magic Johnson Larry Bird era so they lost a lot of fan support for particular teams. Now they need to market the game also solely by personality. However, they need more personalities such as Le Bron James and less of the Gilbert Arenas (post gun scene) that do not have the same ability to play to mainstream US and international markets.
Many have told me that they do not like Kobe Bryant because he comes across as arrogant. This is certainly a problem that other sports have as well, such as the dislike of ARod by many. However, ARod’s personality can be encompassed by the larger Yankee team and Yankee fans will continue to support the team even with some individual players on it that they do not like. Can the same be said for NBA fans?
5. CHANGE THE TRADE RULES.
“Eliminate or significantly reduce rules that require salaries of traded players to match up,” Mountain says.

6. SHORTEN THE SEASON.
The NBA’s season comprises 82 games. Reducing the number of contests could make each one matter much more to players and fans alike. As Falk explains, “In pro football, there are only 16 games, so every game is critical.”

Would like to see this happen in Hockey and Baseball too but what are the odds, particularly if team owners are already losing money.

My Suggestions:

1. Reduce Ticket Prices

Who can afford the face value of tickets to a professional basketball game? The article talks about people who have lost their jobs, geez I still have my job and I don’t want to pay $150 for a mid-level ticket.

Reducing the cost will bring in more people and that can help build back their interest in both the sport and the team.

2. Change the Playoff TV Times:

Start the playoff games at hours when most people can stay up to watch the entire game. Cut down on the introductory talk (not a half hour) and limit the commercials so the games do not go three hours.

Changes coming in the next contract are going to make the game quite different. I imagine that many of the guarantee contracts are going to be bargained away and that will lead to more inspiration out of players and probably more despotic moves by owners.

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