Archive for the ‘D.C.’ Tag

Neighborhood Arts

At 410GoodBuddy an art show documents the changes in a Washington,D.C. neighborhood over 145 years.  Three artists who live in the Truxton Circle/East Shaw portion of the city have united to create a very good art show that features, maps and city plans, drawings and etchings, and a large installation piece.

Truxton Circle transitioned from a rural area with the first sets of housing developments in the beginning of the 1870s. Unlike the Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne mansions surrounding Logan Circle, developers built row houses for the working classes in this area west of North Capitol Street and south of Florida Avenue, the city’s northern boundary.

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One historian, an architect and a non-profit executive spent some of their spare time investigating where they lived. Their differing ways of visualizing the changes made the show very strong. They gained help in putting the show on through one of the area’s civic associations: the Bates Area Civic Association.

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The images feature maps of the neighborhood, drawings of current and former residents and the installation replicating the fountain that became a neighborhood landmark from the early 1900s through the 1940s. fountain

The opening drew a large crowd that enjoyed the variety of what they saw.

opening

There will be more to come with two neighborhood celebrations on upcoming weekends and artist talks.

Death of an Owner

When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball,  I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/arnold-a-heft-owner-of-horses-nba-team-dies-at-94/2014/03/26/fc810a4a-b501-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.

Sports Fans

I wrote The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball partly because I was amazed at the issue of fans and their support of the DC teams over the years.

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Even when the Bullets were good, the numbers of fans were not as great as you’d expect. And when the Wizards were bad, man, fans had it tough.

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I’m working on two papers that I’ll be giving at the Popular Culture Association in Chicago and the North American Society for Sports History in Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this year.

Crunched some figures about numbers of fans who are linked to certain sports teams on Facebook. I looked at cities in the US that have teams in the four major US professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). These cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. I divided the number of fans on Facebook into the population of the metropolitan areas from the 2010 Census to determine the percentage of the population showing fan interest for each team.

The results show that Washington has the lowest percentage of its population involved with its teams and Phoenix has the second lowest. Boston has the highest. The data appears below organized by sport.

By Sport: (ranked by percentage of population)

Baseball

Red Sox  4,185,683 (92%)
688,605

Yankees  6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
1,034,752

SF Giants  1,866,243 (43%)
544,563

Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
296,564

Detroit Tigers  1,404,184  (33%)
364,344

Texas Rangers  1,648,160 (26%)
345,642

White Sox  1,117,960 (23%)
166,165

Phillies  1,368,839 (23%)
792,530

Rockies  579,638 (23%)
110,404

Diamondbacks  371,803 (9%)
109,457

Mets  711,431 (7%)
222,596

Marlins  349,337 (6%)
102,530

Nationals  270,473 (5%)
154,611

Football (ranked by percentage of population)

Patriots  4,346,695 (95%)
777,350

Cowboys   5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
762,964

Broncos  2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
420,029

49ers  2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
562,706

Eagles  2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
414,192

Bears  3,062,435 (32%)
414,020

Giants  2,883,522 (29%)
538,485

Dolphins  1,496,534 (27%)
282,758

Lions  1,089,921  (25%)
304,469

Redskins  1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
271,865

Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
81,230

Jets  1,568,587  (16%)
618,924

Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)

Heat  9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
2,111,279

Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
1,333,231

Nuggets  1,252,113 (49%)
255,361

Mavericks  2,756,809 (43%)
378,697

Knicks  4,148,183 (42%)

Suns  1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
237,829

Warriors  929,247 (21%)
325,560

Pistons  714,206  (17%)
223,643

Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
366,964

Sixers  539,415 (9%)
264,650

Wizards  286,115 (5%)
195,223

Hockey:

Red Wings  1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
374,117

Bruins   1,516,883 (33%)
482,948

Avalanche  460,522 (18%)
148,098

Black Hawks  1,568,115 (17%)
480,212

Flyers  914,211 (15%)
300,810

Sharks  608,476 (14%)
185,226

Rangers  1,081,743 (11%)
279,517

Capitals  536,195 (10%)
198,594

Coyotes  148,657 (4%)
98,771

Stars  216,058 (3%)
137,717

Panthers  102,193 (2%)
93,960

Islanders  142,380 (1%)
101,573

 

 

 

 

Humane Society Adoption

At yesterday’s $12 adoption for 12 hours event I spent three hours portraying the mascot, Wags the Dog. My main job centered on standing out on New York Avenue, NE, in front of the animal shelter, waving to the cars. The truck drivers got a big kick out of it and always tooted their horns, like the did when we would ride past them in school buses.

Brett_asWags_n

 

I got to hug adorable dogs too. Some of the dogs did bark at me, as they weren’t sure if I was really one of their species or not!

DC United and Soccer Stadium

I appreciate this article but wonder about a few things. Could the city have gotten more for the Reeves Center with its prime location on U and 14 Streets? How will Metro handle the soccer crowds? They sometimes struggle with moving the Nationals fans after games. Cost overruns are common in development projects. How will the city and DC United handle the probable increased costs to building the stadium. Has the $300 million accounted for the cost of the land as well as the building?

To build a soccer stadium, DC will swap the Reeves Center

by Dan Malouff   •   July 25, 2013 9:40 am

DC has agreed to a preliminary deal to build a dedicated soccer stadium at Buzzard Point, and to redevelop the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW with a new mixed-use building.

 


Rendering of a Buzzard Point soccer stadium. Image from DC United.

Under the deal, the stadium would be located at the southern base of Potomac Avenue SW, just 4 blocks from Nationals Park. It would seat 20,000-25,000 people, and cost around $150 million to build. DC United would pay for construction, but the District would donate the land.

Development firm Akridge currently owns the land for the stadium. Instead of buying the land outright, DC would swap it for the Reeves Center. Akridge would then tear down and redevelop the Reeves Center, while United would build a stadium at Buzzard Point.

The deal must still be approved by the DC Council.

Is this a good idea?

Is Buzzard Point the right place for a stadium? Usually it’s not a great idea to put two large stadiums so close to each other, because when so much land is given over to sports, there’s not enough left over to build a functioning mixed-use neighborhood. That’s a major problem with Baltimore’s Camden Yards area, with the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, and with most multiple-stadium complexes.

But Buzzard Point may be different. Nationals Park has helped induce strong redevelopment east of South Capitol Street, and along M Street SE/SW, but the west side of South Capitol Street has lagged behind. The west side clearly functions as a different place, and a stadium there could help.

On the other hand, maybe the west side of South Capitol Street hasn’t redeveloped as much precisely because Nationals Park superblock is a barrier.

From a transportation perspective, Buzzard Point makes sense. Although it’s further from a Metro station than Nationals Park or RFK, it’s still within walking distance. And actually, a little bit of distance is a good thing, since it means soccer fans will pass by retail areas between the stadium and Metro, and that the most valuable land nearest the station can still be used for mixed-use development.

On top of the Metro connection, DC is planning for both the Georgia Avenue and Anacostia streetcar lines to terminate at Buzzard Point, directly adjacent to the proposed stadium site.

As for the Reeves Center, it cannot be redeveloped soon enough. A large city office building was a useful and necessary investment along U Street in the 1980s, when central DC was declining. But now the neighborhood is booming, the land is in high demand, and the Reeves Center is obsolete.

In a perfect world, I still think Poplar Point would have been a better location for a soccer stadium. But in the real world, Buzzard Point works. Since DC taxpayers won’t be on the hook to pay for construction, let’s do it.

Book Festival

George  Mason University holds a Fall For the Book Festival on the weekend of September 22nd-27th. This year, they are having a panel discussion on writing books about sports on Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 pm.

The event will take place at the George Mason Regional Library and my co-author Raphael Mazzone will read  from our book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball. My reading will come from my other sports book, Capital Sporting Grounds: A History of Stadium and Ballpark Construction in Washington, DC. The other panelist is sports author, Tom Dunkel, who’s book is Color Blind: The Forgotten Team that Broke Baseball’s Color Line.

Mark the readings on your calendar!

Lost DC Book Motivates Exploration of the City

A fun, quick read about all that has changed in my adopted city. It made me want to get on my bicycle and scout out the remnants of all these old buildings and facades.

This book is obviously the product of a good deal of research and investigation in a variety of source material. It is a great source for factual information and would have been even more valuable if the author had decided to add more analysis and comparisons with what happened in other cities in the US.

Compassion for Others?

With all the talk in Washington and in Wall Street about the need to cut Medicare, Medicare and Social Security, one has to wonder where is the concern fora nyone other than theirselves? The economic gains made during the last few years have gone disproportionately to these same people who want to cut the government’s benefits to others. The wealthiest 1% of Americans gained 125% of the growth. Which means the rest of the 99% got only 75% of that growth.

This is bad policy in an American economy that gets 70% of its growth from consumer spending. How do you spend when you’re unemployed, underemployed, or getting less even if you have a significant job! But ultimately, the key question to ask the one percent is: Where is the concern for others in general?

As many people know, the old days, (the 1950s through 1970s) when the company provided a pension for an employee are long gone. That was a big portion of the retirement nest egg and it was taken away from employees by companies that wanted to maximize profits so that their stock prices would go up. The stockholders would get wealthier on the back of the companies retired employees.

Columnist Harold Meyerson illuminates this point in the editorial below:

To the let’s-cut-entitlements crowd, what’s wrong with America is that seniors are living too high off the hog. With the cost of medical care still rising (though not as fast as it used to), the government is shelling out many more dollars per geezer (DPG) than it is per youngster (DPY). The solution, we’re told, is to bring down DPG so we can boost DPY.

We do indeed need to boost DPY. And we need to rein in medical costs by shifting away from the fee-for-service model of billing and paying. But as for changing the way we calculate cost-of-living adjustments for seniors to keep us from overpaying them — an idea beloved of Bowles, Simpson, Republicans and, apparently, the White House — this may not be such a hot idea, for one simple reason: An increasing number of seniors can’t afford to retire.

Nearly one in five Americans age 65 and over — 18.5 percent — were working in 2012, and that percentage has been rising steadily for nearly 30 years. In 1985, only 10.8 percent of Americans 65 and older were still on the job, and in 1995, that figure was 12.1 percent.

Both good news and bad news have contributed to this increase. The good news is that more seniors both can and want to work than in years past, as health care and medical science have extended their capabilities, and as the share of Americans in desk jobs has increased while the number on the factory floor has shrunk. A 2011 survey by the Society of Actuaries reported that 55 percent of working seniors said they had stayed employed because they wanted to stay active and involved. But the same survey showed that 51 percent were working because they needed the money.

What advocates for reducing Social Security adjustments fail to consider is that corporate America’s shift away from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution 401(k) plans — or to no retirement plans at all — has diminished seniors’ non-Social Security income and made the very idea of retirement a far more risky prospect. Today, more than half of U.S. workers have no workplace retirement plan. Of those who do, just 35 percent still have defined-benefit pensions. In 1975, 88 percent of workers with workplace retirement plans had defined-benefit pensions.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k)s is one of the main reasons most seniors aren’t able to set aside enough income to guarantee a secure retirement. A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k)s by households approaching retirement was $100,000 — not nearly enough to support those households through retirement years, as seniors’ life expectancy increases. And as most Americans’ wages continue to stagnate or decline, their ability to direct more of their income to 401(k)s diminishes even more.

With the eclipse of the defined-benefit pension, Social Security assumes an even greater role in the well-being of American seniors. But advocates of entitlement cuts don’t even discuss the waning of other forms of retirement security: Listening to Alan Simpson, you’d never know that America’s elderly aren’t getting the monthly pension checks their parents got.

And it’s not as if those employers are suffering. Just as U.S. businesses have been able to raise the share of corporate profits to a half-century high by reducing the share of their workers’ wages to a half-century low, so, too, their ability to reduce pension payments has contributed not just to their profits but also to the $1.7 trillion in cash on which they are currently sitting.

So here’s a modest plan to enable seniors to retire when they wish, rather than having to work into their 70s and even beyond: Require employers to put a small percentage of their revenue, and a small percentage of their workers’ wages, into a private, portable, defined-benefit pension plan. To offset the increased costs, transfer the costs of paying for workers’ health care from employers and employees to the government, and pay for the increased costs to the government with the kind of value-added tax that most European nations levy. (The tax burden is higher in Europe, but because the level of benefits is higher as well, the tax has wide public support.)

The odds of such a plan being enacted today, of course, are nil. (Then again, the odds of any bill getting through Congress these days are close to nil.) But until we compensate for, or reverse, the abdication of corporate America from any major role in providing its workers with retirement security, we should lay off monkeying with Social Security to reduce the program’s future payments. As for all those cash-drenched chief executives who proclaim that we must cut entitlements, how about they make up the difference by restoring the pensions their companies slashed?

NBA’s David Stern in DC

National Basketball Association’s Commissioner David Stern gave a discussion about the last 30 years of professional basketball on Thursday night at the Native American Museum in Washington, DC. Over 100 people showed up at the Smithsonian Associates event to hear him.

Panelists included the Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise, the Post’s Wizards’ beat writer Mike Lee and local and NBA lawyer Phil Hochberg. In addition, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, played a basketball superfan. The panelists asked Stern good questions. The Commissioner appeared very relaxed and in great spirits. He seemed to care a great deal about the game and its individual players. Most interesting, he supported the players in their efforts to announce their political perspectives and take part as citizens in the country.

In the final half hour, a number of fans got up to ask questions. Overwhelmingly, most of the questions were very good. They ranged from asking Stern questions about how size of market influences a team’s chance to win to asking him what rule change he thought made the greatest difference.

My co-author and I got the chance to hand out fliers for our book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball.

Tasty Big Meal

The Studio Theatre produced another strong play. Part of its Second Stage productions, the DC theater company unveiled The Big Meal by Dan LaFranc.

The play shows five generations of a single family in the Midwest U.S. of today. Showing characters in pairs, quartets and occasionally in larger groupings, the play provides strong and interesting characters. The actors are very strong playing a multitde of roles.

The play addresses the ups and downs of rather middling lives, highs of weddings and romance and lows of jealousy, sibling rivalry, and racism. None of this hits one over the head but instead flows naturally out of the characters. Younger versions adopt good and bad habits of their parents as they age, all the types of things that we each discover about our selves.