Archive for the ‘stadiums’ Tag

Historic Arena Saved

The DC Preservation League celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US concert while enjoying the years of hard work they put in to save Uline Arena and the Washington Coliseum from being torn down.

Here’s the video telling the story:

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District Development

A new proposal for the development of a historic treasure of the city is receiving a lot of attention recently. Uline Arena, built in 1941, has long been in poor condition, you can still see the bleachers in areas along with the broken glass and old press box and concession stand.

Uline was one of the first places in DC to become desegregated along a long fight by national and local community groups in 1948. It hosted some great boxing and wrestling matches and was the home of Washington’s first NBA team during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It hosted the city’s only American Basketball Association team during 1969-1970.

A new article on the development appears below:

Uline Arena, get ready for your next phase

RACHEL KAUFMAN | TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013
1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500

1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500

2008

COURTESY JOSH HOWELL
Uline Arena is making a comeback.Douglas Development, known in the Washington region for buying and holding onto properties for years, a few months ago began selective demolition at the site in preparation to turn the fabled arena, now a parking lot, into a 200,000-square-foot mixed-use property.

And fabled it was. It was built by ice supplier Miguel Uline to capitalize on the popularity of skating rinks in the 1940s, says historian Brett Abrams, author of “Capital Sporting Grounds: A History of Stadium and Ballpark Construction in Washington, DC.” But it also hosted the Beatles’ first U.S. concert ever, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, served as home court for the Washington Capitols, led by legendary coach Red Auerbach (and the team that drafted Earl Lloyd, the first African-American basketball player).

Pro boxers fought in the arena, some of the only events African-Americans were allowed to attend in the early years of the stadium. “Uline said, ‘Why should I be the pioneer? I’m a businessman,'” Abrams says. Eventually, after intense protests from the African-American community, the arena was integrated.

In the 70s, the arena hosted roller derby. In the ’80s, go-go bands rocked the house.

In the ’90s, it became a trash transfer station. Now, it’s a parking lot—ironic, Abrams says, because a 1970’s basketball team failed when it couldn’t attract crowds, partially due to a lack of parking.

That was the end of the arena’s legacy. But for a while, “It was Washington’s location,” Abrams says. “It allowed Washington entry into professional sports.”

In 2011, the coliseum became the venue for a theatre production called Swampoodle!, by contemporary Irish arts companies Solas Nua (based here) and The Performance Corporation (based outside Dublin). The play’s short run arguably did more to catapult the Uline Arena back into modern D.C.’s consciousness than much else.

It also exposed Washingtonians to a building many didn’t even realize was still standing. Swampoodle! actor Jason McCool perhaps said it best  on the play’s blog: “I believe the first three words I spoke in the place, even after having spent a week studying it, were ‘No. Effing. Way.’ (Seriously, folks, you have never been in a building like this. It’s like being in the Titanic without the danger of drowning.)”

Union Station, less than a mile away, reopened in 1988, and the NoMa metro station opened in 2004. The rapid development in the area has brought thousands of new residents and a stunning appreciation in property values for those lucky enough to have owned buildings.

Douglas Development has owned Uline since 2003, when city records show the company paid $6,000,000 for it. Representatives from the company did not return repeated requests to comment by press time, but according to the developer’s website, current plans call for the building to be renamed “The Coliseum” and include over 50,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of office space. There will be a 175-car parking garage. And the building will keep its iconic shape.

For historian Abrams, that’s enough. “I like the proposal,” he says. “It keeps some of the–if not literally the same material, it keeps some of the resonance of it.”

Below: see our photo gallery of Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum’s past, present, and future.
1941: Architect’s sketch of Uline Arena

1948: Picket signs protesting the segregation at Uline
1964: The Beatles play the arena just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. This ticket sold by Heritage Auctions in 2011 for $1500
20082011: Solas Nua and The Performance Corporation put on Swampoodle! in the arenaPresent day: seen better daysFuture: The Coliseum will become offices and retail
Future: The Coliseum references the famed Beatles concert
Do you remember Uline in its glory days? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credits, in order: DCPL, Washingtoniana Division; Henderson Family Collection;Heritage Auctions; Josh Howell;Solas Nua; Jennifer Reid; Jennifer Reid; Douglas Development/Antunovich Associates; Douglas Development/Antunovich Associates.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is a tech, business and science journalist passionate about her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. She lives in Brookland.

 

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.

Overpriced Seats at Stadiums

For years many of us have wondered, who could afford to buy the best seats at the new stadiums. Yes, corporations can buy some, but they usually like the suites in the middle tier of the stadium or arena. Some celebrities and wealthy buy court seats or sit behind the dugouts, but they make up a small number of the population. There are many seats that are empty and everyone can see this on television.

Here’s an article that challenges announcers to mention this fact:

We must be seeing things. Rather, we must not be seeing things.

The public used to rely on the media to fight for it, to go to bat for the bat-less. Not so much anymore. Most in the news take their corporate orders — real, tacit and imagined — or make themselves available to be bought and sold to multiple masters, restricting what they would otherwise report.

Thus, ugly, smack-you-in-the-senses realities go ignored. Worse, on TV, we’re often told to ignore what we see and instead believe what we’re told.

While we understand that local broadcasters are frightened to tell certain here-and-now truths about the teams that employ them, MLB’s national networks have no such restrictions.

SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

GETTY IMAGES
SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

Heck, for the billions paid to MLB in rights, ESPN, Fox and TBS should insist that their announcers speak all truths. What’s MLB going to do about it, not cash their checks? Forbid them from bidding next time?

In other words, ESPN, Fox and TBS might have — could have and should have — spent the last four seasons hammering a point so embarrassing to MLB that it might have shamed teams and Bud Selig to exact greater-good changes.

Specifically, the best seats in new parks — those most often in view throughout telecasts — are so over-priced that they’re going empty, greed-wasted. After all, these are ballparks where ballgames of pre-undetermined value are played; they’re not destination resorts.

Over the weekend, the Mets played the Marlins in Miami’s new, climate-controlled stadium. The Marlins were returning from an 8-1 road trip.

Yet, clearly visible during Friday night’s telecast on SNY and throughout Fox’s on Saturday afternoon, many of the best seats — hundreds, if not thousands, behind the backstop and along the infield lines — went unoccupied.

On Fox, not only didn’t play-by-player Rich Waltz and analyst Tim McCarver seem to notice, they seemed to think that we didn’t either. In fact, they seemed to see people where we saw none.

“Another big crowd here, on a Saturday afternoon” said Waltz, after applauding the new park.

“They built it here in Miami,” said McCarver, “and they have come.”

The biggest big ticket for Marlins home games is $250, dirt cheap by Yankee Stadium standards, yet still illogically expensive to watch any baseball game. The family of four, with eats, drinks, travel and parking, is reaching for over $1,000 to attend a game.

No thanks, they’ll sit upstairs, or at least outside the Yankee Stadium-type moat that separates and designates — a financial caste seating system. Above and beyond such seats is where crowds now begin to gather.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_sports/sitting_bull_7rhr6FExiZXV9aXBSd3zcM#ixzz1vE1uvrNO

Navy Again Bests Army

The Naval Academy won the big game of the year defeating the Army yesterday afternoon.

Navy won a down to the wire game 27-21 at Fed Ex Field, in suburban Maryland.

Different takes include this complaint by fans of New England Patriots who play the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field today. The White House offers this one as President Obama attended the game.

Washington, D.C. is the biggest winner. The city has tried for over 1oo years to get the Army-Navy game played in its area and failed. Back in the early 1900s they offered to build a stadium in Potomac Park.

The one hundred years of effort is in the book, Capital Sporting Grounds.

Potomac Park Army Navy Stadium

Unbuilt Architecture

The National Building Museum has an upcoming show called Unbuilt Washington. The exhibition will feature large and small-scale buildings of all kinds that were planned but never erected.

Imagine that you are traveling into Washington, D.C., from northern Virginia. As you approach the Potomac River, you see the tall, craggy, medieval-looking towers of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Bridge looming in the foreground, largely blocking the view of the National Mall beyond. As you reach the end of the bridge, now you can clearly see the enormous pyramid that was built to honor Abraham Lincoln. Going around to the side of the pyramid, you note the odd, pagoda-like structure dedicated to George Washington—a design that was executed after the original obelisk had stood unfinished for decades. Surrounding these monuments are informal paths that meander through dense woods, which help to filter the noise from the two elevated highways running along either side of the Mall. Barely visible in the distance is the Capitol, a dignified but modest structure that looks rather like a classroom building at a liberal arts college, topped by a tiny cupola.

Proposal

John Russell Pope, Proposal for Lincoln Memorial, 1912. National Archives.
Among the buildings not constructed in the city were several stadiums.
An architectural plan shows a large stadium on what has been used as the polo grounds of West Potomac Park. Click on the link below:
Another is the memorial to Theodore Roosevelt at the east end of the Mall.And one for the veterans of World War II.
Finally, there were great plans for Olympic Stadiums in Washington and Baltimore during the early 2000s.

Unbuilt Washington reveals the Washington that could have been by presenting architectural and urban design projects that were proposed but, for widely varied reasons, never executed. Such projects often exercised a profound influence on what was built and may offer lessons that inform ongoing debates about the design and development of Washington and other cities. What were the motives, assumptions, and cultural trends underlying such proposals? Why were these designs never realized? What was their impact on projects that were completed?

The physical character of Washington, D.C., that we take for granted today is the unique result of countless decisions, debates, successes, failures, reconsiderations, missed opportunities, and lucky breaks. To tourists and residents alike, the city’s greatest landmarks may seem so appropriate, so correct—it is hard to imagine that they could have turned out completely differently. But nothing in the built environment of Washington (or in any other city, for that matter) is predestined.

Watching the Super Bowl Out in the Cold

What would you do if you were one of the twelve hundred people who bought a ticket to the NFL’s big game and were told on the day of the Super Bowl that you had no seat? Fire hazard.

You drove down, took time off, got all keyed up, and found out that obstructed seats exist in the new Dallas stadium.

who has the cash to attend these games? How can cities be expected to pony up to build new stadiums in this economic situation?

I’m still amazed that Washington, DC built Nationals Park and some people still talk about helping Dan Snyder build a stadium near RFK Stadium.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a great column today discussing the trap of building new stadiums, with public money or through giving away big tracts of land and tax breaks.
It’s a rough morning-after for the NFL. The Dallas Super Bowl was a bender, but now that the confetti has fallen, it looks like litter. The hangover has hit, a splitting headache and a sour stomach from the $19 margaritas and the $12 wine and the $10 beers and the rest of the fiscal insanity. Is this really what the NFL wants to become? A divorced-from-reality debauch?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in Jerry World. In Jerry World, a $1.15 billion stadium looks like the Taj Mahal on the outside, but inside some of the seats violate the fire code. In Jerry World, the state of Texas spends $31 million to host the Super Bowl, even as deficits force public school cuts. In Jerry World, it can cost $900 just to park. In Jerry World, fans pay hundreds of dollars to stand outside the stadium.

Buried somewhere in all of the superbull, the booze, bad concerts and relentless commercial squeeze, there was a good football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But to be honest, it was an ancillary event. The NFL may want to rethink that strategy. It may also want to rethink its tendency to look like the Marie Antoinette of the sports world.

Everything you need to know about the future of the NFL could be seen in the gloriously decadent stadium that hosted this Super Bowl. As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed out, “Quite frankly, that’s our stage.” It was the cleanest, safest, nicest stadium anyone has ever visited. It was also the most extravagant and economically stratified. It cost double what Jerry Jones said it would, and taxpayers financed about a quarter of it, yet its innermost marble interiors are totally inaccessible to the average fan.

A tipping point was reached with this Super Bowl, for me. It was the screwed-over anger of those 1,250 people without seats that did it. Those travel-weary, cash-whipped fans paid small fortunes to go to the game, only to discover their stubs were no good, because fire marshals declared some sections unsafe. All of a sudden the whole thing seemed offensive. It was just too much.

For absurdity, how about those four Navy F-18s flying over the stadium – with its retractable roof closed? Everybody inside could only see the planes on the stadium’s video screens. It was strictly a two-second beauty shot. Know what it cost taxpayers? I’ll tell you: $450,000. (The Navy justifies the expense by saying it’s good for recruiting.)
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It’s not clear what the pain threshold of the average NFL fan is: Thirty-two owners digging relentlessly in our pockets haven’t found the bottom yet. But the NFL would be advised to recognize that it’s getting close. Those folks who found themselves without seats? Many were among the league’s most loyal paying customers, season ticket holders. Yet they were treated like afterthoughts, awarded half-built, jerry-rigged seats, folding chairs on auxiliary platforms. Which begs the question of what the “NFL fan experience” really means anymore. A day later the league did its best to make it up to them with offers of tickets to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis and Goodell called it “obviously a failure on our part.”

This Super Bowl was the future, and it set some lousy precedents. Every owner in the league wants a stadium like this one, and they will be pitching – maybe even extorting – their communities to help them build one. They want ever-larger luxury suites and bigger restaurants, and giant scoreboards and TVs, so they can replicate this Super Bowl, and sell standing room space in plazas and blocked views of a big screen for $200.

“Of the 100,000 and change tickets they sold, how many of those people actually had seats, and how many could actually see the field?” asks Neil deMause, a stadium-financing watchdog who co-authored the book, “Field of Schemes.” He adds: “That’s revolutionary if you can sell tickets to not actually watch the game. That’s a whole new ballgame. So obviously everybody is saying, ‘Hey, we want to get one of those.’ ”

It’s the shiny new toy in the league. New stadiums are such a priority for owners that it’s a critical piece of the labor negotiations taking place with the players’ union. A major reason owners resent the 60 percent cut of revenue that goes to players is because it’s not easy to finance stadium projects. They want a restructured agreement so “we can make the kinds of investments that grow this game,” Goodell says, bemoaning the fact that no new construction has started since 2006.

But how much growth does the league need? It already generates an estimated $8 billion, and owners get the first $1 billion off the top. If you really love the NFL – and I do – you have to wonder if the billionizing of the league is really good for it. The average cost of attending a game for a family of four is $412.64. At Cowboys Stadium, it’s a staggering $758.58. That’s what the league calls growth.

Don’t get me wrong: The Super Bowl can be electrifying for a community, and can be priceless in civic pride. Disclosure: I’m from Fort Worth, and I spent the week down there rooting for it to be a success. Cowboys Stadium is a gorgeous structure with some grand qualities, and Roger Staubach, who lobbied for the game, is a lovely guy.

But in the end, this Super Bowl taught me a lesson: Luxury can actually be debasing. The last great building binge in the NFL was from 1995 through 2003, when 21 stadiums were built or refurbished in order to create more luxury boxes, at cost of $6.4 billion. Know how much of that the public paid for? $4.4 billion. Why are we giving 32 rich guys that kind of money, just to prey on us at the box office and concessions? The Dallas deal should be the last of its kind.

When an owner grows tired of a facility and leaves, guess who picks up the tab? New Jersey still owes $110 million on the old Meadowlands home of the New York Giants and Jets, and when both teams moved to their new $1.6 billion, privately financed stadium, they got a huge tax break. According to the Wall Street Journal under their old agreement they paid $20 million a year in tax revenues; now they will pay only about $6 million a year. Know what New Jersey’s deficit is? I’ll tell you: $36 billion.

At its best the NFL is a deeply embedded piece of American culture, with an indissoluble bond with fans. But it’s grown far removed from the grass-roots recreation it started as, the competitive emblem of mill towns, and their enormous civic resilience. As fans, we share blame for being willing to pay anything for it. We’ve allowed league owners to cash in on American pride, and hunger for entertainment. We should insist they share American economic problems.

New Stadiums: In This Climate?

Fox’s football writer is calling for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings because the Metrodome is a “dump.” He notes that nine other cities also need to replace “antiquated” stadiums or risk losing the teams to new cities.

What cities and states have the resources to spend on a stadium right now?

Local towns and cities across the country are shutting down schools for one day a week. They are laying off workers. They are not filling jobs. In some cases their bond ratings are dropping. How could any municipality or state possibly take out more debt to finance a stadium right now.

Years ago they would never even think about spending public money on a stadium. New York City spent on rehabing Yankee Stadium in the early 1970s and was soon asking the federal government for a loan to stay afloat. Are any of the cities “needing” to replace stadiums doomed to repeat this?

Maybe the reporter is right about the stadiums. However, he should atleast be aware of the situation going on in the country!

Sports, Politics and DC History

I talked at the Washington, DC Historical Society last Saturday about DC sports history and stadium plans.

Brett at Historical Society

Brett at Historical Society

The crowd had some serious sports junkies, asking questions about baseball in the 19th century and the way the old Senators compare to the current Nationals.

Also had a cadre of people into DC local politics and the way the opinions of the citizens are often ignored.

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DC Tennis Summer 09

First Venus Williams came. Now it’s sister Serena’s turn.

The World Team Tennis Washington Kastles reconstructed their temporary stadium on the old Convention Center parking lot three weeks ago. Serena plays with her team tonight in her only DC appearance.

The sport is odd. The season lasts one month. Somesports have a playoff seasdon that lasts two months. With WTT you get to see the matches then before you kow it, your team’s in the playoffs and then the playoffs are over.