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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Where the big bucks go

A couple of years ago, I taught a course called "Globalization (and Baseball)." It was fun, focusing on lots of interesting issues -- such as the working conditions in baseball's minor leagues in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, remittances from baseball players to their home countries, stadium security in the age of globalized terror, migration and identity issues, etc.

I've long been interested in baseball and enjoyed the class, but I've never really devoted much time to baseball-related research questions.

Maybe I should.

Consider this factoid:
More public and private money is spent on sports and multi-purpose facilities than on any other kind of building.
That's from an article about the Kansas City architectural firm HOK, which has done $12 billion in stadium business.

Why do Americans want to spend so much public money on stadiums and other similar facilities?

My community is considering a huge downtown Louisville arena to replace Freedom Hall as home to the local college hoops team. Coach Pitino's view on this:
"I was down the road (Lexington), and I know what the perception of Louisville is: Louisville is an island — it's not part of the state of Kentucky. They don't look at it like Nashville or Indianapolis. They look at it as an island where they wear red instead of blue.

"I have never paid any attention to it. It's never going to get voted in. It's a waste of time; it's a waste of energy; it's a waste. I'm very excited about our new practice facility we're going to start building in May. So hire all the consultants you want; do whatever you like — it's not going to happen."
The guy might be overpaid, but I hope he knows something about local politics.

According to the NCAA's figures, Louisville is consistently in the top 5 in college basketball attendance. And stadiums, of course, are poor uses of public funds.

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