Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dream Sequence

The spring is turning into an early summer, and the Cardinals are playing in a fabulous new downtown ballpark, but it wasn't always certain things would turn out this way.

Invoking Wayne's World dream sequence imagery, let's go back to 2004 when negotiations were at their peak on the proposed new ballpark for the city.

Imagine for a moment that negotiations for a downtown ballpark had failed. Imagine that the cooperation between the city and the county never happened. And then imagine that the Cardinals followed through on their promise to get a new stadium somewhere. And imagine that somewhere turned out to be a "blighted" farm field up near Interstates 55 and 270, around Edwardsville, Illinois.

Baseball season 2006 opens and Busch Stadium sits dark and empty in downtown St. Louis. All the buzz about the Cardinals season would be happening at KTRS' studios in Westport Plaza and the new, suburban ballpark in Southwestern Illinois. Downtown would still have KMOX, but not the Cardinals. Columnists would write about the similar fates of our jilted downtown and KMOX- they still have each other, but not the Cardinals.

Fortunately, that scenario was avoided. We can pinch ourselves and see a fantastic new ballpark right where ballparks are supposed to be: downtown.


Matt Fernandez said...

Only problem with that is that negotiations were in there peak in 2003. Work Started December 23, 2003.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. That was an early Christmas present for the ages for St. Louis, eh?

Matthew Murphy said...

The Cardinals owners leveraged the fans' love of the Cardinals in order to get public funding on a project they could have funded themselves.

I think the region would have happily chipped in to help the Cardinals build a new stadium. Instead the owners decided to threaten the city to get what they wanted.

Whether they would have left or not, that's questionable. What isn't in question is the fact that the Cardinals' owners used strong-arm tactics to squeeze the city and the region to get what they wanted.

In the end the new stadium and surrounding development will likely help bring more life to downtown, yet every time I look at the stadium I hear echoes of the threats by the Cardinals owners to take their ball and go play somewhere else unless they get everything they want.

Add to that their Christmas massacre of the KTRS on-air staff following the purchase of the station, and I my enthusiasm for contributing any money to their coffers quickly wanes.