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Back to Retro: The Devolution of Stadiums For the Evolution of Profit
The concrete and wood glorified bleachers base ball and football stadiums of the past have found their way back to the building blocks of the American sports arenas. In the late Sixties and early Seventies when baseball and football salaries were on the rise and free agency was testing the waters, corporate America, the big cities and the sports franchise owners needed to find additional profits to endure the future athlete demands.
The multi-purpose stadium was created as venue which would serve both football and baseball as well as any additional event needed to serve 75 to 100,000 “paid” spectators. These structures were durable, huge, concrete, circular, modern day coliseums, also known as “cookie cutters,” since they all really looked alike. Venues like RFK in Washington, Veterans Stadium in Philly, Fulton County in Atlanta, Busch in St Louis, and the River Front in Cincinnati, just to name a few, all catered to multiple events as well as homes to both NFL and MLB teams.
So, the money has changed the way we view our live sports today. Sports is entertainment and if you want to see the show, you must pay to see the stars. And they get expensive. Most of these multipurpose stadiums were owned and operated by the city municipally and the teams had leases. That meant sharing proceeds with the city and having little control. That wasn’t working for the owners. They needed more profit coming from the venues and most of all, the vendors.
Today, the franchises build their own venues to cater to their team, raking in all the profits that benefit complete ownership. There is no lease to the city, only rental profit from others. Stadiums are de- signed to retro the relics of the past, to bring back the closeness that was lost with in the cookie cutters of the Seventies. Two things stand to differ between then and now: the cost to advertise on a bleacher and when it rains, they just close the roof.Reaping additional profits? Well, that’s an understatement. Million dollar investments are now worth billions of dollars and counting. These venues look the part of a retro park from the golden age of baseball and the heyday of Dick Buckus, but are nothing more then food courts that just happen to have a ball game going on. Truthfully, what earns better then fans gorging themselves with overpriced food, so-called beer and watching a sporting event while sitting on billion dollar bleachers.
Mitch Gainsburg (a.k.a. Cashy the King),hosts The Sports Goombahs radio show and webcast,