- Published: 09 October 2014
The glorified, concrete and wood, baseball and football bleacher stadiums of the past have found their way back into 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 future athlete demands.
The multi-purpose stadium was created as a venue, which would serve both football and baseball, as well as any additional event needed to serve up to 100,000 “paid” spectators. These huge, durable, concrete, circular, modern day coliseums were known as “cookie cutters,” since they all looked alike. Venues such as 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 and served as homes to both NFL and MLB teams.
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 the shows get expensive. Most of these multi-purpose stadiums were owned and operated by the municipality and the teams had leases. That meant, the teams shared proceeds with the city and had 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 as full owners. There is no lease to the city, only rental profit from others. New stadiums are retro designed to restore the relics of the past and to bring back the closeness that was lost to the cookie cutters of the Seventies. Two things differ between now and then: (1) the cost to advertise on a bleacher, and (2) when it rains, they just close the roof. That “franchises are reaping additional profit” is 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 than food courts that just happen to have a ball game going on. Truthfully, what earns better than fans gorging themselves on overpriced food, so-called beer and watching a sporting event while sitting on billion dollar bleachers.
Cashy the King