Archive for the ‘baseball stadium’ Category

Wrong End of the Telescope

April 14, 2009

Wrong End of the Telescope

Everyone loves to root for the home team, but while the sentiment is charming, it also makes bookies rich. Why should government make the same kind of dumb bet, but at higher stakes? That’s exactly what happens when the dynamics of real estate speculation are magnified by taxpayer-funded sports stadium projects.

Objective assessment of athletes is difficult; inflating the merits of a sports team with hometown loyalty and wishful thinking is a sucker’s game. Likewise, a publicly-funded sports facility is a sucker bet for citizens and a speculator’s dream.

Yesterday’s local news featured pathetic interviews with DC baseball fans. Folks in Nationals ballcaps, standing near lots laid waste by stadium-fueled development delusions, said it had taken a decade for the downtown arena neighborhood to develop, so they were willing to endure ten years of unproductive desolation caused by Nats Park construction. With all this “Wait Until Next Decade” talk it was hard to remember that Monday was Opening Day, not the end of a losing season. 


Nationals Owner Hits Grand Slam

April 7, 2009

Nationals Owner Hits Grand Slam

Last season, Forbes magazine listed Washington Nationals owner Theodore Lerner at number 462 on their annual Billionaires’ List, with a personal wealth of $2.5 billion. The 2009 Forbes list is shorter, of course; we’re in a worldwide financial meltdown and the number of billionaires is a mere 793, down from last year’s 1,125.

Mr. Lerner, though, has bucked the trend: this year he’s #191, with assets of  $3.2 billion. In 2007 Ted Lerner was in true Nationals form, at the bottom of the Bigs (#664, $1.5 billion). Let’s hear it for the home team!

Tomorrow, to celebrate Mr. Lerner’s coup, the cash-strapped DC Government will present him with $700,000-worth of sculpture it bought for him, decorations for the $611 million stadium taxpayers built for the Lerner family last year. We have not learned if the Lerners are actually paying the stadium rent this year.


Admire the sculptures your tax dollars bought for the Lerners 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the artwork will be dedicated at Nationals Park.  RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free. See the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

 Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

March 26, 2009

DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

As part of its economic recovery effort, the DC Government commissioned $700,000 worth of sculpture for billionaire Theodore Lerner and his family. DC already built $611 million Nationals Park for the Lerners, who own the local Major League Baseball franchise, and the government wants to decorate it to suit the wealthy tenants. Who knows, this might even encourage the Lerners to actually pay rent on the stadium.

You can admire the artistic gifts your tax dollars bought for the Lerners at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the sculptures will be dedicated. RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free, so go see the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

Forbes estimates the personal wealth of Theodore  N. Lerner at $2.5 billion, but why spend your own money on art when the taxpayers will commission it for you?  The DC Government dead- panned that the baseball art belongs to DC and is only on loan to the Lerners, an assertion worthy of a Larry Neal Award for fiction.  The sculpture  is site-specific, so saying the art is on loan is like saying you don’t own the fillings in your teeth, you only rent them.


Meaty News

March 25, 2009

Meaty News

Somebody give me a cheeseburger!
— Steve Miller, Living in the USA (1968)

What real American doesn’t like burgers? Hell, even lessmeatarian Mark Bittman’s pals Daniel Meyer and Ed Schneider like burgers! So what could be better? BIGGER burgers!

Forget those Mickey Dee puny-pounders. There’s major news from the minor leagues. This season the West Michigan Whitecaps of Grand Rapids will offer the 4,800-calorie Fifth Third Burger to manlier meat-eaters. The ‘Caps play in a ballpark named after Fifth Third Bank so, as Michael Zuidema explains in the Grand Rapids Press,  the burger’s builders balance five third-of-a-pound beef patties,  five slices of American cheese, salsa, nacho cheese, Fritos, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream on a big bun. The  jalapeño peppers are optional.


A-Roid Park

February 11, 2009

A-Roid Park

The University of Miami named its new baseball stadium after a famous U of Miami dropout: Alex Rodriguez Park. The steroid-using Yankee slugger will be celebrated at a special event in Coral Gables this Sunday. This fundraising dinner is bound to give university president Donna Shalala indigestion.


What’s With the HAIR?

December 11, 2008

 What's With the Hair?

High crimes and misdemeanors. A governor arrested. An empty U.S. Senate seat. Extortion. Bribery. The troubled Trib. Baseball. Skulduggery, obscenity, conspiracy, wheeling, dealing.

Naturally, the first thing concerned citizens want to know about Rod Blagojevich is:  What’s with that hair?


Blagojevich Legal Defense

December 11, 2008

Blagojevich Legal Defense

Accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama and attempted extortion of a major newspaper and the Chicago Cubs, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has few strategic legal options open to him.

The most promising legal theory is the Flip Wilson Ploy.

Time Magazine proposes another variation.


Image by Mike Licht (the only one on his block in DC who isn’t a lawyer).  Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Grand New Flags

July 4, 2008

Grand New Flags
Photo: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

It was 255 by 505 feet, and once hung on the Hoover Dam, reports John Branch in the New York Times. It was the largest American flag in the world. Big flags have been part of special events in the USA for nearly a quarter century.

Eccentric patriot Thomas Demski commissioned a 95-by-160-foot American flag in 1984 for display at Super Bowl XVIII, where it covered half the football field at Tampa Stadium. We presume Mr. Demski was rooting for the L.A. Raiders, who beat the Washington Redskins by a record margin of 38–9.


Accused Fund Traders and Mortgage Fraudsters Jailed in New Yankee Stadium

June 19, 2008

Accused Fund Traders and Mortgage Fraudsters Jailed in New Yankee Stadium

Ralph R. Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, senior officials of Bears Stearns, were the first of an expected flood of  hedge fund, secondary debt market, derivative, commodities, and security traders to be arrested and indicted for fraud. They join the hundreds of real estate brokers and mortgage officers arrested by the FBI for their role in the subprime mortgage melt-down at the new, unfinished Yankee Stadium, where they will be held in custody pending trial.


Cindy McCain, Foreign Agent?

June 12, 2008

Cindy McCain -- Foreign Agent

The multinational beer brewing corporation !nBev, headquartered in Belgium, with operations in Brazil, Canada, Britain and who-knows-where, has made an angry, drunken advance unsolicited take-over bid for Anheuser-Busch, largest brewery in the U.S. of A. and brewer of Budweiser.

Budweiser! Holy Clydesdale! Is nothing sacred?