The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JUNE  2003

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Summer Road Trips

The early 1990's saw the grunge look become in vogue.  The mid-to-late 1990's saw the industry become part of our lexicon.  The 1990's also produced a new cash cow for baseball - new ballparks.  Since 1989, 17 clubs (19 if you include San Diego and Philadelphia who are currently building new facilities) have built new ballparks.  Ken Griffey's playing career is older than nearly two-thirds of the current (and the two to be built) stadiums. 

The first few ballparks that were built during this time were to replace dilapidated and downright pathetic stadiums.  Toronto's Exhibition Stadium and Indian's Cleveland Stadium were two great examples. 

All eyes were on the Skydome in 1989 with it being the first stadium built since Minnesota's Metrodome in 1982 and the first to have a retractable roof.  One thing that didn't happen for Minnesota in '82 that did for Toronto was skyrocketing attendance.

The Blue Jay's attendance in 1988 was 2.5 million.  The Skydome opened in the middle of the 1989 season and attendance rose to 3.3 million.  They drew 3.8 in their first full year at the Skydome in 1990 and topped the 4 million mark

by Jerry Keys

Yankee Stadium

the next 3 years. 

Owners and GMs around the country noticed a simple economic impact.  Increased attendance means more income.  More income means acquiring better players.  Acquiring better players means higher ticket prices.  Owners saw immediately that their teams GNP could rise as much as 6 fold.

Some teams had new stadium planning already in process.  The White Sox opened the New Comiskey in 1991 and Baltimore opened Camden Yards in 1992.  Attendance increased at both parks as well.  Light bulbs flashed in owners heads all across  the country.

Further evidence was indicated by increased ticket sales at the

Rangers and Indians new ballparks in 1994.

Cleveland was a blueprint for everyone to follow.  Former Indians GM John Hart signed a young nucleus to long term contracts, had a new ballpark in 1994 (Jacobs Field) and signed a few veteran players.

Nine years earlier in 1985, the Indians drew 655,181 fans (8,089 per home game).  Now they drew in 1,995,174 (39,121 per home game) in the strike shortened 1994 season.  Outside of the abbreviated 1995 season, Cleveland drew 3 million per and ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd in attendance from that time until 2001.

From 1993-1999 the only other new ballparks to be opened were 4 to expansion teams (Colorado used Mile High for a couple of years until Coors was built) and Atlanta who now uses  the 1996 Olympic field (now called Turner Field).

With the exceptions of the 2 1998 expansion teams and the 2 stadiums yet to be finished, 7 teams have opened new ballparks since 1999 to mixed results.  Detroit (2000), Pittsburgh and Milwaukee (both 2001) enjoyed increased

Wrigley Field

attendance for a short time.  Owners realized that without a winning team on the field, even a new stadium can't save them.

Teams such as Seattle (1999), San Francisco and Houston (both 2000) have had moderate success mainly due to fielding a playoff caliber team.  With Cincinnati moving into their new park this year, only time will tell with them.

But what do baseball nostalgia-ists do if they want to visit a historic stadium? There are still 11 stadiums that are at least in their 22nd year of existence (one of these is Montreal's Olympic Stadium which will  most likely be demolished after the Expos find a relocation city).  Some teams such as Minnesota are

trying to finance a new ballpark whereas others such as the Chicago Cubs are status quo.

Quietly Kansas City has chosen status quo and Kauffman Stadium (at press time this was the name, if it changes to Books-A-Million Ballpark, my apologies), built in 1973.  And 5 other clubs still inhabit the same field they did in 1968, Oakland (1968), Anaheim and St. Louis (1966), the New York Mets (1964) and Los Angeles (1962).

But for a piece of pure Americana, there are only 3 classic stadiums left.

Fenway Park

Wrigley Field (Cubs), Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park (Red Sox).

Nine years ago I made a promise to myself to never attend another MLB game.  I have yet to do so but if one of these three stadiums were to be on the demolition block, I would without a doubt attend a few games.

The youngest of the three is Yankee Stadium "The House that Ruth Built," built in 1923.  There has been talk of a possible new stadium being built but nothing has materialized.  From what I have heard from people who have gone to a game there,

"where else in America can you pay $6 for a Coke and $7.50 for a doggie and still get sweared at by the vendor for complaining?"

Wrigley Field was opened in 1916 and is the proud owner of the beloved "Bleacher Bums."  The Cubs posted back-to-back World Series wins in 1907 and 1908 and haven't seen fall Classic play since 1945.  My great grandmother who was born in 1895 was just 13 the last time the Cubs were champs.  Although the Cubbies have fielded only 4 noteworthy teams since '45, the stands are still packed.  That's a feat within itself because almost every Cubbies home games is still played during the day (first night game was not played there until 1988).

And the oldest current ballpark belongs to the other "perennial loser," the Boston Red Sox (1912).  Unlike the Cubbies, the BoSox show up quite often, they just fail to produce in the playoffs.  Legend has it that after being traded, Babe Ruth put a curse on the club, "The Curse of the Bambino."  After winning the World Series in 3 of 4 years (1915, 1916, 1918), Boston hasn't been champs since.  But like at Chicago, fans still turn out in droves.

With overseas travel now considered a danger and with the economy still not recovered, a nice cost-friendly road trip this summer could consist of trips to one of the old-style ballparks.  Or possibly a last stop before demolition at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia or Jack Murphy Stadium (yeah they call it something else but it's still JM to me) in San Diego.