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August 8, 2009

Fan or chump? New NY stadiums blur the difference, says Metropolis writer; also, did AY distract civics from stadium fights?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder notes an article by Mark Lamster in the July/August issue of Metropolis that wonders, after subsidizing stadiums, and paying exorbitant prices for game tickets, at what point does a sports fan begin to feel merely exploited?

The article looks at why criticism of the new stadiums for the Mets and Yankess might have been muted because of attention paid to other issues, including Atlantic Yards, though Norman Oder doesn't agree.

That fans are in essence paying for their own disenfranchisement has drawn harsh criticism from those who wished to save the old stadiums from the wrecking crews. “You have two ballparks that would never have been built if the people of New York had gotten to vote on it,” says Jim Bouton, an all-star pitcher for the Yankees in the 1960s and later a best-selling author and preservation advocate. “It’s against everything I believe about baseball and democracy.” The old ballparks were fully functional and, at least in the case of Yankee Stadium, of considerable historical significance. But the good-government activists who might have put the brakes on the two teams were distracted in the crucial months when stadium financing came up for debate. Preservationists were preoccupied with the fate of Edward Durell Stone’s kitschy Gallery of Modern Art, on Columbus Circle. The Atlan­tic Yards development, in Brooklyn, also commanded public attention. And, of course, there were elitists who couldn’t imagine why two crumbling baseball stadiums deserved saving at all. Against this backdrop, the most vocal critics of the two new parks, neighborhood groups in the Bronx and Queens, found themselves in the political and media wilderness. When the New York Times, in a March 2005 editorial, gave the new ballparks a backdoor endorsement—supporting them provided that the teams pay their own way—any hope of stopping the stadiums was lost. (Emphasis added)

I'm not so sure of his analysis. It was the battle over the West Side Stadium that wore out planning groups like the Regional Plan Association. Nor did Atlantic Yards, at least at the time, command so much public attention, though--given the vigor of the AY opposition and the presence of blogs like AYR and NLG--it's fair to say that the Atlantic Yards controversy produced much more homegrown media.

link

Posted by steve at August 8, 2009 8:04 AM