Munsey on Ballparks
New York's stadium issue
by Paul Munsey (archive)
March 19, 2005
There has been a lot in the news lately about efforts to build stadiums for the New York Jets and Giants football teams. What does this have to do with baseball? Although we're not hearing much about it, the Yankees and Mets have a great deal of interest in how the football stadium issue is resolved.
The centerpiece of the discussion is a proposed multibillion dollar retractable roof stadium for the Jets to be built over the railroad tracks serving Pennsylvania Station on Manhattan's west side. The stadium would also be used to host the Olympics if New York were successful in an attempt to bring the games there in 2012.
Recently, with their discussions with New Jersey regarding renovations to their current stadium going poorly, the New York Giants have expressed an interest in sharing the new stadium with the Jets. Another recent development has the NFL voting next week on whether to play the 2010 Super Bowl at the proposed stadium.
Several years ago, the idea for a multipurpose domed stadium at the same location surfaced, with the Yankees and Jets as proposed tenants. It seemed implausible that the Yankees would be willing to move from the most famous baseball park in history to share a SkyDome-style multipurpose stadium. Nonetheless, the proposal helped bring the discussion to where it is today.
It looks like New York's MLB teams are trying to position themselves so they will receive a proportionate share of any stadium subsidies, based on what the city and state ultimately decide to give to the city's football teams. The football teams are getting all the headlines, while the baseball teams are keeping a low profile. What's wrong with this picture? Why is George Steinbrenner so quiet?
Let's be patient. The Mets have always maintained a low profile, but we all know we're going to hear from the Yankees sooner or later. I think we'll be hearing something soon, and when we do, there will be no mistaking it.
Reports over the past few years have had the Yankees initially proposing a retractable roof facility with all the amenities, only to be scaled down in later reports. I have a hard time visualizing Mr. Steinbrenner settling for anything but the best.
I read a wonderful book this week called Ebbets Field: Brooklyn's Baseball Shrine by Joseph McCauley. It was published last October through AuthorHouse.
For a couple of years, Mr. McCauley was a regular on baseball forums asking people to come forward with their stories on the old ballpark. He contacted old-time ballplayers, sportscasters, newspapermen and Brooklynites who remember when the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field. He also visited the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Library and the Library of Congress to do research for his book.
The first five chapters give a requisite history of the Dodgers during their time in Brooklyn. I started to wonder if I was reading a book about the Dodgers, rather than Ebbets Field. However, my patience paid off and I was rewarded with many chapters about the ballpark.
What sets this book apart is the incredible number of interviews. It seems like every possible perspective has been covered. Players, workers, fans and even neighbors who never attended games have given their account of Ebbets Field.
There are a lot great pictures in the book, many of which were new to me. One of these is a rare photo of the mysterious rotunda which many of us have heard about, but never seen. I must confess that my knowledge of it was incorrect. When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were refurbishing Tropicana Field for the new team's inaugural season in 1998, they built what they called an "Ebbets Field style rotunda." I dutifully reported that on my Web site. However, after reading Mr. McCauley's book, I can say with confidence that there is no resemblance between the two rotundas.
Mr. McCauley self-published his book, as evidenced by the frequent misspellings. However, there aren't any more misspellings than what you find on the Internet these days, including on my own site. It's a large paperback book (8.5" x 11") containing 89 pages in 15 chapters.
Paul Munsey is the editor of Ballparks.com.
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