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Forget modern, let's go retro on the new stadium

August 30, 2000

Forget modern, let's go retro on the new stadium



When all is said and done and they sit down to record the drama that is professional baseball in Hagerstown, will the great playwrights decide it should be a tragedy (Oedipus Suns) or a comedy (Twelfth Inning)?

I think it pitched over to the comedy side last week, when a proposal surfaced to renovate Municipal Stadium instead of building a new arena on the interstate.

I didn't do any research on this, but I'm assuming the reason is money.

Construction projects everywhere are coming in way over budget, thanks to the strong economy. Anyone who has studied economics can tell you that one of the strongest natural laws of supply and demand is that when public treasuries are overflowing with tax dollars, private contractors are compelled to charge more for their work.

Known as the Macroeconomic Cash Grab Model of Neoclassic Post Keynesian Economic Theory, the postulate suggests that real rigidities in the economy deviate against nominal rigidities insofar as demand curves indirectly reflect menu costs that cycle through between long-run aggregate supply fully reflected in demand-pull and cost-push inflation.

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Obviously, to a trained economist, this also perfectly explains why your big employer who feeds at the public trough can't possibly afford to pay you one more cent.

So now the cost of the new stadium is probably just this side of an atomic supercollider - hey wait, instead of a combo stadium/rail museum, how 'bout a stadium/atomic supercollider? Naw, too Japanese - and we need some sort of fall-back position.

But it seems to me that the three main reasons we needed a new stadium were interstate visibility, parking and the small detail that when it rains hard, Municipal Stadium becomes Municipal Reservoir.

OK, so suppose it's possible to build a Suez-like canal around the stadium to take care of the flooding problem. But where are people going to park, on the locks?

And it's hard enough to find the stadium on fireworks night, much less a twi-night doubleheader. Somehow, none of the problems we started out with seem to have gone away with this solution. Plus, the Suns would lose the $1 million pledge from Allegheny Energy, which wants a visible site on the interstate.

So, once again, it is left to me to figure out what should be done. It's so simple, really, I'm not sure why someone hasn't thought of it before.

Instead of renovating the old site and turning it into a gorgeous new stadium, why not build an old 1930s retro park on the new site?

It would be perfect: Campy aluminum "bleacher style" benches instead of those new individual seats with backs in them; an old-fashioned corrugated steel press box that shares all the amenities of a chicken coop, although it doesn't smell as good; one of those trendy antique iron-bar grills (give it a catchy name like, oh I don't know, the "Sunset Grill") for frankfurters and milled oat cakes; instead of sky boxes, create a traditional "family section" where children will be limited to three beers each, and finally - you'll love this touch - how about a tremendous hump in left field to give the park that unique, individual touch.

Even at today's prices, I'm guessing you could build the steel girder and watered-down concrete stadium for not much more than what Allegheny's pitching in.

And why would people go to a new/old ballpark? The same reason they put rickety old distressed washstands with peeling paint in their living rooms. The same reason that they flock to the '50s-style silver diners they wouldn't set foot in when they were young. The same reason they buy those hideous Chrysler PT Cruisers.

Because we will tell them it's the trendy thing to do. Market it and they will follow.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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