Wednesday, June 30, 2004

This Story Does Me Bodley Harm

Say it out loud. It's still not funny, but you get it, right?
I suppose it's a good sign that all this news is coming out; perhaps it means the situation is coming to a head. Or maybe Selig will ignore it and keep the Expos barnstorming another year.

Rather than summarize today's news, I advise you to have a look at this post from Off Wing Opinion. I'll add this story from ESPN, which I can't read because I'm not about to pay to read Neyer. Vidro and Cabrera are pissed about the whole thing, and who can blame them?

There is a column I want to talk about, though. USA Today reported that the Relocation Committee is leaning towards either DC or Northern Virginia. They also ran a story by Hal Bodley ranking the six finalists in the Expos sweepstakes. This latter story is unforgivably sloppy or biased. Or both.

Bodley lists the finalists along with a demographic analysis and the pros and cons of each city/secluded suburban enclave. Now, most of my argument depends on this fact, so pay attention: Loudoun County and DC are listed as having the exact same demographic information - same TV households, same median income, same everything. Bear that in mind. Here are two of the advantages for Loudoun:
• Site would have less attendance impact on the Baltimore Orioles than Washington.
• Loudoun County is the fastest-growing county in the United States, with the population climbing 30% from 2000 to 2003.
Now hold on just a damn minute! Bodley is assuming that a DC site would hurt the Orioles more than a NoVa site (Angelos doesn't seem to agree, but more on that later). But how is this possible when the two locations are drawing on the exact same 7,608,070 people? It's one or the other - either NoVa doesn't impinge on Baltimore, or they draw from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. You can't have it both ways. If it's the latter, Loudoun's growth should be included under DC's advantages as well. Here's another "advantage":
• Amended plans addressed concerns about traffic congestion.
Where? Did they install a teleportation device? Did the Metro get extended over the weekend and I didn't hear about it? Furthermore, how is this an advantage? At best, it's a disadvantage that has been addressed. At worst, it's just a disadvantage.
From the con side:
• Fans from Washington might not be attracted to a suburban site.
As I mentioned earlier (at the top of my lungs with one finger extended), the Loudoun Cabal doesn't want fans from Washington. Quoting from the Times story:
And in a slight nod to the remoteness of the site, Collins said he didn't plan to market the team extensively to fans in the District, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Southern Maryland.
"We've always looked south and west of the [Potomac]," Collins said. "Nothing has really changed there. In this area, you do not want to cross any bridges."
They know full well Washingtonians and Marylanders won't come to these games. I know it, they know it, you know it, but Bodley either doesn't know it or chooses not to mention it.

On to the DC bit. He includes this in the advantages:
• Economic proposal, as presented, is the best of the six.
I have no way of knowing if this is true. Feel free to holler at me (as the kids say) if you do. Very interesting, regardless. Disadvantages:
• Impact on attendance of the Baltimore Orioles, about 40 miles away. O's owner Peter Angelos might require compensation for lost revenue.
I repeat myself: you can't give DC's demographics to Loudoun without giving DC's Angelos problem to them as well.
• Placing a team there would not be as bold an expansion as it would be in Monterrey, Mexico, or Las Vegas.
What the hell are you talking about? For one thing, this is a really stupid way to look at it. Let's expand to Sri Lanka - that's hella bold. For another, why didn't you mention this in the NoVa bit? HUH?
• MLB strongly considers advantages of downtown stadiums, but Washington is unique. Most of the people who work there don't live there.
This supposed disadvantage is possibly the biggest advantage DC has over NoVa. As has been noted by others, DC's transit system is designed to bring people from the suburbs into downtown. It sure isn't built to take people into Loudoun County. Try it.

Go read the whole thing. I haven't addressed all the points, and I left out his analysis of the other four bids entirely (they don't seem all that likely, and I'm getting too verbose as it is). It certainly seems to me that USA Today has staked a position. Both the articles linked above have a lovely graphic of what a Loudoun stadium would look like. I find it hard to believe that the groups in DC, Vegas, etc. didn't bother to get some neat pictures done, yet USA Today chose to run two from the NoVa crowd. Eric at Off Wing points out that the paper is "headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, about 20 minutes from the proposed ballpark." The author of this piece clearly manipulates his factoids to make the NoVa bid look better. What do you think?

One more thing before I go watch the Sox/Yankees game. From MLB's standpoint, what is the appeal of the Loudoun bid? Bodley comments that the DC plan is the best from a financial standpoint (I'm not talking about the morality or efficacy of a DC stadium). If he's right (I certianly don't know if he is), isn't that MLB's overriding consideration? The Loudoun plan has the advantage of being already legislated, but it seems clear that the DC plan would be passed without difficulty as soon as MLB gave the word. The other hurdle, of course, is Peter Angelos. Loudoun backers insist that their scenario hurts the O's less than DC's, but I don't buy it. Angelos is more concerned about his broadcast rights than about the physical presence of DCers at Camden, and you can bet the Virginia Monologues (props to Forklift, if that is your real name) would have their games broadcast round these parts. If Angelos really thought the Loudoun plan was preferable, he would have come out in favor of it. Instead, he has endorsed a no-hope Puerto Rico plan. So tell me (and I'm asking seriously): why would baseball choose Loudoun over DC?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right, Ryan, the folks in DC did get some nifty graphics done. The Post ran photos of an artist's rendering of downtown stadium site. I remember commenting on how lovely it was. Take THAT, USA today!
-Karen

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