Friday roundup: If you’re watching TV sports in empty stadiums by summer, count yourself lucky

Michael Sorkin, who died yesterday of COVID-19, was a prolific architecture critic (and architect) and observer of the politics of public space, and so not a little influential in the development of my own writing. I’m sure I read some of Sorkin’s architecture criticism in the Village Voice, but he first came on my radar with his 1992 anthology “Variations on a Theme Park,” a terrific collection of essays discussing the ways that architects, urban planners, and major corporations were redesigning the world we live in to become a simulacrum of what people think they want from their environment, but packaged in a way to better make them safely saleable commodities. (I wish I’d gotten a chance to ask him what he thought of the Atlanta Braves‘ new stadium, with its prefab walkable urban neighborhood with no real city attached to it.) In his “Variations on a Theme Park” essay on Disneyland and Disney World, he laid out the history of imagineered cities starting with the earliest World’s Fairs, up to the present day with Disney’s pioneering of “copyrighted urban environments” where photos cannot even be taken and published without prior approval of the Mouse — a restriction he got around by running as an illustration a photo of some clouds, and labeling it, “The sky above Disney World.”

I really hope this isn’t the beginning of a weekly feature on great people we’ve lost to this pandemic, though it seems pretty inevitable at this point. For now, on with the other stadium and arena news, though if you’re looking for a break from incessant coronavirus coverage, you won’t find it here:


19 comments on “Friday roundup: If you’re watching TV sports in empty stadiums by summer, count yourself lucky

  1. OMG, I forgot about the giant flag makers, but the again that’s just more people the Boston Bruins won’t be paying.

    • And the Red Sox:

      https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2020/03/26/red-sox-fenway-concessions-workers-coronavirus/

  2. SI article summary – “Daddy wants a roofed stadium, doesn’t care where”.

  3. I would not be shocked if the first sport to return will be football ( College and NFL), but without fans.

  4. Now that there are almost no commercial flights in the air, let’s bailout the giant flag industry and build a series of 1500ft tall flagpoles. We can dual purpose them as visual communications systems like the Beacons of Gondor. I’ll take my consulting check now, thanks.

  5. Hmm, they’ve got unused fabric and unused sewing capacity, I wonder if there’s something more urgent Giant Flag inc could be producing.

  6. I don’t think they’re working on the Islanders new arena, I saw no one at the site today, so maybe arena building is not essential? I also looked at the site of the new LIRR station. No one’s there, and it looks like construction had not started yet. That’s bad because I believe the Islanders have an escape clause if the station is not ready by 2022.

    • Where did you see that the Islanders have an escape clause? Also, what would there be to escape, since they’ll own the arena?

  7. Hands up everyone who believes that MLB (parent or otherwise) teams and owners actually give a shit about their ushers, concession, security or other part time game day employees.

    Much less MiLB’s equivalent workers.

    If they cared about either, they wouldn’t keep them on zero hour based employment contracts (or just hire them through contracting companies which, in some cases, I am quite sure the MLB team owner also controls…).

    They do not care. This is just PR window dressing.

    At least the Bruins (and the Flames ownership, as exemplified by the recently expired Ken King) have the stones to stand up and effectively say “We don’t give a shit about any of you. We may all be millionaires (or billionaires), but if we see a chance to get even richer by screwing over a few dozen temps, expect it to happen. Oh, and your season ticket prices are going up 11% next year”.

    If MiLB and MLB are so woven into the fabric of the community that taxpayers should build the stadia for them (and then give them free rent and on occasion even pay maintenance and upkeep for them as well… and in Glendale actually pay them to play in the facility that was built for them for free…), then surely they can pay a few 6 hour a day employees (at most) for 50-60 days a year?

    After all…. these teams are the fabric of the community…

    In an environment where NBA, NHL and MLB teams routinely pay millions to players who have not suited up for a game for 2-3 years (Aaron Gray, Carl Crawford, Carl Pavano… the list is pretty much endless) does anyone actually believe that paying less than 200 casual and temp employees $85 a day for 60 days a year (on avg) will mean financial ruin for a major league organization?

    It’s about $1m… roughly equivalent to the league minimum in several of the major sports leagues. Yet the teams are leaving it to the players to chip in to cover it.

    Remember that next time your local ‘fine upstanding citizen franchise owner’ demands taxpayer funding for renovations or another new arena.

    • Right On! Too 70’s?

      Don’t forget. National Freeloader League (NFL). Another American favorite!

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2015/04/28/the-nfl-is-dropping-its-tax-exempt-status-why-that-ends-up-helping-them-out/

      Back to my poker game with the housecat. Man, ol’ man, am I getting spanked. Down 8 cans of salmon (Red), 4 cans of tuna (Blue), 8 cans of chicken (White) and a bag of cat litter. Shelter in place is getting damn expensive!

  8. Actually, they can leave before the 25 year contract is up if the station is not operational by 2024. I don’t know why the Islanders consistently sign leases with escapes clauses but they do, Barclays, Belmont. Maybe they’ll go back to Nassau Coliseum (again).

    https://www.liherald.com/stories/belmont-agreement-bars-relocation-for-25-years,122403?

    • “Operational” by 2024 is a pretty low bar. Though I suppose a year or so of coronavirus delay would make it marginally tougher.

  9. A new league has replaced the 4 major professional leagues in the US this year. Nightly scores broadcast on all cable and network channels.

    Who would’ve guessed this deep into the season only one team would be undefeated.

    On offense. Team always finds the cracks and seams in the defensive line for long gains.

    On defense. Team is relentless. Breaking through the offensive line and taking down the opponent.

    Seattle. San Francisco. Los Angeles. New York. New Jersey. Boston. Chicago. Detroit. New Orleans. Doesn’t matter (even New Rochelle has a league franchise). Every night, team runs up the score on their opponent.

    Even though franchise got 2 trillion for a new stadium build, team wants to play-out entire season at their opponents venue.

    On Fox Sports Channel. Broadcasters seem intent to not acknowledge or downplay team’s capability and strength.

    Prediction. COVID-19 is going to win this year’s league, Major Pandemic (MPL), title.

    My hope. At the end of the season, league commissioner is fired. Commissioner promised early on “We’re gonna win so much! We’re gonna win so much, fans would even get tired of winning.” Then fans would say, “Please, please, it’s too much winning! We can’t take it anymore. It’s too much winning!” Seeing COVID-19 win every night, feels too much like losing.

  10. It took 64 years, but Dolan finally passed a test…
    www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-28/nyc-quarantine-debated-italy-deaths-pass-10-000-virus-update

    What? Too soon?

  11. Sorry, make the link….

    www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-29/new-york-knicks-owner-jim-dolan-tests-positive-for-coronavirus

    • Self isolating at his home in the Hamptons. Best medical care billions can afford. It’s gonna be tough, but he’ll be okay.

      https://nypost.com/2020/03/28/msg-chairman-james-dolan-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/

  12. Sorry about the death of Michael Sorkin, sounds like he was an interesting guy.

  13. Great quote in the NY Times obituary on Sorkin:
    “He said what everyone was really thinking but were afraid to say,”