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Robert Trigaux

Keeping up with the Joneses of baseball stadiums




Wake up and good morning. Just an observation, but isn't it interesting that A Baseball Community, Tampa Bay's community task force making recommendations on a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium and location, just this past week called for any new stadium to house a compact 37,000 fans and have a retractable roof?

Just like the newly unveiled plans this past Saturday for a new Miami stadium for the Florida Marlins. Retractable roof? Check. Room for 37,000? Check. Take a look at the rendering above of the proposed Marlins field with the retractable roof -- in the open position -- atop. Pretty cool. Price tag: An estimated $515 million, say the Marlins.

Check out the entire animated video tour of the proposed Miami stadium. It's gorgeous -- designed by veteran ballpark architecture firm Populous. But if that's a $515 million stadium, then the Washington Nationals will win the World Series this year. I assure you, that's a lowball number. The yet-unnamed stadium will be one of the smaller in Major League Baseball (37,000) and also will be built on the smallest plot of land (928,000 square feet).

So now our community baseball group delivers the revelation that the Rays, too, need a retractable roof -- meaning air conditioning and rain protection -- and room for 37,000. The Rays warn that would come with a $500-$600 million price tag (but don't forget that's for the stadium and not all the extra costs and overruns that inevitably consume such projects).

Why do we care about what the Florida Marlins build in Miami? Because we are intensely competitive with the Marlins and Miami, whether we admit it or not. (Besides, would you really go to a lot of Rays games without air conditioning? No way.)

Remember the phrase Keeping up with the Joneses? It's an old phrase that refers to the insatiable desire to achieve or own as much as the people around you. It's a benchmark of social caste or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to "Keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.

So if the Marlins have a retractable roof, 37,000-fan stadium, how can the Rays have anything less? Hold on to your wallets. And remember those stadium price tags. They'll be looking almost cheap before too long.

 -- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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