Ilitch Announces New Arena Plans
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12-11-2012, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Originally Posted by
Buck Aki Berg
**Personal bias - I support the idea of public money to partially pay for such projects**
It's not a matter of a "going rate", it's a matter of obsolescence. The only reasons the Fourms and Gardens of the NHL lasted for 70-80 years was because there was no game-changing advancement in stadium design over that time. But once other buildings sprouted up with club seating and suites (not to mention being more architecturally pleasing), they had to be done away with in the interest of staying competitive - not only in terms of revenue for sports teams, but also in terms of attracting top-end touring acts.
If the stadium-building boom of the 90s had happened 30 years prior, we would have lost all the storied O6 buildings back in the 60s. Likewise, had places like JLA and Rexall been built in the 30s and 40s, they would have had half-century-plus lifespans as well.
We saw the same thing in baseball - Camden Yards was a game-changer in stadium design, and many of the parks built afterwards took on elements of this new design. As a result, many ballparks that weren't very old at all became obsolete (Three Rivers Stadium, the Kingdome, Veterans' Stadium, and Fulton County Stadium all closed their doors after 35 years or less), in addition to places like Tiger Stadium and Comiskey Park which were much, much older.
It's a very valid point as far as staying competitive with the revenue streams you can generate and so on. However, and this is key for Detroit and Michigan, the economic cycles that allowed these projects are no more. The 1960s were probably at the plateau portion of the postwar boom, with the 1950s having having had the greatest economic expansion phase. The Energy Crisis of the 70s and high cost of capital of the 80s, plus recessions, brought a chill to those markets. Enter the 90's economic bubble, and yes, everyone went nuts. Capital was cheap, but it was even cheaper for municipalities and governments in general. It went beyond just 'needing' a new arena, but into the realm of the ostentatious, living fat off of someone elses money (isn't that the definition of the bubble).
If you didn't get your stadium before the economy collapsed in 2008, you're in a much tougher spot economically. Maybe the Ilitches know this and thus the focus on financing most of the cost privately, but it's possible to trim back the scale a little bit--- does it have to have everything? For anyone who has ever built a house, it's the same thought process. I guess you can use oak instead of Brazilian cherry; aluminum windows and not solid wood or steel; ceramic tile and no travertine, trim off some square footage too while you're at it. Americans are space hogs after all.....
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