With Memorial Day comes the stretch of the calendar known as summer.
Long, languorous and lovely, its days are filled with a behavior all their own. In the South in particular, the heat of summerits humidity, its torpor, its vastnesshas created an entire culture. And in America, it is fair to say that an entire game grew up to fit the season.
That game is baseball.
Slow and measured, baseball proceeds in so many ways like the season in which it is played. It doesn’t rush itself. At times, it doesn’t even seem like it’s exerting itself. But at a moment’s noticemuch like an afternoon thunderstorm cracking open in some sudden cumulus apparitionthe game can explode. But just as soon as it does, it’s back to the order, the measure, the slow and steady pace.
Sitting outdoors in the bleachers watching a game is both an accomplishment of summer and an accommodation to it. Cold beer provides refreshment, peanuts the sustenance. In the final analysis, there’s no better way to wile away a steamy summer evening than to sit with your family and your community and hear the crack of a bat and the predictable rise-and-fall voice of an announcer. This while the sweet, cool condensation of an ice cold brew drips down your wrist. As Humphrey Bogart once said, “A hot dog at the ballpark is better than steak at the Ritz.” This is the best summer life has to offer.
For years now, Nashvillians have retreated to Greer Stadium for their summer baseball experience, and it has served us well. But it’s the pony league of facilitiesold and worn and underwhelming, like the brown plaid couch gathering dust in the garage.
There may be a cure. The Nashville Sounds are now working on a deal to finance a new, 11,000-seat downtown ballpark and accompanying residential and retail development, a scenario the Scene enthusiastically supports. The project would be located on the Cumberland River at the old thermal trash-burning site. Already, the state legislature has approved a funding mechanism, wherein state and local sales taxes generated from the ballpark and development would be used to repay Metro-backed bonds on the $36 million stadium. The trick now is to convince Mayor Bill Purcell and the Metro Council that this is a deal worth doing, that the benefit for the city would outweigh the inherent risks of such a proposition.
The risks are these. First, there is a chance that sales taxes will come up short. Second, there is the possibility that the Sounds and their developer partner will go belly-up and leave the city holding the bag. In life, as in baseball, anything can happen. But we believe this is a risk worth taking, like stealing second in the ninth inning, with two outs and a batter at 3-2. Of this, Nashville’s chief executive may need some convincing.
Often to his credit, Mayor Bill Purcell is generally a risk-averse manager, and even he would probably agree on this point. He has spent city resources conservatively, and made known his distaste for subsidizing private enterprise with public coin. But on this deal, assuming sales taxes come in as projected, the city would be responsible only for $300,000 in annual maintenance costs at the new stadium. That’s just a drop in the bucket of a billion-dollar budget.
The annual debt service on the bonds would be an estimated $2.6 million, to be covered by a combination of sales tax revenue and contributions from the Sounds and the developer. Even in the worst case scenarioMetro footing that entire bill, which isn’t at all likely to happenthe total expenditure would be far less than the city’s annual subsidy for the arena, which was $5 million last year.
If the prospect of a downtown legacy and the potential economic and civic boost of such a venture isn’t enough to sway the mayor, maybe the magical combination of summer, baseball and a community in love with the game will be. Babe Ruth once said, “Don’t be afraid to take advice. There’s always something new to learn.” Our advice, Mr. Mayor: Do this deal.
"Ge, Verizon and many others have had several years in which NO taxes were paid---filthy…
OK. So? It used to be in Orlando, which is somewhat closer to an ocean,…
"There's not much point in having the Coast Guard or a submarine base in Oklahoma,…
Yes Min I was in Cleveland the week after the raid, and it was getting…
"It takes years to earn the rank of Eagle, Zoombah.
You can't just…