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WITH NEW STADIUMS, HAVE GAMES BECOME MORE CIRCUS THAN SHOW?
Published March 27, 1998
"Taking a cue from amusement parks, the newest stadiums in pro sports are touting all sorts of distractions -- allowing people to spend extra cash without ever having to watch the game," according to Sam Walker of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Team owners say that "the added attractions will lure new groups to the stadiums and prompt them to spend all day." Braves President Stan Kasten: "I want teens, women and senior citizens, and I want them to stay longer. If there's nothing here for them but baseball, I lose." Tropicana Field, home of the expansion Devil Rays, will offer an area behind the center-field grandstands that features a hair salon, a brew pub, a climbing wall for kids and showroom space for car dealerships. Walker writes, though, that "what troubles some people ... about these stadiums of the future centers on a fundamental issue: The excitement these places generate has less and less to do with sports." Rick Burton, Dir of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the Univ. of OR, said that expensive new facilities "may backfire on teams that fail to produce a winner." Walker concludes that it's "too early to judge the success of most of these flashy new digs, but there are some indicators." For example, four of the five MLB teams with the highest payroll "all moved into new stadiums within the past six years" (Sam Walker, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/27).