SBD/27/Facilities Venues

WITH NEW STADIUMS, HAVE GAMES BECOME MORE CIRCUS THAN SHOW?

          "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).     
      
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