Saturday, September 27, 2003

Selling the Vet

Yes, it's sound business, but there's something unseemly about how the Phillies will begin stripping Veterans Stadium just after tomorrow's game as if it were a recently boosted Accord spirited away to a chop shop. The Phils have every right to make a buck, especially if they're on the hook for the cost of imploding the Vet and clearing the rubble. But the amount of public money that is funding the construction of Citizens Bank Park makes the whole thing feel kind of grubby.

In fact, if you widen the scope to the way the team has been talking up the place, knowing there's some scratch to be had, it becomes downright insulting. The Phillies spent a lot of time and money telling anyone who would listen what a lousy place Veterans Stadium was to play baseball. But once they finally secured a deal to build their new ballpark, all of the sudden the Vet was something to be treasured. The Phils made Dan Baker, the public address announcer, welcome fans to "beautiful" Veterans Stadium before the start of every game; they milked every last bit of nostalgia out of a place they frequently derided as inadequate in every respect; and now they will sell off everything -- including the kitchen sinks -- while funneling only a portion of the proceeds to charity.

One wishes management had applied this business acumen to the running of a professional baseball franchise over the last 20 years. Perhaps then we fans would have enjoyed more than one playoff appearance in that span.


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