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12.23.2003

Private Stadium in St. Louis

The Cardinals just announced they've completed funding for a privately-financed downtown stadium in St. Louis that's scheduled to open in 2006.

Like the Giants, the Cards will own their stadium. No word yet on what this means for team payroll. Despite four years of record attendance, the Giants say they must reduce paroll this year because of the debt service on Pac Bell Park, reported to be around $20 million a year. St. Louis has a rabid fan base that no doubt will sell out the new park and buy expensive Cardinals merchandise, not to mention eat and drink record amounts of beer and hot dogs. Will the Cards, too, have to cry poor?

What's a fan to do? Cheer your team for building its own park without leeching public funds, and your team then cries poor because of the crushing debt. St. Louis will be a very interesting test case to see if a team can afford to build its own stadium and pay top dollar for talent.

After seeing the fiasco of publicly-funded stadiums having no effect on team quality in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, I'm still grateful that Peter Magowan & Co. didn't put the S.F. taxpayers through that wringer. (If you haven't caught up on the latest news out of Milwaukee, you really should.)

Finally, a reality check for a bitter fan: it's not as if the Giants have been totally hamstrung by their debt. Since Pac Bell opened, they've won 381 games in 4 seasons -- only the Mariners (393), A's (392), Yankees (386), and Braves (385) have won more over the same span. They've made the playoffs three of four years and come within eight outs of winning the World Series.





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