Take us out to the ballgame
March 1, 2010
Who cares if that's a cold March wind out there? The bobsleds and skates have been put away for four years and now the boys of summer are ready to crank it up around the state.
It's baseball time in Florida and that only can mean one thing: It's time to talk about building another stadium.
Of course, the truth is we always are talking about building another arena. It's so good for the economy.
We've built so many jock palaces in recent years that we all should be driving Hummers home to our McMansions in Avila. Wonder why that's not happening?
Right now the talk is about maybe putting up a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in Hillsborough County, which is going over so well that Pinellas County is considering banning all Hillsborough County residents from using their beaches.
I think it's time to bring Socrates Babacus back in to the picture. You remember Socco, don't you? A decade ago, the fast-talking wheeler-dealer bounced around here (and the rest of the country) promising he was ready to finance a new domed stadium. Somehow it never quite happened.
The Monday wash
My former boss and sports editor Frank Klein used to call the letters from readers the "Monday wash and other mentionables." Some of your mentionables this week were about a survey in Forbes magazine claiming Tampa was the most congested city in the country.
•Jim Harkins in south Hillsborough writes: "Yeah you put your finger in the open wound, the incoherency of the Board of County Commissioner mandarins to inaugurate a 25-year transportation plan - for the entire county - based on the demographics of the 2010 census ... Keep the boiling pot stirred - and someday visit South County, where are two rail lines (Ruskin and Wimauma) for light rail that can go to Tampa via Brandon - but then again, the Crosstown Lee Roy Selmon Expressway would lose revenue and it's all about money, isn't it?"
•By e-mail, "magick727" wrote: "Yup, so on Friday Forbes listed us as the worst commute in the U.S. On Monday state troopers ran speed traps along I-275, I-4 and I-75 which effectively ground traffic to a halt and added 50 minutes to my usual one-hour, 15-minute trip. An isolated speed trap here and there does not significantly disrupt traffic, however full saturation during rush hour on a Monday was unnecessary, poorly timed and the cost can be measured in the millions."
•"lockenigma" e-mailed: "Steve, I agree that highway traffic is worse in some larger cities, but in addition to bad traffic and insane drivers, we also lack other realistic options. In D.C. you can take the Metro train; in Atlanta you take MARTA; even in L.A. you have options to take the train in...
"What do we have in Tampa? The HART express park-and-ride system? The problem with that, despite the fact that it runs infrequently, is that it's at the mercy of the same traffic that individuals face. ... It's no wonder Tampa's 'No. 1.' Your options are traffic, traffic and traffic. People in Tampa are resistant to any rail or public transit options as 'expensive,' but how much do constant gridlock and highway expansions cost us?"