Venue News & Notes: Meadowlands Must Be Switzerland

They do not speak German, French, and Italian at the obsessively gray stadium in the swamplands. The sections are not divided into cantons (not a bad idea, actually). And the stadium is not a repository for international bank accounts — unless one counts the personal-seat-license money the patrons will fork over for the privilege of buying tickets. But, in one important way, the new place does resemble a certain nation known for its neutrality. “We need to be Switzerland,” said Mark Lamping, president of what is still — lacking a corporation willing to spring for naming rights — New Meadowlands Stadium. Management has been careful to please both tenants, who on Monday night held the first football game ever played here, a 31-16 victory by the Giants over the Jets in their intentionally neutral shared stadium…

…Winter moved conspicuously closer this week, as the Toronto City executive committee endorsed the design of a new stacked hockey arena and resolved to save two city-owned ski hills. At issue in both cases is how much money the city is willing to pour into supporting amateur sports. The proposed eight-storey arena with four NHL-sized ice pads stacked on top of each other in the Port Lands is meant to address a dearth of ice time in Toronto and comes with an $88-million price tag. That is $17 million more than a sprawling snowflake-shaped four-pad complex that was originally on the table and roundly maligned by the design community as a waste of waterfront space. It is also much more money than the city has…

…By the start of the 2012 season, TCU’s antiquated Amon G. Carter Stadium will finally join coach Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs in the modern era. TCU announced this week an eagerly awaited and much-needed $105 million renovation of the west side and north end zone that will transform the 80-year-old stadium into, as TCU puts it, “the Camden Yards of collegiate football stadiums.” The project, fully funded by 34 donors, will begin immediately following TCU’s final home game on Nov. 13 and will be completed for the start of the 2012 football season, “when Oklahoma, Virginia, and BYU come to town,” Patterson said. “The day after our last ballgame, we’re going to get ready to go. I don’t think you’ll see it come down slowly…”

…Birmingham, AL’s Rickwood Field, which will be 100 years old this week, has been able to escape a wrecking ball and become a shrine as America’s oldest baseball park. There is nothing that moves the thrill meter for a baseball fan the way walking the path trod by baseball gods does. Dizzy Dean pitched in Rickwood. Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron played there. Satchel Paige twirled from the mound. It is still possible to roam where Willie Mays roamed as a teenage center fielder because some local baseball fans organized in 1992 to become the Friends of Rickwood. When the minor league Birmingham Barons moved out in 1987 for a newer park in the suburbs, Rickwood seemed doomed like so many other ballparks of its era.

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