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Sports Is About Entertainment, Winning, Not a Stadium

August 07, 1994

* It is apparent from reading the various reports related to the Anaheim Stadium renovation that the community's enthusiasm for the teams has clouded the thinking of otherwise rational individuals. Prior to the commitment of any public funds, careful analysis needs to occur to determine what value the community is receiving for its money.

The underlying premise for such new or remodeled facilities is that structural amenities affect the success of a sports franchise. Sports is about entertainment and winning, not amenities. A successful sports franchise begins with ownership committed to winning and some understanding of how to translate that commitment into W's. The San Francisco 49ers won four Super Bowls in what is generally acknowledged as the worst multi-sports facility in the United States--Candlestick Park.

Orange County has been getting the short end of the sports stick. The Los Angeles Rams have shown little interest in Orange County and, worse, an unwillingness or inability to field a winning team. The California Angels claim poverty: that The Cowboy's saddlebags are getting light. We should take a look at the Angels' books and decide if and why they are losing money. Maybe it's because they have not played .500 baseball in four years.

Before county or city governmental entities contemplate spending (or risking through bonds) dime one of taxpayer money for sports franchises, they should obtain a contractual commitment to field winning teams from the benefited teams. If the teams fail to attain a specific winning percentage over a period of time, they should be subject to financial penalties.

If the private sector must have its folly in the name of community boosterism, I urge those individuals and corporations not to leave the business skills that allow them the pleasure of these indulgences at the door. A condition for improved facilities should include the teams putting their respective ownerships in escrow as a guarantee for improved team records.

Lately the fans in Orange County have been fed a steady diet of professional sports mediocrity. The notion that this problem would be solved through improved facilities is nonsense. The Raiders have one of the highest percentages among franchises in sports history, yet they have consistently played in subpar stadiums. If we are going to commit public resources for improved or new stadiums, the community and its fans should get something in return: quality teams.

WILLIAM R. MITCHELL

Newport Beach

* Regarding the efforts of Leigh Steinberg and the "Save the Rams" group, though their intentions are noble, I question if they are really operating with the facts. A new stadium, even for an existing tenant, doesn't guarantee fan support.

Last year, the Atlanta Falcons moved into the new state-of-the-art Georgia Dome, with official capacity at 71,280. The Falcons managed to sell out three of eight regular season home games. The reason: The Falcons had a lousy team and consistently have been poor, much like the Rams.

If the city of Anaheim is truly wanting to help, they should let the Rams leave, get the stadium paid off, make a commitment to the Angels to build a baseball-only facility and make a sweetened offer to bring the Raiders to Anaheim. If any team has the right to complain about their facility, it is the Raiders. Though Al Davis is a pain to deal with, at least he is committed to putting a winning team on the field, something that will never happen with the current Ram ownership.

The bottom line remains the same. Who is running a franchise matters much more than where the franchise is located.

BOB KARGENIAN

Anaheim

* "Anaheim Stadium Is Sadly Out of Date," (Editorial, July 31), says who?

When I go to the ballpark for a day of baseball, hot dogs and peanuts, I can't wait to get past the entrance and miles upon miles of architecture. Pardon me, but people go to cultural centers and various other places to admire mammoth architecture. The ballpark is meant for one reason: playing ball. What's fashionable in stadium trends is hardly what Anaheim should be concerned with. Keeping the teams here is paramount, but making huge structural changes on the whims of owners and politicians is wasteful and unnecessary. Focus on bettering the community, not the concrete.

LOUANNE ZAVALA

Santa Ana

* Re: "Newer Stadiums Leave Anaheim in the Dust" (July 11):

With its unpainted concrete corridors, massive traffic jams and men's room urinal more at home in an outhouse than in near-21st-Century Orange County, demolition of the current stadium structure will prove to be no big loss to anyone. However, we must have sufficient seats in a new stadium to meet the need of future population growth.

The reason so many seats are left vacant now is less lack of potential demand than the poor performance of the teams playing there. I can still recall how difficult it was to get football game tickets until the Rams became the Lambs. Besides, the construction of a new stadium will boost our local economy and will make Anaheim an even more appealing entertainment center.

Judging by the enormous success the Duck Pond has achieved in such a short time, anything less than a spanking new stadium with better quake-resistant designs will be unacceptable.

JOHN T. CHIU

Corona del Mar

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