Thursday, August 25, 2005

St. Louis Cardinals

My rant today may be, at times, a little negative. But it’s a subject that is close to my heart and I thought I had to voice my opinion.

This year marks the end of two significant and historical eras in St Louis, the end of Busch Memorial Stadium, and the end of the St Louis Cardinals’ relationship with radio “powerhouse” KMOX. Quite a few people are upset, even angry, that both of these events transpired over the course of the last two/three years. I, for all intents and purposes, am not.

How can you ask that?

How can you say you don’t care?

I do care. I have been a devout Cardinal fan for my entire life, as long as I can remember. But I also know that the world of sports, especially in this day and age, is a business. For this blog, I will concentrate on baseball as a business venture and as an entertainment venue.

To brag a little, I have a superior business acumen. Because of that I recognize that baseball is, in the end, a business.

Am I sad and/or upset that they are razing Busch Stadium? Absolutely! I am very sad. So sad I made sure that I took my three-year old twin daughters to a game this year so I can say, and they can say, that they attended a Cardinals game during the last season of Busch.

But it’s a business. They (the Cardinals owners) have to remain competitive, on the field and off. They have to field a baseball team that can win games and, ultimately, the World Series, they also have to be competitive off the field. Sky boxes, shops, restaurants/cafes, kid-friendly attractions, all of these things are needed in this day and age in order to be attractive to families and individuals, both financially and aesthetically.

So to answer your questions dear readers, yes, I am sad and disconcerted that they are razing Busch. I am solaced though in the fact that I have – A. Been to (many, many) games at Busch. B. Have attended a World Series game at Busch (Game 4 in 2004 and hopefully one this year). C. Have taken my daughters to a game at Busch. D. Will make a pilgrimage to St Louis from the Chicago south-suburbs to see them implode it. E. That the Cardinals are trying to go out of Busch in a blaze of glory and winning.

Will the new stadium be as nice as Busch? No one can say until they actually finish it and a game is played there.

Last month, the Cardinals decided to end their 52-year relationship with KMOX and will now have their radio broadcasts provided by KTRS. As part of the deal, the Cardinals are buying 50% of the radio station, and a majority of the station’s programming will revolve around the team.

Experts and pundits that the one big detriment to the switch is that KTRS has a much weaker signal, especially at night, than KMOX. KTRS is (rying to alleviate that by making arrangements with other radio stations to simulcast KTRS’s coverage of the games. KTRS has already made arrangements with WSMI in Litchfield, Illinois to provide wider coverage in that state, and they are looking to add to their 110-station network so that they can cover areas in the Midwest that had relied on KMOX for their broadcast.

Am I sad or upset that they are “abandoning” KMOX? Yes. But again, this is a business. The Yankees (who I despise more than the Cubs) have their own radio station, as do a few other select teams. That way the team has more power and control over what the station does and what their programming is.

A Broadcasting Historian says the move by the Cardinals could be “incredibly stupid.”

Spoken like someone who has not grasped the concept that today’s brand of baseball is not like yesteryears brand of baseball, when all you had to worry about was winning. It’s a business now, and like any business; you have to do what is best for your company’s bottom line. If you don’t, then the company will lose money, which in baseball terms would make it harder to field a winning team. When a team starts to lose, fan attendance starts to drop. When attendance drops, changes start to happen more dramatically. The most dramatic change – change of ownership and moving.

Just ask the Montreal/Puerto Rico Expos, aka, Washington Nationals.