Musings on new ballparks and competitiveness

Willie Stargell statue at PNC Park

Back in the 1970s, I figured the surest way to assure your major league ballclub a pennant and victory in the World Series was to build a new stadium. I watched it happen in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with Riverfront Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium, respectively. But baseball is more complex than that, as any number of new baseball palaces have proven.

No doubt Progressive (previously Jacobs) Field signified a resurgence of baseball in Cleveland, but the Indians have still not won the series since 1948. The Giants have had some strong years but no series victory in AT&T (ex-PacBell and SBC) Park. Perhaps they’ll find magic, make the playoffs and triumph this season.

Then there are the Pirates, who with a beautiful new ballpark are mired more than 50 games behind the division-leading Phillies in the National League East. I got a glimpse of the exterior of PNC Park yesterday on a visit to Pittsburgh, and I had just enough time to shoot these photos and a few others of the impressive statues of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente outside the gates.

I’d dearly like the Pirates to succeed, but they are likely doomed to perpetual rebuilding as are so many small- and middle-market franchises. A new stadium is symbolic of a commitment to invest in a team, but as the Buccos and many other teams demonstrate, a commitment does not equate to a world championship.

Roberto Clemente statue at PNC Park

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