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ATPM 11.06
June 2005



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The Candy Apple

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

Age Has Its Advantages

I visited an old baseball park last month and will see another one this month. I got to thinking that just because stuff is old does not mean it is useless.

Last month, I saw RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, an arena built in the early 1960s and still doing just fine. I’d been excited about the move of Major League Baseball’s Montréal Expos to the nation’s capital, as they were drawing poorly in Montréal and needed a fresh start. DC had not had a major-league team in three decades and also needed a fresh start, although the Baltimore Orioles are just up the road. So it was a nice convergence of redemption.

The city must have been starved for baseball—attendance has been very nice thus far. It helps that the team flirts with a winning record. It drew more than 120,000 for a weekend series with the Cubs in May, and even midweek numbers are good. The game I saw, on a Wednesday, drew more than 29,000. Those numbers suggest to me that people are not just going to one game. They are going back. That must mean they think the experience is a good one. After my trip, I agree. I would go back, too, if I lived near there. The old place is pretty dark and dingy in the tunnels, but that is part of its charm.

I asked an usher what RFK had been used for before baseball returned. I thought it was an odd concert here or there, since the NFL Redskins moved to a suburb. He said no, they play major-league soccer there all the time. That explained why the place was in such good shape.

I have to say, though, that when the home crowd got excited and started stomping on the platforms, and the entire section shook, I wondered how stable the whole apparatus was. I remembered walking across beams to get to the seating and being able to see how little metal was holding it up. But then I decided they would not be in business if it was unsafe, and I enjoyed the shaking.

In June, I will see Yankee Stadium, if I can get tickets. That one is much older, which is why I want to see it. I appreciate well-made products and well-engineered structures. I like knowing that we can keep using stuff even after its anticipated end-of-life date. That’s part of the reason why I have held on to my G3 tower for so long. It works, and it does what I need it to do. I do not need luxury boxes and fancy club seating. Sure, a laptop would take up less space, and be more portable, but maybe when I am traveling I should not be hauling around my computer anyway. Maybe the point of vacation traveling is to do unusual stuff, not to be online all the time like I am at home.

I shy away from going to movies when I am on vacation. I can go to a movie at home. The point of going somewhere else is to do stuff I can’t do at home. Like visiting new ballparks—and old ones. They all have something to offer, even if they are not brand new. Especially if they are not brand new.


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