POWW! Right in the kisser!

Okay, this is going to be my only post on this topic for two reasons. First, I hate politics and talking about them (perfect for a political science major, right?). Secondly, this topic is being covered extremely well at a multitude of other Web sites, like Aaron Sharockman’s blog at the St. Pete Times site.

But, here goes.

Recently, the Rays have proposed a new waterfront stadium in downtown St. Pete at the site of Al Lang Field, where innumerable baseball greats have played for almost a century. To me, this is an excellent thing. It will get rid of seriously outdated and ugly Tropicana Field and make St. Petersburg a popular destination again. However, there are quite a few dissidents to the idea. The movement against the idea of economic prosperity and all-around awesomeness that will arise from a new stadium is led by a certain group of old farts who will not be alive in a few years when the stadium becomes a reality who call themselves POWW (Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront).

See, all of the members of POWW rely on misinformation and the art of crying loudest about the whole ordeal. Let’s look at some of the silly things they have to say:

They claim that building a new stadium would take money from the pockets of current residents of the county. It won’t. The Rays are fronting much of the money, and the remainder will be paid by existing hotel bed taxes that Pinellas residents do not pay and the sale and development of the land upon which Tropicana Field sits, which borders on slum land at present.

They claim that it is “too darn big.” To support this claim, they show us an image of how big the (awesome looking) stadium would be compared to the Bank of America building. Here it is (notice that there are absolutely no measurements nor sources on this image):

Now, look at a similar image I made, using their outline of the Bank of America building and a scale of 1 foot = 1 pixel (you will have to click to see this image full size):

Yes, it seems that in POWW’s image, the stadium is magically taller than in my measured and sourced image. Curious.

They claim that the whole new stadium would be a traffic and parking nightmare. It won’t be. The Rays have done copious studies and have discovered that there will be plenty of spaces around the stadium. And if we have to walk a few blocks to see the game, what of it? It’s Major League Baseball. Only 29 other cities in America have the privilege to watch this great sport, and I guarantee you that most of them require folks to walk a little bit to get to their stadiums. Lord. Quit your bellyaching, everyone.

As for traffic, has anyone thought that this new stadium will be only 15 blocks away from the current site of the Trop? I don’t know about everyone else’s experiences, but I have absolutely no trouble going to and from a baseball game currently, and I am sure 15 blocks will not suddenly cause me to sit in traffic for hours before and after a game. And even if traffic is worse, I would have no problem with it. Have you ever been to a major city like Chicago or New York during baseball season? Any traffic jams we might have in dinky little St. Petersburg will pale in comparison to the traffic jams baseball fans have been dealing with for a hundred years.

They claim that the new stadium would be bad for business. Yes, I understand fully how building a new stadium on the site of a completely vacant baseball field and attempting to redevelop 86 acres in an area that is in dire need of financial upbringing could be terrible for business. Wait, what?

POWW would like to have us believe that these promises of economic prosperity were made and never delivered upon when the Florida Suncoast Dome (now Tropicana Field) was built in the 1980s. Of course your economic revitalization will fail if you have an empty dome in the middle of the ghetto for half a decade. Jeez.

They claim that there would be terrible environmental damage if the stadium is built, since the plan calls for filling in .6 acres of Tampa Bay and turning it into land upon which the stadium can be built. Now, excuse me here, but Jesus Tapdancing Christ. This is the lamest excuse they have. It’s a little over half of an acre. And to save what? Manatees? Christ. What have manatees ever done for us? Oh, that’s right. Nothing. I’m not even going to go into the ridiculous hippie nature (no pun intended) of this argument. Moving on.

And of course, they claim that there are better alternatives. On their Web site, under this category, they have a photo of some little leaguers. Now, if that isn’t trying to appeal to people’s warm and fuzzy emotions, I don’t know what is. Sure, POWW can throw a bunch of alternatives up on the board that help their cause, but I have yet to see any solid redevelopment plans that go so far as to revitalize a dying cityscape.

Another thing I’m so sick of hearing about is the heat. People whining about the warm weather in Florida. I love it. Listen, Minor League Baseball has existed in Florida for decades upon decades. Those games occur at the same time of day and the same time of year as Major League Baseball games. I have never had a problem with them, and neither have all the folks who go out to see the Clearwater Threshers, Brevard County Manatees, Jacksonville Suns, or any other minor league affiliate in this state. There will be a sail to cut down on sun on particularly hot days and there will be air conditioning in the concourses. Quit your bellyaching. Heck, join me for a Gator game in the middle of September at 12:00 with body paint clogging your pores and sweat glands and then we can talk about heat. Gosh.

The final misconception about the stadium that is really bugging me is the notion that the Rays are threatening to leave the Tampa Bay area if they don’t get their stadium. They are not. Stuart Sternberg has clarified time and time again that they are not using this whole idea to hold the city hostage. They will stay in the Trop for the remainder of their lease (until 2027, I believe). For those that say they will buy out their lease and move elsewhere, where will they go? There is no market as large and potentially profitable as the one here in Tampa Bay. If you add the Orlando TV market, we would have the fourth-largest television market in the Majors. It would make no sense to leave the area. None.

Well, there you have it. All of the misconceptions and my responses thereto. Before this post ends, though, I would like to mention one thing that I found the other day.

The folks who want to “Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront” have a page on their Web site about “Secrecy and Fairness.” I think this is ironic, because of the images located on their “About POWW!” page.

There, they have a photo of the Al Lang site as it is now, with green grass and water in the background. Below it, an image of the proposed stadium, which they credit to the Rays’ Web site. This is all well and good, but something struck me about the second image.

I opened it in Photoshop, and I opened the original Rays image. I was astonished to find two things:
1. The POWW image is 8 pixels narrower than the original image from the Rays. Is this a subtle way to highlight the height of the stadium (which, I might add, was misrepresented, as you saw earlier in this post).
2. Even worse, POWW actually darkened the original photo. Darker Skies, dimmer water, everything. Any high school journalism student could tell you that this is the pinnacle of unethical photo editing. I emailed the good folks at POWW about it (to their “Invite Us to Speak” email, since they have no other way to electronically correspond), and I have yet to get a response. As of today, the image is still up on their Web site.

Here are the two images (click the thumbnail for a larger version):

It’s interesting that a group so adamantly against the stadium that relies on “fact” would have to go so far as to subtly brainwash the public into thinking that the Rays proposal would be so terrible. They rely heavily on misinformation, conjecture, and unethical behavior.

Heck, I could yell really loud and be right, too.

There are 7 comments. Such a lively discussion!

  1. Dan spoke up on June 4, 2008.

    As long as there will be miniature pizzas served at this new stadium, I am all for it.

  2. steve spoke up on June 19, 2008.

    Wow, MAJOR props to you on this article…I really couldn’t have said any of this better myself. I knew that the folks at POWW were douchebags, I just didn’t realize to what extent. Keep up the good work!

    Build it!!!

  3. Justin spoke up on June 23, 2008.

    I hate POWW too, although I think the things you point out are a little silly (they’re photo is a little darker than the Rays’ photo, really? that’s your gripe? and in their rendering the mast is slightly taller, by like 10 feet, than in yours, wow).

    That said, POWW does suck.

    But you know what? So does this stadium scheme.

    I will vote NO no matter what POWW does.

    If there was a “HELL NO” option I would choose that instead.

    But keep up the good “investigative journalism.” You really exposed a grave injustice on this one, yeah.

  4. Casey spoke up on June 24, 2008.

    Yes, their image is darker than the original. Meaning that POWW maliciously opened this file in a photo editing program and literally fiddled with the levels. Then, they credited that image to the Tampa Bay Rays. This is unethical, and for a group so focused on fairness issues with the proposed stadium, I find any lapse of ethics – big or small – laughable.

    Vote how you like, but don’t brush aside the subtle influences POWW is trying to pass off onto the unsuspecting (read: uninformed) public.

    Further, at no point in this blog entry have I claimed to be an investigative journalist. I’m a guy with a blog who is throwing around some things I’ve noticed in my trek around the Internet.

    But your sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed. Thanks, fella.

  5. Tampa Is…? » Blog Archive » stadium delayed, a blog feud, and some actual baseball spoke up on June 25, 2008.

    [...] a bit of misinformation by POWW, the group opposed to the new stadium. It appears that the POWW altered the image of the new stadium to make it look larger that it would really be. The POWW has consistently played fast and loose [...]

  6. Justin spoke up on June 28, 2008.

    Let us vote…

    Er, wait….

    Rays? Not letting us vote? But why? Oh wait, now I remember….

    Damn you POWW!!! Your slight photo desaturation and 10 foot miscalculation have caused the Rays to abandon their wonderful, selfless plan and now you’ve ruined our city forever.

    Please save us SCB!

  7. Casey spoke up on June 28, 2008.

    They haven’t abandoned it – they are waiting until the misinformation about the project has died down and the Rays have proven themselves in the coming years.

    Again, your sarcasm is entirely constructive and wonderfully conceived. Thanks for that.

    Like I said, you can feel how you like about the stadium. My entire purpose in writing this article was to highlight the unethical practices of POWW in distributing misinformation to the unenlightened masses of St. Petersburg, not to convince people about the idea of the stadium itself.

    While the photo manipulation of POWW did not lead to the failure of the November initiative, it did speak volumes about the kind of classless people that comprise the organization. I have noted this multiple times, but you have yet to understand it.

    And, by the way, there is no reason to act like a dick to me. I have handled your observations with nothing less than class and dignity. Thanks.

Sorry, but comments are closed. Some things are best said in a vacuum.

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