NEVER give up on a good idea

I KNEW it!

I KNEW Dr. Sorensen was a man of reason, un’ uomo di rispetto, a man who would not cling to a bad idea in the face of superior alternatives.

Where reason is on your side, there is always hope. Sensible people may scoff at us dreamers, but when the dream makes more sense than the hard facts before you, NEVER give up on the dream.

Yes, I may be pinning a bit much on the USC president’s comments on the radio Friday, which seemed to open the door merely a crack on where USC will put its new baseball park. But now is the time for those who still hope for a better situation for baseball in Columbia — college and minor-league — to put our shoulders to that door and PUSH. Politely, of course.

And yes, other USC officials are still talking about staying the same old obstinate course. But here’s the thing about that: Dr. Sorensen is the man in charge. He has made that clear since the day he arrived on the scene: He will speak for the university, and that includes the independent duchy known as the athletic department. If HE says the school is loosening its grip on a bad idea, it’s time to get excited about the possibilities.

You say this still leaves us a good distance from the ideal — a dual-use (Gamecock and minor league) ballpark down by the river. Does it? Does it really? In truth, it leaves us the merest step from the river, in spite of Chip McKinney’s suggestion that alternatives to the absurd current plan would be closer to the campus, not farther away.

You see, the deal with the Guignard family opened up whole new worlds of possibility. After all, Dr. Sorensen’s vision is for USC’s campus to stretch all the way down to the river, right? What better way to take a great leap forward in that process than to go ahead and build that ballpark right there, on the banks, near the Gervais Street bridge, perhaps? That would immediately lay claim to the riverfront, and make what is now a vision a sudden and dramatic reality. USC would BE on the river, and in a way that could not be missed by anyone.

For Columbia, it would accomplish the rectification of a serious problem with the whole problem of the Vista. We speak of the Congaree Vista, but there are precious few places on the Columbia side from which you can actually see the Congaree. This would immediately open up the river, and it would immediately imbue that riverbank with teeming human activity, as thousands gathered to commune in the glow of the national pasttime.

It’s established that the site USC has been talking about up to now is a very bad idea. The arguments against far outweigh any arguments for. So if the site is moved, why on Earth move back toward the old, the established, the boring? Why not strike out in an inspiring new direction that dramatizes the university’s exciting vision for its future? How could anyone pass up such an opportunity? People say I’m dreaming when I say things like this, but personally, I simply see no alternative. Nothing else makes as much sense as the dream.

And once we put the ballpark where it ought to be, when can take up the matter of who plays there. And we won’t be talking dreams. We’ll be talking about what makes SENSE, in terms of efficient use of the facility and the greater benefit of the entire community.

Never give up on a good idea. Never.

3 thoughts on “NEVER give up on a good idea

  1. Bob Coble

    I would make the following arguments for the USC Stadium in the Vista.
    First, the stadium should be located where students can walk. The Sarg is easily walkable and the Vista location with the Assembly St and Blossom overpasses is also.
    Secondly, the facility should be located where folks can walk to restaurants and other venues to create an economic impact. Clearly the Vista site will do that. Thirdly, I believe a stadium should share parking. A river site will require valuable and strategic property to be used for surface parking (a stadium alone could not justify structured parking-maybe in the future with other development). Clearly between the Koger Center, the Carolina Coliseum, the Colonial Center, the Convention Center, the Hilton Hotel and the other development in the Vista there is a tremendous demand for parking. However, new structured parking (one garage for the hotel and another for the research campus), coordination of events, and mass transit could help produce an acceptable parking solution. Wilbur Smith produced a parking study and the Planning Commission imposed 14 conditions as it related to parking. Fourth, we have established residential development as our top strategic goal for riverfront property. Residential development truly revitalizes our downtown and adds to our tax base. A baseball stadium as a stand-alone and relatively isolated facility would use strategic real estate that would not bring new residents. Finally, I believe that building a new USC stadium for the 2007 season is a valid goal to keep Ray Tanner’s USC Baseball program on it’s upward path. Holding out for perfection i.e. a USC and minor league (perferably Double A) shared facility and writing editorials and sports columns that demand that nothing less than perfection is acceptable, puts off a new stadium, beyond the 2007 season, until a City Council at some point in the future agrees to issue a City backed bond or a minor league team owner agrees to take the financial risks of the minor league team and stadium, and the USC Athletic Department can be comfortable with sharing a stadium with a for-profit entity, and a site can be acquired and parking provided.
    I believe any fair observer would agree that over the last two years I worked harder than anyone else for a shared stadium and was criticized more than anyone else (I “gave in” to Mike McGee and/or I did not force the City Council to vote the shared stadium down) when a shared stadium did not work. I believe that accepting only a “perfect” shared stadium on the river will require more money than anyone is prepared to spend and not be the best strategic location. Just some thoughts.

  2. Lee

    Grow up!
    Real men don’t need someone to provide them with entertainment. They play ball themselves, with each other and with their children.
    If baseball is a good idea, some businessman will build a park and make money of his risk of his money.
    If it is not a good idea, corrupt politicians will be team up with corrupt businessmen to subisidize the risky venture.

  3. Dan

    I agree with the Mayor. If a minor league club wanted to be here, someone would have moved here. When Greenville lost the Braves, the Bombers moved in right away — and competed with others for the right to do so. No one seems to be eager to move into downtown.
    Conversely, a minor league team DOES appear eager to move into Richland County, in the Village of Sandhill. If Alan Kahn wants to bring minor league baseball to Richland County, and has a way to pay for it, why should The State be against it?
    We could end up with a new college ballpark in the City and a new minor league ballpark in the County. That sounds pretty good to me. Especially when we do not have to use any city tax money to make it happen.
    Finally, the Mayor has tried hard to keep baseball here — without giving away the store. He should be commended for that. If it is more profitable for a minor league team to build in the county, then let them. That is their business decision — even if it is not in keeping with what Brad Warthen would ideally like to see. After all, he is not the one putting up the money.

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