With a change of sports venue

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Welcome to my first new Rox Blox posts of the 2012 year. Trying to come up with a good post, since the year is relatively new, and then I realized there’s another baseball-related event happening this week. On January 2nd, in Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park, there is a game happening.

Whose House? Our House!

This is really front-page news, though the biggest winner is the fan. It’s not every day that a sports venue hosts a sport it was not originally designed to host. This is especially true considering that the (now) Miami Marlins are moving out of their old (insert name and pay $20,000) stadium which was originally built for the Miami Dolphins. The biggest complaints included the line of sight for some seats were unsuitable. There were other concerns, but now that the Fish have their new stadium opening in time for next year, Coors Field is now the 3rd oldest ballpark (??) in the National League. The Twins moving out of the Metrodome to Target Field, in addition to Miami now leaves the MLB separated from the NFL in a movement that reversed the general multi-purpose stadiums of the 1950s, save for one. Trivia question: Which is the last venue shared by a NFL and MLB team? (Answer is at the end). The multi-purpose arenas, combining basketball and hockey is another story.

So it shows as a surprise when Citizen’s Bank ballpark, home of the Philadelphia Phillies is hosting the NHL winter classic on January 2nd. The Flyers have their own home at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. So why a game outdoors?

Hockey has been traditionally viewed as an outdoor sport since it requires skating on ice. And the NHL was originally conceived in Canada being a major sport in that country. But, like everything else, it expanded, stabilized itself, and moved indoors. And with the indoors, it was able to eventually expand to the southern portion of the 50 states. A lot of old tradition was lost.

2003 brought back a renaissance in Edmonton with the Heritage classic. A regular-season NHL game would be played outdoors. The NHL liked the idea and expanded it in 2008 in what would be called the “NHL Winter Classic”. First held in Buffalo at the Bills’ NFL stadium, it has continued in tradition in NFL stadiums and MLB ballparks, including classic Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. The first year was a huge success, drawing over 70,000 people–more than what any regular NHL arena could attract in a game. Other venues have voiced interest in hosting the NHL Winter classic. It’s like a prestige to hold a special yearly event, similar to the All-Star game, Super bowl or even the Olympics.

So why did the multi-purpose stadiums fall out of favor? For one thing, different sports have different views. Why the Marlins moved out was that Joe Robbie Stadium, as it was built, was conceived to host a NFL team and a future MLB team without too many changes. But the seats were designed to see from the football 50 yard line, making some seats unsellable for MLB games. (There are other problems with the Marlins not selling games that are beyond the content of this blog post.) Then there were stadiums like Mile High (I miss it) that were multi-purpose, but shifted their seats to make it possible. As sports became a bigger part of life, and the money rolled, many teams saw the benefits of having a venue customized for their specific needs. For football, more luxury boxes. For baseball, it was more that the ballpark would fit in snugly, and retain some of baseball’s past (for example, a manual scoreboard, or other baseball quirks.) This is partially why I desire the NHL winter classic at a ballpark less so: the seats are less-than-ideal for the action. But for it being one time a year, it’s not bad.

However, the reason for the Winter classic being outdoors has its advantages. First off, it’s a change of venue–literally. Instead of being in an arena enclosed in with other people in a tight space, it’s out in the open. Also, the return of possibly fighting the elements (as some Winter Classic games have shown) is an appeal. It brings it back in line with football (and less so baseball) with the conditioning for the weather. And also, it allows more people to see the game. For an annual event, it’s a win-win for the NHL and its fans. Now, let’s rock this roof— er game off. :)

This post brought to you thanks to a few friends: Matthew @brosanta, Katie @ellisfan14, Mark @townie813, Sackor @supahfly328 and @fiyahpowah

From the clubhouse

Not a whole lot of baseball news, but with the Michael Cuddyer @mcuddy3 and the Beltran signings, I think the Rockies got the better of the two deals. Cuddyer was a bit cheaper, and he has a better attitude. Plus every time someone shortens his last name (as a nickname) to Cuddy, I think of the comfort under a blanket. Nice place to be in bed, comfortable… aaaah! :) I’m hoping that this month, we can stabilize our pitching rotation.

Under further review

“Truly underwhelming excitement for the end of the #NFL regular season.” -@brosanta original tweet
Great words to describe the Broncos, and the NFL, which was the complete opposite of the MLB in 2011. Don’t worry, the Broncos, despite losing 7-3 in a snoozer and making the playoffs, will lose next week, and the season will be over.

This is late, though I was just informed by Nathan @lecroy24fan that Comcast/NBC blocked out the ability to DVR the winter classic. I mean, WTF? This is beyond stupid. I think a boycott on Comcast should be in order.

And the answer to the above: Oakland Coliseum is the last outdoor multipurpose stadium hosting 2 teams: The Oakland Raiders, and the Athletics. Indoor Arenas do not count, as they usually host basketball and hockey under one roof. And for purposes of this argument, we got into a discussion on what qualifies. Thanks to everyone above, though it has to consider professional sports of significance. The fan attendance drops significantly below soccer, and collegiate sports are considered amateur or farm team events.

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