Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Baseball's Giants Are Orphans of Bay Area Oddball Stadium Is Victim, Villain in Long-Running Sports Soap Opera - a Letter from San Francisco

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Baseball's Giants Are Orphans of Bay Area Oddball Stadium Is Victim, Villain in Long-Running Sports Soap Opera - a Letter from San Francisco

Article excerpt

`OPERA in English makes about as much sense as baseball in Italian," wrote the noted curmudgeon, H.L. Mencken, to which cynics in this town have added " ... or in Candlestick Park."

San Francisco baseball great Lefty O'Doul once called the tire-shaped stadium by the Bay "the most absurd place for a ballpark I've ever seen."

This city is once again in a funk over its baseball team and the "cold," "windy," "ill-conceived," "poorly-lit," "hard-to-access" stadium that has kept enough crowds away to sink the team in red ink. Baseball lovers say there are too many night games with too much wind that makes the ball do too many unnatural things - not to mention making crowds uncomfortable.

In mid-June, Giants owner Bob Lurie announced he has no choice but to put the team on the market. Financial World Magazine says the team lost $4.4 million in 1991 and is worth $16 million less than the Oakland Athletics across the bay. They assessed the Giants as worth $99 million, just under the $106 million a group of Japanese investors agreed to pay for the Seattle Mariners - a sale which has brought criticism that the country is selling its soul.

Now the debate from Mission Hill to Chinatown is whether or not San Francisco is selling its soul.

"San Francisco is a major-league city in so many ways {that} it doesn't need a baseball team to help it look that way," says Stephen Kawa, an assistant to City Supervisor Tom Hsieh. "People don't care that much {about keeping the Giants}."

He cites evidence from four recent ballot initiatives in which residents said "no" to providing public funds to build a new stadium in a better location downtown. After three such rejections in San Francisco, San Jose voters also gave a thumbs down in early June.

"Nobody wants to build a stadium for someone who is already one of the richest men in America {Mr. Lurie}," says Glenn Schwartz, sports editor of the San Francisco Examiner. …

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