Passions, Preserving, Places to Play

Oh how I love these kind of discussions. Late last week, OFSIL, OFNi, and I exchanged commentary on sports venue histories, traditions, and personal perspectives. Realize that OFNi is still relatively young amongst the professional ranks but she has an obvious passion and definite opinion towards this subject(s). Now getting it out of her can be another story, sometimes. With this exchange she opened up a bit and showed me why I become more proud of her every day, and honored to call her OFNi. It goes without saying OFSIL (aka Mom) is more-so more-proud as she develops into a marvelous young lady, displaying her talent professionally, showcasing her passion, and exercising the expensive out-of-pocket education to the rest of our family, and perhaps to her very own colleagues (if she and Mom so chose to do so).

Below is the exchange. This all started with an OFSIL email to her circle of “others” regarding a CNN report on “great basketball towns”. I will stop short of an animated opinion of CNN so as not to diminish the value of content presented here, but know similar sports websites have published a very similar ranking in the past and I have yet to dispute their subject matter claims. What started out as a “yeah Allen Field House and KU” shared e-story evolved into a philosophical, psychological, and sociological discussion. Now that’s what I want this blog to really talk about – not KU, but “what’s up with that” type topics! (how ’bout a blog discussion on why our idiot politicians think it their responsibility to decide/mandate a college football playoff. Don’t even get me started with that one…yet, here, now).

I’m sharing the exchange knowing OFSIL will love it, but unsure of OFNi’s reaction. Why OFB (aka Dad) wasn’t included in last week’s exchange, don’t know. I’m sure he has been told of it by now however. I know he is equally proud of his daughter, and has never been one to shy away from an opinionated statement or two…or three. Maybe we just didn’t want to interrupt his personal quest to get the U.S. out of this recession. The family knows with this posting his “catch up” can be done during his leisure time. And we still expect the “slow-day-at-work” rhetorical question of all of us following his real topic-related response…not even Little Big Bro!

I look forward to your comments. Please tolerate the removal of personal names in the exchange in order to protect the opinionated. If you want to be known, or claim the opinion, you will have to do so through the “comments” process of blogging. This is lengthy I know (go get a fresh cup of coffee before diving in), but I hope you enjoy, or at the very least appreciate the spirited exchange.

From: OFSIL 
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 8:17 AM
To: “others”
Subject: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

Awesome article and picture!  Rock Chalk Jayhawk, and Lawrence, too!!!!  :o)  bec

Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2009 13:35:30 -0500
From: Tmay82
To: “reply to all”

Damn Wildcats ruined their chances – ever – of a story line like that when the built that burp-of-a-court Bramledge – GLAD I GOT TO EXPERIENCE 4 YEARS OF JACK HARTMAN (RIP), A SIMILAR HISTORY, AND “FAN ATMOSPHERE” AT AHEARN FIELDHOUSE IN THE LITTLE APPLE!  Need I mention attending a concert or two in Ahearn as well?

Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:12 PM
To: Tmay82
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

yeh – they don’t build ’em like Ahern and Allen anymore.  there is not one person in lawrence nor one jayhawk fan that would ever allow them to take down allen fieldhouse.  next time you come to lawrence for a drink (or two) i want to take you to the booth family hall of fame at allen fieldhouse – you will get such a sense of history that even a wildcat could appreciate.  seriously!!!  :o)  bec 
p.s. no need to mention a concert at ahearn – i’ll never forget my one and only concert with you!

From: Tmay82 
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:28 PM
Cc: OFNi
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

I hope Hawkers everywhere never let them money-hungry athletic directors bastardize Allen either – like they did Ahearn. They’ve cut up Ahearn so much they might just as well knocked it over. I think they still play women’s volleyball in the southeast corner of Ahearn’s old b-ball court.

Where’s OFNi? Historic building preservation soapboxes need to be stood upon, regardless of university affiliations and loyalties.

For the record, I voted “NO” as a K-State student, knowing full well I wouldn’t be paying for it with student fees in the future, for Bramledge. There was a small, but vocal, contingent of Ahearn preservationists during that time that I may have just “happened upon” a rally or two…I conveniently don’t rightly remember my rebellious past well…sometimes. I may be confusing those rallies with heckling events on the student union plaza directed toward Iranian students protesting The Shah at the time. Egads I’m old.

Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 3:00 PM
To: Tmay82
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

Just the use of the word “egads” dates you, TWM.  I’m telling you, if there was ever to be a discussion of razing Allen Fieldhouse, this town would burn on a much grander scale than when William Quantrill and his Misery bandits burned our burg in the 1860s.  BASTARDS!!!  Anywho – no one no how will ever touch that old barn and its history!  For me, it’s like spending those seventeen days in Europe with _______, exploring true history, culture, architecture, religion, and the respect for what got us to where we are today.  In my opinion, Americans, as a whole, do not value true history – it’s easier to tear down, throw away, buy new, build new, than to appreciate and respect our heritage.  EGADS, I’m old! 

 From: OFNi
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 4:47 PM
To: Tmay82; OFSIL
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

I would love to give my opinion on this matter…..but honestly, I don’t really know what you’re talking about! 

I don’t know anything about Ahern…..but from what I’ve gathered in these emails is that Ahern was/is to K-Staters what Allen FH is to Jayhawkers.  So from that I can understand your anger…(deleted statement).  Our office had been doing some work to Bramledge…..but I think it’s been suspended till further notice.

Well, that’s all I got.

From: Tmay82
Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 12:01 PM
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

Girl friend…

You’ve got ______ blood in you for crying out loud. You really don’t need to know what we’re talking about to render an opinion in this family…come on now, work with us – we need to get you into blogshape here.

And yes, Ahearn was K-Stater’s Allen FH.  Hey! Why do they call Allen Field House, and did call Ahearn, a “Field House”? (Campus maps now call Ahearn Field House a “Gymnasium” – George W. Bush can certainly relate to that kind of demotion). Ahearn could seat nearly 12,000 people – Bramledge does ±13,500…to this day I still sits and sometimes just think “why would you do that? Replace an iconic building with tradition of historic basketball proportions with spit and polish, and not substantially increase seating capacity”. And we stick the “spit and polish” out on the north side of campus, away from the student housing making walking to games in the winter like doing the Alaskan Iditarod, and overlooking a questionably attractive football stadium with an all-inclusive name that takes up two lines on their web page (check out opening web page BTW – ummmmm).  We were stupid then just like we can be today…….see how you are…get me started…..

If your office and/or KSU client needs an outside, professional opinion, with some alumni relevance I might add, on what to do with Bramledge once it starts back up…please call. This one man’s blog-worthy opinion would be free of charge 

From: OFNi 
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 11:26 AM
To: Tmay82
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

Well I like to be informed about what I’m talkin’ about : )  But from now on I’ll try to B.S. The-_____-Way!!  Yeah!

First, no one in the country should try and compare their facility to Allen Field House….because they will truly be disappointed in the outcome.  Allen FH has all the factors that contribute to a great atmosphere – tradition, loyal fans, intimate seating (by this I mean there really are no nose-bleeds), subtle upgrades, etc.

And the dispute you mention of new versus old at KSU just gets me thinking about Yankee Stadium.  I am not a loyal New Yorker or a loyal Yankees fan….but I think that Yankee Stadium (the old and soon to be demolished stadium) – the house that Babe Ruth built – has that rich tradition and comfy feel that so many people flock to.  Now, it may not be the fanciest or the most user friendly place (personal experience!)……but then again that’s New York : )  It is why so many NYC-er’s are either pissed or sad that the Yankees will have a new, state-of-the-art facility to call home.  It’s  going to be one hell of a stadium….all the bells and whistles one could imagine…….but it’s new.  And it doesn’t have those smells or scares.  I think that’s one of the most challenging things about the design……trying to replace something like the old Yankee Stadium… it even possible?  And how could someone duplicate such an atmosphere in a new building?  But hey, the big dogs in NYC wanted something new and that’s what the fans are getting : )

Ok, I’m done.

Thanks for reading.

Till next time.


From: Tmay82
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 1:30 PM
To: ‘OFNi’
Subject: RE: Article on college basketball and Lawrence

Atta Girl! See how you are? No B.S. required with this topic…we just gotta get you riled a bit and let it floooooooooow right out of you. It would seem that a password to become “one favorite contributing editor” (that would be an OFCE in blogese), although I might need to edit the word “pissed” but then no maybe not in the context you’ve used it, of may be in order – how ’bout that?

Although I’ve never had the game experience of Allen FH, Ahearn had its own personality probably much different than Allen, but unique and attractive to the K-State experience of “old” none the less. I encourage you, being in the sports venue industry, to experience historic stadiums/field houses in as many places as you can. Doing so (experiencing venue history, traditions, etc.) can/will only make you a better designer and a more valued architect to the firm…buy a ticket and note the fan relationships with their venues. (I will go with you…I’d get to spend time with OFNi and to also allow this discussion’s continuation). It is sad that politicians, owners, and athletic directors cannot see beyond their dollar bill noses when it comes to their own “house that Ruth built” and disregard the preservation of team/community history and intimacy of places of play.

You speak of Yankee Stadium, and do it well girl friend! But don’t stop there. Think of the history we’ve already lost – just in baseball: Comiskey Park, Cleveland Municipal, Astrodome, Arlington (ugly BTW), KC Municipal Stadium, Tiger Stadium, Riverfront, Three Rivers, Polo Grounds, Memorial Stadium (Baltimore). Combine the loss of history/tradition with the “juicing”, scandals, MLB has lost a generational fan base, and may take another (generation) before today’s venues have a chance of developing any kind of “charm” – the psychological “flock” factor you reference. No longer does the Dad take the Son to the game. No longer does the ballpark serve as an all-day Saturday family event. No longer do kids risk truancy punishment just to take in an afternoon spring game. Tom Hicks has tried to recapture that fan experience with his Triple AAA Rangers team facility (the Frisco Roughriders) and the Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington to a certain extent. Baltimore’s Camden Yard has been somewhat successful, as has Cleveland’s stadium. I hope the new Yankee Stadium succeeds in paying respect to and accepting responsibility for the history they are pushing away.

I only hope I’m long gone when they bulldoze Fenway – oh my.

Next discussion topic: the selling of naming “rights” for athletic venues. Talk about losing charm, history, tradition, and whatever else – “yes siree, I spent the day at Applebee’s Stadium, had to park in the Dawn Dish Detergent parking lot and take the Brillo Pad shuttle to the AT&T drop station outside the stadium at the Acme Brick plaza. I then went through the Dr. Pepper ticket gate and took the official Chase Bank elevator to the Southwest Airlines mezzanine, stopped and peed in the Johnson’s Urinal Cake bathroom before getting seated in the Armor Hot Dog Section, French’s Mustard Row, Seat 2”. I’m equally passionate about this topic…just to forewarn you. Did I tell you I’ve coined the name for the new $1 billion Dallas Cowboys stadium as being “Felon Field at Penitentiary Park”? Still looking for corporate sponsors of those names….

That’s all I’ve got. I need to get some work done today (your Dad would be so proud of that)

I’m done for now.

10 thoughts on “Passions, Preserving, Places to Play

  1. Oh, Tim!! I am crying and laughing at the same time! I loved reading through our “conversation” again, and delight in the sense of history, humanity, and family. Our baby girl, your OFNi and my FD, is “all growed up”! She can hold her own, very impressively I might add in the above blog, in conversations involving her expertise – much like her OFU in Dallas. I look forward to many conversations such as the one that started with the glories of Allen Field House and Lawrence. Keep ’em coming! And don’t forget … that backpacking trip is coming up soon – plenty of blog material awaiting the hikers! :o) becky


  2. Why I was left out of this exchange remains a mystery, yet I have spent this cold, windy Sunday evening catching up with OFB blogs and you guessed right. I am going to render an opion!

    First, let’s discuss Ahern. What a wonderful place it once was. The storied history of K-State basketball and the rivalry of KU vs KSU. The two facilites (Allen and Ahern) were more less an automatic win for the HOME team. But, like it or not, big time athletics is what drives enrollment for the school and income for the cities in which they are located. KSU fottball is a prime example! And it can come back and bite you in the butt. The only other Big 8 + 4 school I can think of that kept there past facility with phenominal upgrades is Oklahoma State. I will always cherish the memories of Ahern – Billy Joel concert, running indoor track meets, and Jack Hartman. Loved that guy! Got to sit behind him and the KSU bench at the old Pre Season Big 8 basketball tournament in KC. Dating myself here!

    Now for MLB and their facilities. Baseball is probably my true passion. Love this sport and loved playing it growing up. I used to take my transitor radio with the ear piece to school so I could listen to the World Series games. They were played during the day time back then. Didn’t have lights! Dating myself , again!

    “Times are a changing. ” Ball players are making millions (without any judgement crap from Obama, I might add) and put on such a high pedestal to perform that they have resorted to tactics to help maintain levels of success. The Players Union is as much to blame (“Unions” is another topic!) by allowing no regulation, or testing, or consequences for their actions. Sorry, I got lost here. Let’s get to facilities.

    Yankee Stadium will be a huge hit. Mixing history with new is what it’s all about. Allowing more people to see games and enjoy “America’s pastime” will only bring back the glory days of enjoying the day at the park with your son/daughter and /or family. I have not had the opportunity to see Fenway, but I will before a new stadium is built. I have had the opportunity to visit Wrigley and the old Yankee Stadium and would be thrilled if a “New” Wrigley was built. I would just ask that it be in the same location. These facilities can be upgraded without losing the charm.

    Need to stop. I think I have rambled and not said much, but I do have a lot more to say! Things are ever changing. As we get older, I find it harder to accept these changes. But it is usually a good thing!

    I think you all know what “change” (i.e. HOPE) that I DO NOT think is good! : )


  3. Nice bloggin’ Mays : ) Thanks for posting OFU.

    I would have to agree with you, OFD, that facilities can be upgraded or replaced without losing (all) of their charm. Facilities are like people…..they can’t live forever…..and sometimes they need expensive surgery to look better. And eventually they just can’t stand up anymore : ( Which is why I have a job!!

    I can’t decide if I would want the challenge of replacing Allen FH or not……I can just hear the criticism now……and it’s scary. But I don’t think I could turn it down either.

    OFU – I really enjoyed your take on naming rights! I think I’ve take the Brillo Pad Shuttle somewhere : )

    BTW, OFD, I am not sure I know what “change/hope” you do not enjoy…..please elaborate : )


  4. FD, you KNOW what my take on “change/hope is! We will let it rest, like Old Yankee Stadium.

    Got work to do…….


  5. OFB & OFni: now you two let’s try to keep the partisan politics out of this posting.

    You bet facilities get tired but that is a puny reason to abandon in the typical way we Americans do? Many facilities in the nation’s capital are still in use today and are much older than any one baseball or college basketball facility. Building and places of people in Europe, older than the U.S. itself, are still in use today. It takes a lot of wear and neglect to make a place tired. It is a mind set of respect and appreciation for history. Take care and upgrade those historic places of play, but do not insult me with moving an outfield plaque or two, relocating a banner in the rafters, or salvage some other piece of venue history, and then call it preservation or a successful mixing of old and new. Not gonna buy it – didn’t even order it.

    Expensive surgery is OK on these places, but please keep the scapel out of the hands of team owners, bankers, athletic directors, corporate sponsors, and demanding athletes. I’m going to trust OFNi will become quite the surgeon.

    And OFB, I trust you were not making excuses for today’s MLB players resorting to drastic measures to perform and then gauge athletic success. I’ve stayed away from MLB for many years, for many reasons. Juicing has tainted baseball’s reputation, as has the greed of owners and players. The time has past for America’s Pastime – it’s now a matter of whether today’s partcipants can sprint to catch up with that passing, without having to stop for a “shot in the arm”, or be blinded by the glare coming off shiny new stadiums.

    I will always love the old places of play and scoof at the new ones lacking charm and personality. And I refuse to forget that Earl Weaver used to garden in Baltimore’s old park…growing tomatoes behind his bullpen…that was along the foul line fence in the outfield…and his relief pitchers warming up sometimes had to field a foul ball or two. Think any of that would be done today? So much for charm….

    As for age and change – I’ll let computers, software, and automobiles change as I age. Nothing wrong with the fancy new look-Ma-no-hands flushing toilets grace the restrooms at the old ball park, I still want to sing “take me out to the ball game” during the 7th inning stretch…cracker jacks and all, and have it mean something.


  6. OK. Going to jot down a few random thoughts.

    We are going to have keep Athletic and “Historic” facilities seperate. Sorry! I understand the history value of the buildings in which our Founding Fathers molded this great country. They should be and will always be maintained as close to their original condition. Educational value there!

    The buildings in Europe will always be maintained also, those Archy students have to study them! Tourist industry is very important. Be prepared though, Venice is sinking.

    Antiques??????? Some like them, some don’t.

    I will never make excuses for “juicing”. But keep in mind it was not banned by MLB. There are more players who have not than have.

    Would love the fact that current ballparks could be updated. Nothing wrong with going to a modern, nice smelling park and giving more people the opportunity to see a game.

    I’m tired, think I’ll go home now. More to come!


  7. Go home OFB and rest well. That depreviation may have tainted your perspective a bit. You cannot separate the Athletic from Historic because so many “athletics” used to be “historic”…before they started knocking them down. My point is, like the nation’s capital and like the archy buildings in Europe, sports venues (at least those with any kind of age on them) welcome millions of people to a “place”, regardless of its purpose or function. The purpose/function of the “place” is as much a part of the experience as the facility. Ideally, we have got to preserve the place as much as we need to provide for the people. That too is educational, all the while being touristy. “Old”, “antique” sports place to play is all that and more: educational, touristy, and take in a ballgame.

    Now here’s a soapbox: We can’t treat all of our history and hertitage for short-term personal benefit and gain. We have to provide history and hertitage for future generations just like the Babe Ruth’s and Wilt Chamberlain’s did for us. It is the non-visionary thinking that has gotten into this non-conservation, self-satisfaction, use-it-all-up-now-and-figure-out-what-to-do-later mentaliity that caused our recent political “change” and economy to tank. Geez, somebody stop me…I’m smoking (and it does have writing on the side BTW)! Just think OFB, had we had a bit of foresight a decade ago in preserving and protecting our history, heritage, people places, politics, and economy, the current resident occupying the historic Washington D.C. buidling right now may have been nothing more than a good speaker at an unsuccessful political convention. Now see what you’ve done? I’ve gotten way too political and have forgotten my own history in scolding you and OFNi, “don’t do that”.

    Now I’m done…I’m going to go sit in my creaky old desk chair I bought at auction from a century-old company that went out of business (because they changed their business model and tried to update something successful with something a fresh and shiny looking). I like it alot.


  8. My dear Holy Crapper (on Good Friday I might add…and let’s see, that would be OFHCSIL )…And you think I have a clue? I’m just saying this to poke a stick in OFB and OFNi’s side. It is rather interesting that OFNi has backed off this dialogue, and perhaps smartly so. It’s just now starting to get good. ;)


  9. Don’t worry, I’m still here.

    No politics for me, thank you very much : )

    Now, I’m going to go back to work on restoring a stadium that needs a modern facelift.


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