Weather has always played an important role in sports. Probably the ancient Greek marathoners complained when an untimely cloudburst at MM 25 impeded their competition between Athens and Marathon.
The state of Florida, with a magnificent climate, has occasional weather problems but most have been cured or conquered through perseverance and modern construction technology.
Recently a major lightning and thunder event stalled over Ben Hill Griffin Field (the Swamp) requiring immediate play stoppage, sending everyone under the stands or back to their tailgates until the lightning detector simmered itself. Similarly, the popular turf races at Calder are taken off the turf frequently due to afternoon cloudbursts.
Consider the roof at new Marlins Stadium: A $3 billion effort ensures one of the worst teams in baseball can play before a minimal customer base as a gully washer from the Everglades wreaks havoc on the metro area.
A similar situation exists in the domed but cavernous St. Petersburg/Tampa Tropicana Field where few fans show up for Rays games. Efforts to get the public to fund a stadium have been solidly defeated.
The NFL informed Dolphins owner Steve Ross that his (1987) stadium is no longer adequate to host the Super Bowl…unless a roof is added. Probably the result of Peyton Manning relegated to passing a football in XLI in a tropical monsoon. The Dolphins are trying to generate public funding for a roof with little success.
Did anyone become hysterical about a roof over Fenway when “the Boss” played three hours in a driving rain storm in front of a sellout?
A massive renovation of the luxurious parts of the stadium was done recently to placate the NFL. Nevertheless, the stadium has hosted five Super Bowls – a favorite of media, players, fans and high rollers.
Now with the Marlins gone, the stadium, a hop skip and a jump from trendy South Beach, should be a shoo-in for another Super Bowl. Apparently not happening.
The Miami Fort Lauderdale hospitality industry is packed with tourists paying top dollar at that time of year anyway. Many hoteliers and restaurateurs consider the game a pain, creating needless traffic jams and for the most part not substantially increasing business.
Raymond James Stadium in the Queen City is just fine with the NFL and that’s without a roof. Next time the game is played there and it rains, they’ll probably be told to get a roof. Meanwhile the NFL “prefers” New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Dallas and, soon, D.C. with snow and sleet and single digit temps. Bottom line: New stadium = Super Bowl.
Perhaps NASCAR will take note and build roofs over Bristol or Watkins Glen thus eliminating FOX TV announcers from three hours of filling while two big trucks dry a two-mile oval.
The NHL in Florida fights Mother Nature on a game by game basis. Humidity sneaks into the Miami and Tampa rinks causing mushy ice, and the talented speedy skaters find it slow going. A recently released Marlins executive opined that one day the NHL should play its annual 1/1 outdoor game in their new stadium with the roof open.
The Sunshine State, much like Arizona and Southern California is a good bet for outdoor positive sports games. There’s an occasional hurricane, just as in Arizona (occasional dust storm) or Southern California (earthquakes, fires) or Kansas City (tornados).
In Florida, Mother Nature continues to enjoy a relatively positive, relationship with fans, players and their games. What’s better than playing a couple of innings in some minor league ball park, jumping in the Explorer and playing 18 at a nearby Greg Norman, Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Peter Kostis course every day in March?
• The rumor reported here a few weeks back regarding building a quarter horse track or jai alai fronton in Florida City has gained traction. According to the Miami Herald a specific parcel of land has been identified by the Florida City commission as designated solely for gambling.
The identification of this designated parcel and its subsequent zoning change was requested by none other than GRETNA mogul David Romanik through his corporation Fort Myers Real Estate Holdings.
Romanik has approached the owners of Magic City Casino in Little Havana (among others) about using one of their two unused gambling permits to create this racino. Should that come to pass, the Magic City ownership would enjoy a monopoly in the mid and southern part of the county.
• Long time sports talker 790 AM The Ticket moved its programming to 104.3 FM. Owner Lincoln Financial purchased the FM signal and in doing so guarantees access to triple the audience of the AM. The change should catapult them into the catbird seat. Rivals 560, 940 and 640 AM will be at a distinct disadvantage.
• Florence Hecht died in late August. The matriarch of the Flagler Dog Track/Naples-Ft. Myers Dog Track conglomerate was prominent for decades in state cultural, social and civic circles. The UM Hecht Athletic Center was named after her husband, and the Florence Hecht Residence Hall at the University after her.
Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].