The arena is not famous, or suited to soccer, or attractive. Scratch that. It’s actively ugly. The field is circled by a track – the perfect bush-league touch that says “high school.”
In order to maintain the televised illusion of grass – the surface is artificial turf – they’ve haphazardly laid long, near-green carpets on the sidelines. Like your weirdo cousins do in their paved-over backyard.
The global audience is used to seeing this level of event played on landscape architecture so pristine it makes Versailles look like urban farmland. Canada’s version is going to look like the house that gets cleaned by piling all the junk behind the couch.
Maybe the enthusiasm of the crowd can make up for the aesthetic shortcomings. Or maybe not. The locals don’t seem all that interested. As of Thursday, the game was 5,000 seats short of a sellout according to organizers.
As an ad for the country, then, the marketing tag line of the opening match of the 2015 World Cup goes something like, “Canada: Well, you know.”
What we know is where this game should be played, and why it isn’t.
It should be in Toronto, where there is a very expensive, purpose-designed structure of which its proper name is the National Soccer Stadium (BMO Field).
You and I paid for it to be built. Why did we do that if it’s not going to be used for the most important national soccer game that has ever been played in this country? Taxpayers got talked into buying a fridge, and now the bureaucrats want to use it as a bookshelf.
Also, there is the small matter of Edmonton. This requires some delicacy.
Edmonton, God love you. In some ways you are the romantic home of soccer in Canada. But when the whole country has to stand up in front of the rest of the world, you can’t be the first one talking. We just need you to stand there quietly, looking supportive.
No, no, not in front. They’ll see you. Stand behind Vancouver. No, on the other side of Montreal. All right, why don’t you just crouch down behind Halifax and we’ll hope everyone thinks you’re Ottawa.
When England has to make a good impression, they don’t spend hours debating if it should be highlighting Sunderland or Liverpool. You know, for the sake of fairness.
They go to London, straight off and every time, because that’s what the world wants.
The world is going to tune in on Saturday expecting Toronto because that’s the city that matters. It may hurt to hear it, but it doesn’t make it less true.
This might be marginally palatable if any games of the Women’s World Cup were slated to be played in the city. But there are none. Not a single element of the most important summer-sports tournament played here since the 1976 Olympics will take place in the country’s largest, most cosmopolitan, most soccer-loving city.
(Words are too poor a vehicle here. Just imagine me staring at you for a long time, until one eye starts to twitch and you start to get a little afraid.)
I have long said that Saskatoon could and needs to do winter better. Â Instead of complaining about it, we need to embrace it like Edmonton has done. Â With the arrival of winter today in Saskatoon, I decided to come up with a list of 30 awesome things to do in Saskatoon this winterÂ (actually it is 28 things, one awesome thing is in North Battleford and one in PANP). Â If you have any ideas, let me know on the page. Â Iâ€™ll add them all.
Today markâ€™s my 40th trip around the sun without being tossed off. Â I guess it also means that I am middle aged. Â That being said, Time Magazine once said that 50 is the new 30 so I guess that makes me 25 or so. Â Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
To celebrate my birthday, we have spent the last couple of days where it all began; in Edmonton. Â Yes I was born in Edmonton. Â I donâ€™t like to talk about it because it wasnâ€™t my choice and it is Edmonton after all.
We got up at Sunday at 5:00 a.m., left Saskatoon at 6:00 a.m., were in Lloydminister for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and in Elk Island National Park by 11 a.m. Â After talking some photos of some bison, it was off to Edmonton. Â Wendy used some Airmiles to book a decentÂ hotel, the boys have spent the last couple of days enjoying West Edmonton Mall and I got out in the warmer weather and took some photos around the city.Â Iâ€™ll post them online when I get back to Saskatoon.
I donâ€™t really think of Edmonton as home. Â I was born there and only lived there a year before moving to Rainbow Lake and then settling in Calgary for a decade. Â Growing up as a Calgary Flames hockey fan, I used to despise Edmonton in the same way someone from Springfield thinks of Shelbyville. Â Since things have changed (and both Calgary and Edmonton canâ€™t play hockey),it is nice to be back, even if it does mean wandering up and down a mall.
For my birthday, the boys gave me a Pentax WG-10 rugged compact camera while Wendy gave me aÂ GoPro 3+ Silver EditionÂ and a really nice Invicta dive watch.Â Maggi gave me a Denver Broncos sign that I will hang at the cabin. Â Two of the four gifts say, â€œget outside more oftenâ€ and after this winter, I canâ€™t agree more.
The plan is to have dinner with the boys tonight at a local restaurant and then head down to Winstonâ€™s for a Diet Coke with some friends.
My brother gave me a DeWalt cordless drill and a bit set. Â We are planning to build the deck on the cabin this summer and he included his ideas as well. Â A 10×10 deck out back and a 8×8 deck in the front yard. Â We should have it built in a day.
Josh Harris said Newarkâ€™s Prudential Center was a more important financial piece in his purchase of the New Jersey Devils than the hockey team itself.
Harris and David Blitzer, a New Jersey native and senior managing director of Blackstone Group LP, purchased the National Hockey League franchise last month in an agreement that also gave the partnership control of the Prudential Center.
Located three blocks from Newarkâ€™s main transportation hub, the $385 million Prudential Center was opened in 2007. Harris called it â€œone of the most modern arenas in the country.â€
â€œAnd we think that with the new capital structure and the new ownership group and the new management that we put in, that weâ€™ll be able to make this arena really realize its potential financially,â€ Harris said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Harris, who bought the National Basketball Associationâ€™s Philadelphia 76ers in 2011, acquired the NHL team in a deal valued at about $300 million.
Harris has already made changes to the Devilsâ€™ business personnel, hiring Scott Oâ€™Neil as chief executive officer. The former president of Madison Square Garden Sports, Oâ€™Neil is also the chief executive of the 76ers.
Harris said he viewed the Prudential Center as complementary to New York Cityâ€™s two main arenas, Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The home of theNBAâ€™s New York Knicks and NHLâ€™s New York Rangers, the Garden is completing a $1 billion private renovation. The $1 billion Barclays Center, home of the NBAâ€™s Brooklyn Nets, opened last year.
â€œIf youâ€™re a big concert event and you stop in New York, youâ€™re probably going to play one of MSG and Barclays, and this arena,â€ Harris said of the Devilsâ€™ home.
Oâ€™Neil said in another Bloomberg Television interview last week that the Prudential Center was the fourth-highest grossing arena in the nation, behind Barclays, the Garden and Staples Center in Los Angeles. He didnâ€™t offer specific figures or the source of his information.
Located about 11 miles (18 kilometers) from New York City, the Prudential Center has been a one-tenant building since the Nets moved to Brooklyn prior to the 2012-13 season. Harris said the venueâ€™s concerts and special events would be enough to sustain the building without a second professional team.
â€œHaving a basketball team, an NBA team, in this arena is not in the business plan right now,â€ Harris said. â€œWe donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessary.â€
Interesting bit of arena drama right now in New York. Â You have Madison Square Garden being evicted, the Nassau Coliseum being totally renovated and refurbished, the Baclay’s Centre opening, and now the New Jersey Devils being purchased not for the team, but because it gives them access to Newark’s Prudential Centre.
In case you think this is just a New York thing, check out what MSG is doing with the old Los Angeles Forum, a building many thought would be torn down.
The first thing to consider is that arenas are costing $300 million dollars at least with many heading towards the $500 to a $1 billion range (depending on land prices). Â Older arenas like Nassau and The Forum now have tremendous value, if you can call a $100 million renovation a value, in part because modern arenas have become so expensive, they aren’t viable in non-premier markets. Â Remember that the City of Edmonton is paying a subsidy to the Edmonton Oilers to operate their new arena and Glendale is paying a large subsidy to the Coyotes to manage their arena.