LESSON IN ECONOMICS
Eight years ago, at a price of $31.6 million, Houston completed its 50,000-seat Astrodome. New Orleans' 75,000-seat Superdome, now under construction, will cost at least $150 million, maybe as much as $200 million. Meanwhile, in this year of escalating costs, Seattle is building an enclosed 65,000-seat structure for a piddling $43 million. It is now 15% complete and should be finished in January 1975.
John Spellman, King County executive, explained how it was possible these days to build a domed arena so cheaply.
"In order to hold costs to a minimum," he said, "our architectural and engineering teams had to devise new methods. They started taking bids a year ago because of rising costs. They broke everything into components and bid each one separately.
"For instance, we bought 34 boxcar-sized air-conditioning units, manufactured separately and shipped to the site. The units will be mounted at the stadium instead of a huge unit being built at the site. That was a big saving. So was the dome itself, which will cost $5 million. We found that the best and cheapest covering for the dome was a thin skin of concrete, which will be poured in forms."
Whereas the New Orleans stadium includes a parking garage and separate meeting rooms for large conventions, Seattle plans to provide only 3,000 on-site parking spaces and will have no arena provisions for conventions. But parking will be no great problem. The King County structure is just a few blocks from downtown, with maybe 30,000 parking spaces available.
Nor will Seattle match the Astrodome in spectator comfort. All seats will have backs but only 15,000 will be cushioned. Seattle also expects advertisers and operators of professional football and baseball teams to finance the scoreboard, and concessionaires will have to build their own kitchens and sales stands.
"Baltimore is considering building a domed stadium," Spellman said, "and they've already had our architects and engineers in as consultants."
Moral: Build a cheaper domed stadium and the world will come to you.
BACK IN ACTION
Anyone who ever has endured the excruciating pain of a slipped spinal disk, herniated disk, or whatever the doctors choose to call it, must be cheered by what happened to Bill Melton, White Sox third baseman, as reported in a major article in American Medical Journal.
Customary treatment used to involve submitting the patient to an operation on the spine, with dubious prognosis, or prolonged bed rest in traction. What happened to Melton was something called chemonucleolysis, which calls for injection with an enzyme known as chymopapain. If you don't understand that, read on, from the pages of American Medical Journal:
"Chymopapain is a sulfhydril enzyme that breaks down the protein polysaccharide complexes of cartilage. Injecting the enzymes into a damaged intervertebral disk digests the nucleus pulposus, and thus offers an alternative to laminectomy."
Anyway, the pain in Melton's back has traveled back to the backs of opposing pitchers, and there's not much chymopapain can do about that.
TWO FOR DIOGENES
The presumption has long been that all fishermen are, at one time or another, liars. It might even be true, but a couple of exceptions to the rule have turned up in Maine.
First it was Merton Wyman of Belgrade, Maine, whose record blueback trout of four pounds four ounces might have taken the top trophy in the Messalonskee Fish-Game Association derby. But Wyman volunteered that the blue-back had come from Basin Pond, not included in derby water, thereby eliminating the fish from the competition.
Next weekend Paul Barkowski of Waterville showed up at the Knights of Columbus derby with a handsome brook trout. The crowd gasped as it weighed in at five pounds four ounces. But Barkowski refused to let the officials place the trout among the registered fish.
"No, no," he protested. "I just wanted to have you see it and weigh it. It came from Pleasant Pond." Another beauty eliminated. The derby committee voted Barkowski a special $5 truth prize.
Incidentally, if you don't recognize the term blueback trout, you have company. It is a rare fish these days, though it was common in the Rangeley region until the early 1900s. But it was netted and speared in great numbers when it spawned in the fall and became all but extinct. Wyman's blueback was a pound heavier than the previously accepted world record. It will be mounted and placed in the state museum.
MAKE-DO, DO-WITHOUT TEAM
Another track title has come to Englewood High School, an inner city institution in the 54-member Chicago Public League. For this the team can thank Coach Ed Wallace, who operates with virtually no standard practice facilities or equipment.
Englewood's shotputters practice by throwing the 12-pound ball up a flight of stairs, sprinters carry each other piggyback up and down stairs at a housing project, high jumpers leap up and down from teachers' desks and hurdlers skim over broomsticks held up by chairs.
Wallace forages in junkyards for items that can be converted into makeshift equipment. He believes he can develop champions in every event except the pole vault, which requires space and money. Discus throwers, for instance, use a gutter as a measuring point and throw the discus across the street into a park.
"I feel sorry for the younger coach who comes into the city schools," says Wallace. "He may get discouraged quickly."
One must wonder why.
QUI MAL Y PENSE
One of the pleasanter customs on Hawaiian cruises of the S.S. Monterey and sister ship Mariposa is the establishment of a ship's lounge ashore in the best resort at each port of call. Presided over by cruise hostesses, the lounges offer such comforts as refreshments and changing rooms for use of the beach and pool.
At Lahaina on the island of Maui, Barbara Squibb was hostess in the Monterey lounge at the Maui Hilton. Passenger after passenger came to her for a key to a changing room, entered it fully clothed, then emerged scantily dressed to return the key.
Watching all this with growing indignation was an elderly lady guest of the hotel, who finally charged up to hostess Squibb and demanded: "Young lady, just what kind of a business are you running here?"
HARD TIMES AT THE COUNTRY CLUB
Changing times are altering the once widely sought status of country-club membership. Whereas heretofore most private clubs maintained long waiting lists, they now are welcoming new members. Richard D. Haskell, executive director of the Massachusetts Golf Association, has an explanation.
"The cost structure has a lot to do with it," he said, noting that real-estate taxes have had a telling effect. "Costs are up, mostly for labor—labor on the greens, house labor in food service. Some clubs break even on their food operations, but more of them lose money. In some instances the bar income doesn't even offset the food operation loss.
"In many clubs with 300 to 500 members, their food service operation is in competition with local restaurants. They have a limited market—only the membership and their guests.
"Opening up the membership is part of the answer. Many clubs have imposed minimum house charges of anywhere from $15 to $50 a month on food and beverages. A lot of people consider that the worst thing they can do." Rising initiation fees also are having a "negative reaction," according to Haskell.
"Because the clubs need capital," he said, "they increase the membership fee, as much as $750, but they still try to attract the young marrieds. The surveys show that nationally the average age of club members is getting higher than we'd like to see.
"That doesn't portend well for the future. A lot of young people want to be active, but their interest is different than it was years ago.
"One of the answers is to increase the family activities at the club. More activities must be made available. Tennis is one. Clubs have to become more family-oriented rather than rely on pure golf activities."
MAINE LOBSTER ANGLAISE
The New England clambake is coming to Old England. On June 24 at the estate of the Earl of Lanesborough, about 100 miles north of London, some 350 friends of the earl will be treated to the authentic thing, presided over by 69-year-old bakemaster Kenneth P. Gray of Edgecomb, Maine, one of about six professional bakemasters left in Maine.
BOAC will fly in 500 pounds of live Maine lobster, six bushels of soft-shell clams and several sacks of Maine seaweed. Since fresh Maine corn will not be available that soon in the season, 450 ears will be imported from Spain. Anyway, Spain rhymes with Maine.
Gray has staged clambakes over the past three summers for Miss Pauline Fenno, and she carried word of their glory to her native England.
Gray's next spectacular will be back home again, where he plans a fall feast for no fewer than 1,000 guests at the University of Maine's Orono campus.
Everyone felt that Harry Dalton, California Angels general manager, was daft when he hired Arizona State's Bobby Winkles to manage his team. But Winkles had a 524-173 college coaching record, and the Angels are doing right well in the American League East—using Winkles' college methods.
"When I first came into the majors," Winkles said, "three things about big-leaguers disappointed me. First, they didn't run on and off the field or show too much hustle. Second, they were always complaining about being too tired with a 162-game schedule. And finally, the number of mistakes....
"We went at spring training the way we would have at Arizona State. We really worked their tails off. And they seemed to love it.
"Fundamentals? Sure, the pros worked on them just like the college kids. Because kids today are railroaded right into the majors with few years behind them, they still have a lot to learn.
"You'll see our team run on and off the field, the infielders bounce around, the pitchers run out. I think it's good."
It's good enough. Not only are the Angels above .500, their attendance is up more than 85,000.
THEY SAID IT
•Lee Trevino, golfer: "I'm going to win so much this year my caddie will make the top 20 money-winners' list."
•K.C. Jones, San Diego Conquistador coach, on what he would do if he could sign UCLA's Bill Walton: "I'd smoke a lot of cigars and smile at everybody."
•Larry Jones, Florida State football coach, on Ahmet Askin, a Turkish-born sophomore kicker who is wrestling with a problem of academic eligibility: "He's gonna be a real good kicker this year if he can get by foreign language. English is his foreign language."
•Larry Riggs, 28-year-old son of Bobby Riggs, on his father's reputation as a sports hustler: "I think you can be a big-time hustler and be legitimate. Smalltime hustlers trying to win nickels and dimes are not respectable in our society, but Dad's a big-time hustler and that's all right."
•Pete Elliot, University of Miami football coach, about a youngster he tried to recruit: "I asked the young man if he was in the top half of his class academically. He said, 'No, sir, I am one of those who make the top half possible.' "
•Richie Scheinblum, Cincinnati Reds outfielder, on his career with the Cleveland Indians: "The only good thing about playing in Cleveland is you don't have to make road trips there."