HITS AND STRIKES
Ray Hartmann's "Commentary" ("Stadium Sale: The Name of This Game Is Deceit," RFT, April 19) was a freakin' grand slam into the upper deck and right on point!
The original spin (when the Cardinals were acquired) was, we had a great ownership group that wasn't profit-oriented -- wealthy businessmen buying for the love of the institution. But when the stadium story broke, I thought, "Bend us over again."
A question I've not seen is on the performance of the Trans World Dome deal. Is there any shortfall on the interest or sinking fund payments on the $250 million bonds? Is the deal solvent? I doubt it, because the biggest tenant bent us over on the lease and licenses.
Anyhow, Hartmann helped me grow from a right-wing idiot to at least an intelligent independent in my thinking through the years. (Four kids will do that, too.)
Keep fighting the good fight, because the sports media can't objectively fight because they've got their hands in the cookie jar, too.
I read with great interest your series of editorials and articles on the new stadium proposal for the Cardinals ("Card Sharks," RFT, April 19). To read your articles and analysis, you would think that the biggest beneficiaries of the new stadium are going to be the current owners. You are wrong.
The biggest beneficiaries of building a new stadium are going to be the Major League Baseball players'-union members. They already reap about 62 percent of current revenues, and I'm sure they will score about that same amount or more in the future. Why doesn't the players' union borrow the $250 million (two-thirds of the total to the owners' one-third -- same as the revenue split) for the stadium?
Where are the scathing articles about "rich fat-cat" players? You seem to have absolutely no problem with negative views toward the owners, who at least put their own money at risk in this baseball venture. I know, everyone likes the players, and so do I, but at the end of the day, the players have no capital at risk and they take home 62 percent of the cash. What a deal!
If anyone is getting a free ride in this, it's the current and future players.
I couldn't agree more with Ray Hartmann's "Commentary" on the proposed stadium deal. I've got an idea about disclosure and trust: If we're going to finance the new stadium with public funds, shouldn't the Cardinals (or anyone else) need to make a disclosure similar to a private company wanting to go public on the New York Stock Exchange? Private investors in a company are protected by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and get an independent accounting. Shouldn't the public get the same before we invest in the Cardinals?
The baseball Cardinals recently surprised most of St. Louis by announcing their intention to push for the construction of a new stadium. There are several aspects to a decision of this magnitude that need to be addressed and discussed before such a large sum of money, especially public money, is dedicated to this project.
One aspect that needs to be contemplated is the fact that we already have two new stadiums in St. Louis. If we build another new stadium, we would have three state-of-the-art facilities. However, in 20 or 30 years we could have three stadiums that would need replacing at the same time. If we plan ahead and wait 10 or 15 years to build another new stadium, we may be able to prevent a crisis down the road. The Cardinals owners assert that the new stadium is necessary for the franchise to remain financially viable. If they can provide evidence that this is the case, perhaps the city could negotiate with them to delay construction for several years. Surely the best interests of the city are important to the Cardinals' owners, for if they would contribute to the decline of the city, their franchise would probably lose value.
The only thing wrong with the current stadium is the lack of enough luxury boxes. We already have torn down the Arena. The city had said that the Arena was too expensive to maintain for its renovation to be feasible. That may be true, but there have been no such claims about Busch Stadium. Throwing away a perfectly good facility would be a great waste of a valuable city asset. However, leaving Busch Stadium vacant and deteriorating would be even worse. The city already has way too many vacant and neglected buildings. The city should carefully consider what it does with its older buildings. This city does not have so much money that it can simply throw it away. Careful planning always pays off in the long run.
St. Louis is a city that has great potential, and with careful and deliberate planning, this city could easily enter a new golden age. However, if we squander our opportunities and resources, we could easily create damage to the city that would take years, if not decades, to overcome. The citizens of St. Louis are too good and too loyal to deserve anything less than the best from their public officials.
David W. Hausmann
In the "Martinis" category, the Ritz-Carlton won as having the best martinis in town, as well they should have ("Restaurants 2000," RFT, April 19). I worked in their Lobby Lounge for over three years, and I can testify that they do have an exquisite selection of martinis. And, as you stated, they were all created by the staff there.
But I must point out that the selection was not created by the current staff at all. Lindsey Markham, director of food and beverage at the Ritz-Carlton, seemed to imply that when he said that they "use research, studying and creating." Mr. Markham and his staff have done absolutely nothing to help create the astounding martini menu his establishment lays claim to. He should have given thanks to the real creators of his selection. The key people include Don Shaffer, the former bartender who laid the groundwork over four years ago when he began the Lobby Lounge beverage menu; Carlo Nardi, the former director of operations (Mr. Markham's talented predecessor), who had the vision and the commitment to vastly expand it, taking care to ensure that the menus were routinely and professionally printed -- in spite of high printing costs (incidentally, they are now printed at the local copy store); Scott Lokke, the former beverage manager, who spent many long hours creating the vast majority of the cocktails on that menu and took care of it like it was his own child; and I, the former Lobby Lounge manager, who expanded on the martinis when Mr. Lokke's well had run dry and spent long arduous hours looking over the proofs to check for misspellings and inaccuracies.
Notice that all those people are former employees. The Ritz-Carlton has made sure that each and every person with talent and vision is no longer with the organization.... If the St. Louis Ritz-Carlton continues to pinch pennies, perhaps next year another local establishment will be honored as having the best martini in town. Then maybe that organization will thank the correct people.
Chris J. MacFall
LUMP OF COLE
Kudos to D.J. Wilson for his article on Cole Campbell's departure from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ("Short Cuts," RFT, April 12). As somebody who worked for Cole in Norfolk, Va., I thought the piece was very fair to Cole while nailing the problems he ran into in the newsroom and with readers. I don't know what went on in St. Louis, but the things Wilson described were exactly what happened in Norfolk and rang very true. Nice, dead-on piece.
I'd just like to say that Jill Posey-Smith was the most fun new local writer that I have read in many years. She will be greatly missed.
I'm sure that she will do well in all her future ventures and can only hope that her writing will reappear in future issues.
I'm sure Colorado will survive.