Wednesday, July 27, 2022

You can’t go dome again

     Again with the dome.
     Forgive me for lapsing into Yiddishkeit. But to see Mayor Lori Lightfoot drag out the dome will-o’-the-wisp, like a much-adored toddler’s blankie now worn to a nubbin, and wave it over her head, as if it were an original genius divination of her own — it taps into a well of deep Chicago nostalgia. It makes me want to set up a cart in Maxwell Street and start selling bottles of Professor Steinberg’s Amazing Old World Cure-All.
     Because if people will buy the dome notion, they’ll buy anything.
     For years, decades, well over half a century, the idea of putting a dome over Soldier Field, or building a vast domed sports complex nearby, has been dangled in front of the city’s eyes by whomever is currently parked on the 5th floor of City Hall, joined by anybody else with a dog in this race who can find their way to a podium.
     In 1964, it was the general superintendent of the Chicago Park District, Erwin Weiner, observing it would cost $8 million to put a dome over Soldier Field (say it in a Dr. Evil voice: “Eight MILLION dollars!”) and transform the stadium into “a modern, all-purpose sports arena.”
     The timing wasn’t accidental. In the early 1960s, Major League Baseball created two expansion teams. One became the New York Mets. The other was slated for Houston, provided they could build a covered stadium. (Which might confuse native Chicagoans. A dome? In Houston? Whatever for? It never snows there. Answer: the Texas weather was considered too hell-like for human beings to play sports in a venue that wasn’t air-conditioned.)

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  1. Oy vey Lori. "Hak mir nisht keyn tshaynik! " Don't knock a teakettle at me.

  2. I haven't heard that one in a long time. It's odd. When I read it, it didn't scan, which seemed odd. My father spoke some Yiddish, and I thought. I was up on the more popular phrases. But then I listened to it on YouTube, and it instantly scanned. He said it, "Hockin' a tchaynik," as in "bothering me." I never knew about the teakettle meaning (based on the insistence of a rattling tea kettle). Thanks Baruch.

    1. When I was very young and very talkative (instead of being old and talkative, which is what I am), my mother and grandmother used that phrase repeatedly...mostly about me. I thought it was "Hocking a Chinik"...and that the expression translated into "To babble like a Chinaman"...which is what Asians of Chinese descent were still called in those days.

      My mother confirmed my belief when I asked her about the meaning. Mothers are like that. Or maybe someone had told her the same thing. Leo Rosten's wonderful books about the Yiddish language finally, told me otherwise, but not until the Eighties.

      For years afterward, I thought the "tea kettle" meaning was just a politically correct substitute for the "real" meaning. I mean...tea kettles are often made out another word for that substance is...uh...yeah...china.

      Does "china" translate into the various spellings of "chaynik"? And does the Yiddish phrase actually mean "Don't bang on my china teapot!"...the way insistent steam does?

      Perhaps, decades ago, I just had the wrong (and also politically incorrect) meaning of the word ""china"--it's a possibility. But alas...all the Yiddish speakers in my family are gone. And this is one instance in which my wife's knowledge of German (one of the main origins of Yiddish) doesn't help a bit.

      As for the dome, build it from scratch, where the racetrack sits. Horseracing is fading away. And there has to be a dome. Chicago's harsh climate dictates that. Cleveland spent a half-billion on a fancy new dump that is obsolete and crumbling after just two decades. It is only used a dozen times a year, because of its domelessness. Don't make the same mistake we made. No dome, no Super Bowl, and no to a lot of other things. Don't be dumb...just do the dome.

  3. Looks like Lightfoot has gotten bought off by that Dunn clown from Wisconsin, who wants to build that insane One Central idiocy over the IC tracks south of Roosevelt.
    He wants the taxpayers to pony up a billion $$$$$ tp pay for the platform that all his buildings will be on.
    He also wants Amtrak to build a useless station there for the few trains that use the IC Mainline & the CTA to somehow reroute an entire train line that doesn't go anywhere near there to his fantasy!

  4. Billionaire owners extort cities into building stadiums at taxpayers’ expense so they can make even more billions. That’s what makes this Arlington thing more interesting. Are the owners going to pay for the whole thing themselves?
    Maybe so. Besides TV revenues, owners make lots of money via parking fees, tickets, and grossly overpriced concessions. Soldier Field holds a little over 60,000 fans. A new stadium would probably hold about 80K. That’s a lot more tickets, beer and hot dogs.
    The next question is what will become of Soldier Field. Outside of the soccer team and an occasional concert, who will use it?
    I guess having a stadium sitting idly in the Museum Campus won’t be that bad. It’s what it does most of the year anyway. But oy, the maintenance.

  5. I can see the logic in wanting to enhance Soldier Field in the hopes of attracting replacement tenants, but whatever current costs are currently preventing other teams or musical events from appearing there right now will be even higher once construction crews are finished messing about with it all over again.

    I've seen the three alternative renderings of various roof designs, and I didn't think any were all that bad, but these are in the context of trying to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear of a redesign. It would have been better had the Bears made a more elegant exit back in the 1990s, before that ridiculous crashed-UFO bowl got approved, and then an alternate plan, maybe some discreet Colosseum-style fabric covering, could have been added at a minimal budget for other events, for shade if not weatherproofing.

    All this grand planning doesn't seem likely to go anywhere, but its real purpose is more likely to cushion the blow of the Bears actually leaving, with several years passing before reality sets in, when we realize that we've got this monstrous eyesore on the lake that no one is really all that interested in using.

    1. They could get Fireball Roberts back on track.


  6. Richie Daley's legacy will haunt Chicago long after EGD ceases publication. I can't envision an unpainful solution to the monumental mistake created by the second generations of the Halas and Daley clans. Instead of a stadium in a perfectly suitable piece of undeveloped land in Elk Grove, we have an embarrassment on top of an actual Monument and the impending destruction of a beautiful race course. All this so a bunch of spoiled behemoths can play football 10 times a year and disappoint their fans in the process.

    1. No one cares about Arlington park going away, but a few horse racing fools. So there won't be any more torturing of horses around Chicago, no loss whatsoever!


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