There's no doubt that the millions of dollars that will be spent building a new baseball stadium could be better spent elsewhere, but in the first place, you know they won't, really, and in the second place, of all the sports teams in St. Louis, the Cardinals are first in our hearts and minds -- which means that when it comes time to do what they want, they've got us by the balls. This little anatomy lesson is brought to you because you already know how this story ends. In just about any city you can name, a baseball team asks for a new stadium and they get one, or else the team starts checking the price of one-way flights out of town. Hell, if Pittsburgh -- where the attendance for baseball sometimes hovers in the mid-four figures -- finds it necessary to build a new stadium, you know it's probably time for us to cough it up for one, too. Call this the Bobby Knight "just lie back and enjoy it" strategy. If we just get it over with, we get a nice new stadium, where Jim Edmonds, Fernando Tatis, J.D. Drew and, God willing, Mark McGwire will frolic for years to come. But the best thing about swallowing hard and doing this thing now is that we won't have to listen to people argue about it for the next 10 years.
In addition to simple pragmatism, there are aesthetic reasons to replace Busch. When the stadium was built, the technology of steel and concrete had just arrived at the point where we could build baseball parks that didn't have those damn-fool girders in front of every 10th seat, like Sportsman's Park had. The cost of that was that the seats had to be "raked" very shallowly. That is, the seats in Busch, especially the higher ones, are very far from the field, because the technology of the day couldn't put them any closer without putting girders out there. Well, the technology has changed, and the newest ballparks are able to do away with the girders without making the general-admission spectators feel like they're watching very small TVs. This makes a big difference in how involved in the game those spectators feel, and that is a big part of the professional-sports experience. The ballparks of Busch's generation are the ones other cities are now replacing, for just that reason. We were one of the first to get rid of the girders; we don't want to be the last to let our fans see the action close up.