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Frozen Fields

I won’t lie to you, reading The Baseball Stadium Turned Clunker Graveyard almost made me weep. I couldn’t help but think of Field of Dreams; Kevin Costner, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. And James Earl Jones, too, because, man, that baritone voice of his is the one I wish was inside my head.

Anyway, once home to Negro and minor-league baseball teams, Bush Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, an Indiana Landmark for crying out loud, is now a parking lot. A parking lot for rusting and beat-up cars. For shame. As a proud Canadian, I need to know who I’m supposed to blame for this travesty. The Democrats? Republicans? John McCain? President Obama? I’m rather fond of Obama, so I’d much rather blame McCain.

On an aside, did you know you can actually visit the Field of Dreams from Field of Dreams? It’s in Dubuque County, Iowa, about 100 miles from Madison, Wisconsin, where I’m headed next summer for a wedding. You better believe I’m going to make the drive, stand at home plate, and yell at the top of my lungs: “If you build it, they will come.” And they must sell If You Build It, They Will Come t-shirts, right? They have to. Because I’d totally buy one.

While Indianapolis has found one way — an awful way — to put their downtown stadium to use, so has Cleveland, and the Indians, albeit only for the winter.

Snow Days. Now that’s more like it. The showstoppers: a massive 10-lane tubing hill, and “The Frozen Mile,” an ice-skating track a quarter-mile long.

What I think we can all appreciate about the initiative by the Indians is that they’re trying something new. Progressive Field is owned by the city of Cleveland, and while the Indians pay a fixed rent, they keep all stadium revenues. If Snow Days turn a profit, which it won’t this year, the money goes into the Indians’ pockets. They’re trying. The organization is willing to take a loss while searching for ways to increase revenues in a brutal economy, one that Cleveland has certainly felt the effects of. And what better way than to use an empty stadium that they’re already paying rent for?

The way I look at it, there’s never a bad time to bring a kid out to the ballpark, even in the dead of winter.

Images kindly borrowed from LeicaNokota, and the one, the only, The New York Times.