You may, or may not know me to be a big advocate of heritage. Truth is that I think we need to save what we can, there is no going back when it comes to the wrecking ball.
So my recent tweets may surprise those in favour of historical preservation.
How much should #LdnOnt subsidize the Majors? You can’t rent an apartment downtown for what they pay for Labatt Park.
— Jason (@JasonFredin) April 9, 2013
@late2game I’m a big heritage advocate but suspicious of the property’s heritage value.
— Jason (@JasonFredin) April 9, 2013
All of this was brought on by the fact that I was surprised to find most of the city in favour of the incredibly low price paid to use the facilities by the London Majors.
To completely come clean, I am in favour of preserving Labatt Park.
Although I don’t think that decision is as easy as some think.
I wouldn’t call any of the structures on the property worthy of historical designation, most are modern structures. From reports the field is in a different orientation than the original, it’s the reason for the controversy over the oldest ballpark moniker. Finally, I didn’t think London cared about location, just look at the Fanshawe Pioneer Museum (where we store all our old stuff), 199 Queen Street and the Fugitive Slave Chapel, both which were considered victories if we could keep the structure, but lose the location.
On the other hand, it is pretty cool to have such an excellent ball park at the center of the city, one I didn’t know had such devoted fans until this week. The location has been in continuous use since 1877 (the same year as the invention of the phonograph), which is deserving in its own right, and some historical players have stepped foot on the field of play in London.
Aside from historical reasons I think Labatt Park is a special asset for our city, and excellent facility for sports. I have competed on the field myself in my younger years.
Then there is the legal reason. From what I have read (and Wikipedia wouldn’t lie) the Park was donated to city on the condition it was named after the Labatt family and was “for the use of the citizens of the City of London as an athletic field and recreation ground”. I’m not a lawyer but if we cease baseball operations would the property revert to the Labatt family?
That kind of shoots down the idea of the city selling it to a developer.
My big question is that of our subsidy to the London Majors.
I spent many a summer nights on the wooden benches on the first base line, in fact our family visited Arden Eddie’s home to pick up our season’s tickets.
The Majors are an institution that is ingrained in the history of London. I just don’t want to be unofficially sponsoring a business, especially if that business is producing profits. I would rather make it official and transparent.
I’m not even sure of the business’ structure at this point. As far as I have understood the team has owners who bought the team in 2004. Non-profits don’t have owners, but someone at the London Free Press wrote an anonymous piece calling them a non-profit.
But the Majors provide a summer of cheap entertainment at a facility they’ve called home since 1925 and one wonders if the city would propose such a fee hike for other non-profits.
The baseball team has a two-year deal with the city to use the park for an annual $8,700 flat fee, 20% more than the per-game fee it’s paid in the past…
…Would such a proposal be on the table for any other non-profit?
Fact, or intentionally muddying the waters? Nobody who could intelligently answer the profit status of the team was willing to answer the question on Twitter.
I think I know who wrote it, but I will keep that to myself, no need to point fingers.
So there you have it, without slant, as much as I am capable. My apologies for not editing this post.
The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.
– Blaise Pascal.
Now I’m moving on…
Thanks to @dereksilva for pointing out a critical line I missed.
…which is in the process of converting to non-profit status…
Yes, I fail at reading sometimes.
(Wow, am I glad I didn’t point fingers.)