Missing Memorial Stadium already

March 27, 1998|By Janet Ruth Goldstein

IT'S a shame that there isn't more nostalgia associated with public places like Memorial Stadium, which is slated to be torn down by 2001.

I guess nostalgia is dead. That "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" mentality that used to infest Americans with so much hope and optimism has been replaced by a jaded fatalism. It is a dichotomy we must learn to live with, that our yearning toward the future must always do battle with our natural desire to preserve the past.

The stadiums of ancient times have been handed down to us intact. The Parthenon in Greece, Israel's Roman theater built by the Crusaders in Akko, the ruins of Beersheba; on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayan ball courts of Chichen Itza, where heads rolled in a primal game of soccer. I guess we didn't have enough human sacrifices at Memorial Stadium.

When my family and I visited Israel last spring, I remember the feeling of awe when I stood on the rim of the Roman theater at Akko, looking out over the modern port of Haifa. I wrote in my journal: "We sit in the tiers where Roman citizens sat 2,000 years ago and look down into the pit where gladiators provided entertainment while they spilled blood on the paving stones. The acoustics are so precise that on the top row, Leah can hear Uncle Steve's stage whisper from the pit. Meanwhile, the waves of the Mediterranean provide a backdrop for this magnificent accomplishment of human endeavor."

But they say Memorial Stadium has got to go, and it's hard to imagine a really good excuse to save it.

Oh sure, I suppose you could stack apartments in the bleachers and use the bowl as a green space for the inhabitants -- what a spa that would be! Or, I suppose you could turn it into a cool, concrete-and-steel shopping mall filled with lots of trendy boutiques.

How about a Colts and O's museum and hall of fame, with guided tours, concessions selling major-league baseball and football paraphernalia, the field of green space where familiies can picnic and play.

Watch it! There's that old nostalgia sneaking up on me, working its magic, making me think, "Build it and they will come "

Janet Ruth Goldstein writes from Pikesville.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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