THE PERILS OF GAMESMANSHIP
“Yes!” screamed a front-page headline in The Vancouver Sun last week, after the International Olympic Committee selected the pride of British Columbia as the site of the 2010 Winter Games. But as the local press gloried in the prospect of Olympic tourists and increased property values to come (we always liked that Vancouver was a city normal people could afford to live in, but that’s not what warms the cockles of real estate section editors), overlooked was a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, projecting that hosting the Games will cost taxpayers upward of $1.23 billion, which even in loonies is a lot of dough.
For Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and his gang of New York Olympic boosters, meanwhile, the news was more mixed—it’s long been conjectured that a North American winner for 2010 would put the kibosh on the same continent getting the 2012 Summer Games. But Olympics watcher Rob Livingstone of Gamesbids.com says that’s not necessarily so. While the Vancouver win “is certainly going to affect New York’s bid,” he notes, the strong support for Pyeongchang, South Korea, on the first IOC ballot (where it actually led Vancouver, 51-40) indicates that the no-repeat-continents rule may not be as stringent as scuttlebutt would have it, since Beijing is already set to be the 2008 host. Still, Vancouver’s big win could increase the already strong odds of New York’s bid being pushed back to 2016. New York Times real estate editors, take note. —Neil deMause
THE ANNOUNCERS PULL UP LAME
“Wherever you are at home,” said Mary Carillo during Saturday morning’s Wimbledon ladies’ singles final, “you’re having a better time than these two.” Although she was talking about Venus and Serena Williams, she could have also been referring to herself and booth partner Ted Robinson. For starters, give NBC credit for spicing up its Wimbledon coverage by subbing the insightful Carillo for the conservative and predictable Chris Evert. But whether as a sop to the twice-a-year tennis fan or a response to an edict from the NBC suits, Carillo and Robinson beat the it’s-between-the-sisters storyline to death, without adding any nuance. Referring to Venus’s abdominal pull, Carillo quipped, “You’re not supposed to be playing a Wimbledon championship with this. You’re supposed to be in a Barcalounger eating Cheetos.” Great line, but no follow-up. If, say, Kim Clijsters had pulled up lame in a Grand Slam final, fans and media alike would have bemoaned her bad luck. In making her decision about whether to continue, Venus no doubt remembered the vehement reaction when she withdrew from a match at Indian Wells against Serena because of tendinitis in her knee. “I took one for the team,” Venus would admit after the Wimbledon final. When Serena had trouble closing out the match against the injured Venus, out came the broadcast booth Freud. “Kid sister just can’t pick on big sis,” lamented Robinson. But recent tennis history is filled with matches in which ill or injured players—from Michael Chang to Pete Sampras to Andy Roddick—have been able to gut out wins by changing their tactics. Sure, Venus was hitting lame-duck serves—”They’re quacking,” quipped Carillo—but her go-for-broke ground strokes were crackling, and they provided some of the best tennis of the match. Next time—and there will be a next time—can we pretend that they’re not sisters? As for the men’s final, Andy Roddick‘s semifinal defeat won’t be a total loss if it gets coach Brad Gilbert to take off that floppy Metallica hat. And we can’t believe that John McEnroe passed up the opportunity to observe how much Roger Federer looks like Quentin Tarantino. —Allen St. John
THE NAME OF THE GAME
If New Jersey’s sports teams are any indication, the working axiom is location, location, location: For all their success, the Nets and Devils just can’t beat Manhattan’s Knicks and Rangers at the box office. Which makes Major League Soccer’s handling of its “New York” franchise—the Meadowlands-based MetroStars—all the more mysterious. The league has allowed, if not encouraged, the Metros to all but abandon their Big Apple backers and subtly market themselves as a Jersey club. MLS has further muddled the matter by not making a definitive statement on prospects for NYC expansion. “Right now, the MetroStars represent New York,” Mark Abbott, the MLS chief operating officer, told the Voice last month, in typically vague MLS-speak. And in the future? “We believe the market can support two teams.”
The numbers indicate otherwise. The Metros are having their most successful season on the pitch, but attendance is down more than 20 percent off the club’s dismal 2002 campaign. According to the MLS, the club’s MSG Network ratings last season outpaced those of the Devils and Islanders. But that may only highlight the hazard the club and league face: An MLS spokesman admitted that there are “identity issues” with teams that play up their suburban links. But 70 percent of the Metros’ season-ticket base is in Jersey. And last month, the team announced a deal with Harrison, New Jersey, to open a 25,000-seat, soccer-only stadium, accessible by train, in 2006.
Meanwhile, MLS officials won’t comment on the legendary Pele‘s rumored proposal to field an expansion team out of Shea Stadium—except to say that Shea is “unworkable.” But so is keeping fans from New York and Long Island in limbo. —Brian P. Dunleavy