A Major Deal - Left Side

Hampton Roads should give up on a "big boy" arena and embrace its minor-league status.



Is Hampton Roads in the minor league of cities?

Twenty years ago, shortly after I moved to Norfolk, I had lunch with my friend Marc, with whom I had once worked at a newspaper in New York City. We’d both grown up there and shared, among other things, a lifelong devotion to the New York Mets. I asked him what he could tell me about Hampton Roads. “Well,” he responded, “I guess the best way to sum it up is that this is a minor-league town in every respect.”

He made it clear that this wasn’t a criticism. On the contrary, he felt that there’s much to be said for life in the minor leagues, as it were. I quickly grew to feel the same way. Take the Tides baseball team, for example. While Marc and I both missed the Mets and Shea Stadium (God rest its soul), we loved and still love the easy accessibility, inexpensive seats and laidback atmosphere at Harbor Park—which, incidentally, is consistently rated the best minor league stadium in the country.

I think about my conversation with Marc every time Norfolk or Virginia Beach announces plans to try to lure a major-league sports franchise to Hampton Roads. Whenever they do, I’m reminded of a child who puts on his father’s shoes in an effort to feel like a “big boy.”

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