Category Archives: St. Louis

Tony LaRussa & Yes

With the news of the death of Yes co-founder Chris Squire, I’m reminded of a story from 2004.

Back then, I was living in Saint Louis, and for two years I lived in a complex called the Chase Park Plaza. It was part-apartments, part-hotel, with a movie theater and lots of dining options. It was a very nice place to live.

At the time, then St. Louis Cardinals baseball coach Tony LaRussa lived out the season in the hotel side, along with some other coaches.

A bar manager I befriended, Sarah, told me this story one night as I stopped in for a drink.

Sarah pulls into the garage, and parks. She sees this red sports car with the door open and loud music blasting out of it. She walks slowly to the entrance to the hotel and the music stops. The driver gets out of the car, it having been turned off.

She stops and gawks, as it is none other than Tony LaRussa. He looks at her, takes off his sunglasses, and says: “What? You don’t like Yes?”

I can’t say that I am a big follower of Progressive Rock, but Yes put out some great stuff. And Tony LaRussa was a fan.

Jack, Jack…

Friend and fellow SLU grad — now a St. Louis City Alderman — is apparently on board with a city-funded stadium in St. Louis.

He appeared on NPR‘s “All Things Considered” this morning in a sound-byte about the city’s frantic effort to keep the bottom-tier Rams from moving to Los Angeles.

Jason Rosenbaum (NPR St. Louis): People like Jack Coatar see this place as the future of professional football in St. Louis. The St. Louis Alderman says building a publicly-financed football stadium here will inject economic vitality into a blighted area, and keep St. Louis as an NFL city.

Jack Coatar: You know, we have the opportunity to completely change what that river front looks like. Take a blighted area north of the arch and completely regenerate that area.

Also joining the conversation was Holy Cross’s Victor Matheson. (Whose work I cited in an item arguing why Cleveland should turn down the GOP or Democratic conventions.)

The math on publicly funded stadiums (like political conventions or Olympics) usually does not add up to a net gain.

Here’s Matheson in a 2011 report, Financing Professional Sports Facilities:

Numerous scholars, starting with Carlino and Coulsen (2004), have used hedonic-pricing techniques to attempt to quantify the quality of life aspects of sports. If the presence of an NFL franchise, for example, is a vital cultural amenity for residents in the area then the value of the franchise to local citizens should be reflected in a higher willingness to pay for living in a city with a team.

One problem is St. Louis is a small, relatively poor city given its size with 318,000 residents. The region has 2.8 million people — and that includes Illinois. Missouri politicians (and not Illinois politicians, who represent a not-insignificant amount of Rams fans) appear ready to pour $400 million (plus) into the stadium.

That means that financing of the stadium is likely to be borne by state taxpayers as a whole. I recall during my time at SLU seeing highway billboards farmers put up that said “If Cardinals build highways, we’ll build stadiums.”

I’m dubious about publicly funding any pro-team’s sports stadium. This, despite being from Cleveland. There, our politicians helped hasten Art Modell’s decision to move the Browns to Baltimore by giving stadiums to the Cavs (not so great at the time) and the Indians (historically bad but on the verge of being good enough to lose in the World Series twice) and not the Browns. Modell just wanted improvements to a stadium far more inferior to the Edward Jones dome.

After the Browns left, we fought to keep the name and got a new franchise which, like the Rams, has under performed. Browns fans, happy(?) to have a team again, will likely hold the bag for a team’s stadium that, at best, hosts 10 games a year there. After paying for 74% of it.

At least the Cardinals are there more often and have a chance at going to playoffs.

But here’s the thing about the Matheson report. The benefits of new stadiums tend to benefit apartment building owners, not necessarily citizens writ large:

Carlino and Coulsen (2006), for example, find that rental housing in cities with NFL franchises command 8% higher rents than units in other metropolitan areas after correcting for housing characteristics…

Others such as Feng and Humphreys (2008) and Tu (1995) find localized effects of stadiums and arenas on housing prices but also that these effects fade quite quickly as the distance from the stadium grows. (Editor’s note: St. Louis is nothing if not spread out.) Conversely, Coates, Humphreys, and Zimbalist (2006) find that Carlino and Coulsen‟s results are highly dependent on model specification. Kiel, Matheson and Sullivan (2010) find that the increase in housing costs does not extend to owner-occupied housing and also find that the presence of stadium subsidies lowers housing values, a finding also uncovered by Dehring, Depken, and Ward (2007).

Here’s a rare intersection where Vox and I agree. Let the Rams build their own stadium or leave.

Matheson concludes his report by saying this:

Improving citizens’ quality of life is clearly an important goal for public policy makers, and there is evidence that sports are a valued amenity for local communities. Evidence of significant direct economic benefits from sporting events, franchises, and stadiums is lacking, however. While public-private partnerships can be justified on quality of life grounds, voters and public officials should not be deluded by overoptimistic predictions of a financial windfall. Sports may make a city happy, but they are unlikely to make a city rich.

Love you, Jack. Happy you’re succeeding as an elected official. But you’re wrong here.

Drop the economic vitalization argument and just say you want to keep an NFL team because the city likes sports. Voters appreciate honesty.

You can listen to the NPR report below:

If Darren Rovell Were Good At His Job…

… he’d probably do a little more research before tweeting this:

stay classy

I took a few seconds to google “Jordair Jett” with quotes and terms associated with majors and degrees, and easily found proof that SLU’s website hadn’t been updated.

But what do I know? I don’t work at ESPN and have a Twitter verified checkmark.

Stay classy, Rovell.

Recipe: Red Hot Riplets Chicken

During our first married Christmas, Mary and I brought back a bag of Saint Louis’s famous Red Hot Riplets chips back home to enjoy. As far as chips go, these are some of the best in the country, so we always bring some back. Unfortunately, we thought the bag was partially crushed on the last leg — the drive from Cleveland to Washington.

Mary was sad that the chips might have been destroyed. So, I suggested we use it to coat some chicken breasts and bake them in the oven. Tonight we opened the bag to find them unharmed (the air saved them) but went forward anyway.

Here was the delicious result:



* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1/2 big bag of Old Vienna LLC’s Red Hot Riplets (Order online)
* 2 large chicken breasts, halved into four pieces.


1. Preheat oven.
2. Beat eggs in mixing bowl.
3. Crush to desired texture 1/2 bag of Riplets.
4. Toss individually with care and place on Pam’d, tinfoil-covered tray.
5. Bake at 375º for about 40 minutes, or until fully cooked and serve.

[Updated x2] Wikipedia Entry of Cardinals Vandalized, Hits Search Engine Descriptions

UPDATE: Bing’s description has been updated as of 1:47pm EST, and the offending language (presumably via a Wikipedia entry that was edited) is now gone.

UPDATE 2 (below): Google is now hit as of 4:12pm EST.

A tipster who uses Bing suggested I check out the description of the Saint Louis Cardinals they’re currently running.

It appears that it’s based off of the wikipedia page for the Cardinals, which was likely defamed.

Bing, though, apparently hasn’t caught on, and is running this:



A close up:



Update 2: Apparently Google is hit with this, too. (h/t Kelly Cohen)



Obama Picks Louisville Over SLU

Sorry liberal Billikens … President Obama has predicted the Louisville Cardinals will defeat the Billikens and go on to the Final Four.

I hope you’ll defy the President and cheer on the Billikens to victory.

Let’s Go Bills!

UPDATE: NCAA picks: Saint Louis over Louisville in the Midwest


The Spirit of Saint Louis

The best write up by far of the Saint Louis University Billikens and their majestic season so far appeared today in the New York Times. Go read it.

My favorite part of Greg Bishop’s excellent story:

They learned of his death after the first December practice, carried the coffin at his funeral and honored his legacy by securing the No. 1 seed in this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They think of him when they eat Italian food or execute perfect backdoor cuts. They remember the laughter, the perpetual food stains, the presence.

It feels like he is still around. The spirit of St. Louis.

Since SLU has not really made any good wallpapers that I’ve seen, I made this one. Feel free to download and use it if you’d like. Click the image for a full-size.



Billikens Win A-10

Congrats to my Alma Mater on winning the regular season championship for the Atlantic 10.


Catholic Colleges Contemplate Forming Collegiate CYO

Tonight, friend of the blog Cowboy Diplomacy (CD) shared this link with me. It seems seven Catholic schools in the Big East are contemplating taking their ball and forming a new league. Their own collegiate version of a CYO, if you will.

ESPN reports:

The seven Catholic schools in the Big East have agreed to leave the conference and are debating the process of departing the league, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

How DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova leave the Big East is still undetermined.

The presidents are expected to issue a statement on their schools’ future in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Interesting. At first glance, I suggested to CD that I am not sure this is the world’s greatest idea. After all, who would want to watch an all-Catholic conference? Doesn’t it sort of limit the exposure of Catholic colleges to the tournament if a lot of them join this conference? CD disagreed:

It makes sense. College basketball is a great product. And, it’s TV money. Bring those basketball schools in to a conference together and give a grant of rights

Admittedly, I could care less about the Big East. It’s just not my conference. I tend to follow Big 10 football and A10 basketball & soccer, and that’s pretty much it. I asked if SLU and other non-Big East Catholic schools might join. CD didn’t know SLU was Catholic, which I found amusing.

ESPN answered:

[Notre Dame coach Mike] Brey also said the discussion among the Catholic schools was to make it a national Catholic conference with Xavier, Saint Louis, Dayton, Creighton, Gonzaga and possibly Saint Mary’s, as well.

Ah, would there be a Catholic Sports Network? What would play in the off hours? EWTN? Top 10 Mass moments? St. Vincent de Paul infomercials?

The question on everyone’s mind is — would Pope Benedict XVI be the commish? He is Pope after all.

catholic 10

I hear there is big money in TV networks & rights these days — but who would subscribe if it wasn’t part of a comprehensive sports package?CD suggested maybe a network would pick it up. Who? To be sure, these are some decent sized markets.

I’m not sure. I guess we’ll see in the next 24-48 hours what happens. Should be interesting.bsig

The Business of SLU Basketball