New Yorkers may not appreciate the aethetic virtues of the Mets Home Run Apple.
But Floridians do.
At least when it comes to working the loopholes to find more public funding for their new baseball stadium.
The Miami Herald
has a great little story about how city planners are using funds earmarked for public art to gussy up the future home of the Marlins:
Lost in the debate over the hundreds of millions in public
subsidies for the Marlins' stadium is the $7.7 million in tax dollars
set aside for public art.
About $2.5 million of that is earmarked for a ``home-run entertainment
feature'' akin to Bernie the Brewer's slide (which used to be a beer
slide, ending in vat of brew, until some complained), or the New York
Mets' big apple rising from a top hat, or the Houston Astros' life-size
locomotive that chuga-chugs across the rim of the stadium, or the
granddaddy of them all -- the Chicago White Sox's fireworks-spewing,
pinwheel-festooned ``exploding scoreboard.''
Miami-Dade's public call for proposals reads: ``The home run
entertainment feature should conceptually celebrate the Miami Marlins,
the ocean, light, movement and the spirit of baseball.''
Although a drop in the bucket in relation to the overall $515 million
stadium cost, the unconventional use of arts money has raised some
highbrow eyebrows and triggered a philosophical debate over the
definition of art.
``Art should move your soul. It should be a
thing of beauty and something that causes you to see things in a
different light,'' says Becky Roper Matkov, a member of the Art in
Public Places Trust, which oversees a $4.6 million budget for the
I can't say the new Apple moves my soul the way the old apple did. But I am glad they moved the old Apple to Citi Field. And it was classic this summer when the new Apple did not move at all after back to back home runs because it requires several minutes to re-boot after each rising.
Home-run celebrations often do become synonymous with their cities.
So much so that when an old stadium is leveled and a new one built, the
feature is often replicated.
That's what happened at newly
opened Citi Field, where each New York Mets home run is celebrated by
an apple rising from a top hat -- just the way it did at noisy,
decrepit Shea Stadium.
We'll let that decrepit comment pass. Obviously the author does not recognize real art when he sees it.
If you are thinking there are better ways to spend $7.7 million in
public money during a budgetary crisis, you might have a point.
But, by law, a penny and a half of every dollar spent on Miami-Dade
government construction projects is carved out and put into a special
kitty to pay for art in public places.
That money can't be spent
on anything else. Though not a direct tax on the citizenry, it does pad
the cost of public construction, so the effect is the same.
With that money, the county has commissioned some highly praised projects, including Rockne Krebs' The Miami Line,
a 1,500-foot-long stretch of multicolored neon strung along the
Metrorail bridge spanning the Miami River. It has become a signature
feature of the skyline.
Other art pieces have gotten more mixed
reviews. A sculpture of a dropped bowl and scattered orange slices
outside downtown's Miami-Dade Government Center had to be roped off for
a while to keep skateboarders at bay.
Claude Delorme, vice
president of construction for the Marlins, says the new stadium --
``not unlike any other project in Miami-Dade County'' -- deserves the
same right as the Metrorail or County Hall to distinguish itself with
But a few critics say not only is a home-run feature
not ``art,'' but it is arguably not ``public'' either, since it will be
cocooned inside a stadium capped by a retractable dome.
``They've been getting a heck of a gift from the county and the
city,''says public arts trustee Graciela Solares, who sued Miami-Dade
and the city of Miami in the springto stop public fundsfrom being used
at the stadium.
Solares says she has no beef with baseball.
``I'd love to have the Marlins there,'' she says, ``and all the art in
the world there -- as long as it's being paid by the Marlins and not by