Oct 15, 1999
Masturbation, Municipal Style - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
“Municipal masturbation” was a term coined affectionately by the great columnist Allan Fotheringham. It’s what’s going on right now in the city of Vancouver, all because of the situation brewing in the local sports world. Local professional sports. The Foth, used that term to describe the city’s flirting, campaigning, and or brow-beating to turn the city into a ‘world-class’ city. We see it now, because we’ve got so-called basketball fans, sports fans for that matter, coming out of the woodwork, wanting the Grizzlies to stay in the city. We’ve got guys like Art Phillips and Philip Owen, selling and buying Grizzlies ticket packs, wanting to save the damn thing. Anyone who reads The Commentary regularly, will know I am not a sports fan. But, with the abrupt resignation from Orca Bay by Steve Bellringer, hell I knew something was up. Then not less than two days later, McCaw unloads the Grizzlies to millionaire Bill Laurie of St. Louis. The franchise Frank Griffiths Sr. built, from BCTV to WIC, the Canucks to The Grizzlies, is gone.
Who knew the Griffiths, with little Arthur at the helm was the best we could do? Who knew it was the best time in our flirtation with professional sports? There isn’t any hope in having professional sports here. Blame it on the low dollar, blame it on our unenthusiastic support, or blame it on our ineffective players. The fact of the matter is, we can’t do it.
Right after the Grizzlies were carted off to St. Louis, because they will be there in a few years, two tops; the landscape of professional sports in this town was forever altered. In July, I editorialised the subject of federal funding to bail out the NHL teams in Canada. I said then, and I say now that the citizen should not, support big wigs in a big business, with their tax dollars. I could care less about losing the Grizzlies and the Canucks, and I say that not because I don’t watch sports. They just aren’t viable, so why the hell should we still have them here. We are preoccupied with the notion, that Vancouver can be sophisticated with two big ones in the middle, an NHL and NBA team. We can imagine being a world-class city, but all we end up doing is pretending with ourselves, because we all know we can’t pull it off in real life.
Now if the powers that be want Vancouver to be a cosmopolitan city, then support the arts. The Ford Centre is being sold and they want to turn it into a, get ready for this, a gospel hall? If Garth Drabinsky were dead, he’d be rolling around in his grave. Where was the government when the Stanley Theatre was being refurbished? They had to get De Maurier to pitch in. And then they find out that De Maurier sells cigarettes and they throw their arms up in the air saying it isn’t right. This city is far from world-class, because it wasn’t meant to be. It’s an outdoors place, where you can do anything outdoorsy, but we’d rather just cram ourselves into ‘The Garage’, paying arms and legs for tickets to some amateur hockey or basketball, although it’s billed as professional sport. Goodbye Grizzlies, it was nice while it lasted eh? Stay warm Canucks, you’re next.
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