The Miami Dolphins have been busy remodeling their stadium because $425 million doesn’t spend itself, and the heat and humidity that is part of the Dolphin Experience (the part that makes up for the fact that the team hasn’t won a playoff game since five stadium names ago) has finally come to the attention of the ownership.
In other words, they are adding a canopy so that their patrons don’t boil in their own sweat while watching the lads compile another inspiring 7-9 record.
Which inspired Chris Biderman of USA Today to wonder if such a radical approach to sunstroke prevention might not be the kind of goodwill gesture the 49ers might take up for Masonry Oven Stadium.
This would surely change the ambience at the old yard at a time when the 49ers should be very acquainted with shade in the current colloquial sense (that means they ought to be used to catching hell from fans and experts alike). It would mean that the east side of the stands would not look like a successful fifth grade fire drill in the second half of afternoon home games, and it would mean that people wouldn’t have to Google the word “hyperthermia.”
But this would (a) cost money, (b) be an unforeseen expense, and most of all (c) cut the team’s profit margin.
It would also be an admission by club president Jed (Man O’The People) York that his Taj isn’t quite as Mahal as he has always wanted people to believe. And when you add acknowledgement of error to expense, you make for an unhappy stadium operator.
Now we would never assume that York The Younger would be too proud to do the sensible thing. One should always consider the possibility that entrepreneurs are willing to spend money to please the customers.
That said, it isn’t normally the way to bet. Football owners in particular are typically agreeable when the topic turns to risks assumed by others. That Steve Ross, the Dolphins owner, is bringing shade to his shadeless (with private financing no less) is a measure of what can be done when fans speak loudly enough about their desire not to be turned into brisket on the hoof.
But is Jed York the sort of fellow who can admit defeat and pay for the hall where the surrender takes place? He doesn’t automatically inspire such a thought, because like his father before him, he knows that admission of a miscalculation invites critics to get in a free one to go with the hundreds of others. His time as an admired figure in his present role has been brief, turbulent, and prelude to another extended stretch of abuse.
So to admit that he has been defeated by meteorology would be to admit that people were right about this part of his creation – that it holds heat like a baked potato and chases people to shelter and alcoholic relief with an efficiency the team itself has known only infrequently these past 15 years.
But there are advantages to York biting this particular bullet. One, goodwill, of which he has little to boast. Two, customers, of which he is about to have fewer than he planned on. Three, stadium ambience, as empty seats are poor producers of supportive cheers for the gentleman/missiles.
So York has a decision to make – to be liked by his patrons (or at least to be hated slightly less) and pay for the privilege, or to be richer and more obstinate, with the added benefit of being hated no worse than he already is.
And there is nothing to do now save awaiting word that either Fried Faithful will soon be off the menu, or to continue to enjoy the bright red seats without those troublesome people obscuring the view.
In the meantime, stock up on that SPF 300, kids -- either that or just bring tubs of spackle. Skin only crisps so many times before it loses its elasticity, insulation and general utility, and nobody wants to look like a catcher's mitt at age 25 for a team that is years away from being good again.