Baseball, never quite sure where it stands, seemed to be galloping off in all directions last week. Bad news came from Arlington, Texas, where the Rangers play. Residents of Arlington, a community of 100,000 between Dallas and Fort Worth, are facing an increase in property taxes because of the artistic and financial flop of their ball club, the worst in the major leagues. A nonprofit organization called the Arlington Park Corporation, which runs both Arlington Stadium and the watery Seven Seas Amusement Park, reported an overall loss of $527,994 in 1972. One reason for APC's deficit, says Tom Vandergriff, longtime mayor of Arlington and the man who persuaded Owner Bob Short to shift his club (the former Washington Senators) to Texas, is the $7.5 million, 10-year loan the city obtained to buy radio and TV rights to Ranger games from Short. APC thought it was a wise investment, since it felt sure there was a bundle to be made from broadcasting and telecasting the games to eager Texas fans. But the deficit last year was $576,246, and this year the baseball network has been tightened from 30 radio and 15 TV stations to 10 radio and two TV (this is not all bad: in the Dallas-Fort Worth area the telecasts will shift from a relatively weak UHF channel to powerful KDFW-TV, Channel 4). Also, Ranger attendance was only 663,000 last year, well below what was hoped for, and season-ticket sales this year are down.
Thus, money is not coming in as expected, yet debts have to be paid. "We made our first payment on the loan," said county commissioner Jerry Melbus ($1.2 million was repaid), "but that meant we could not pay the city anything for leasing the stadium or for the amusement park facilities." The city budget anticipated a rent of $1,489,548 from APC; none of it was forthcoming.
Somebody has to get up the money, and Mayor Vandergriff has spoken of a tax increase. Indeed, the tax collector has already sent notices asking property owners to render their holdings for taxation. "We're going to get it good now," predicts political activist Mrs. Jewel Fox. "Our taxes are really going up because of that damn polliwog pond and Little League field."
But consider baseball's good news, the astonishing attraction it can be. One day last week the New York Mets, who had lost four of their previous five games, drew 38,000 people to Shea Stadium—on a muggy, rain-threatened Thursday afternoon. A substantial proportion of those in attendance was youthful—school kids and college kids on spring vacation—which indicates the old game still has a hold on the young crowd. On the previous Sunday, a warm, beautiful day, the immensely popular sport of auto racing drew only 16,100, or 6,400 less than capacity, to USAC championship races at Trenton, N.J., even though the drivers present included A. J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Joe Leonard. Thirty miles away the Philadelphia Phillies, one of baseball's joke teams, drew 30,700 people, almost twice what the drivers did.
Bad news on the liberation front. In Great Britain the World Marbles Board of Control decided by a 5-1 vote to re-impose its ban against all women competitors in the annual Good Friday championships at Tinsley Green in Sussex. The reason given, obviously spurious, was that women wasted too much time during last year's championships.
And in Japan, not only women but the young—or at any rate, the relatively young—have been put down. The ingenious Japanese are planning to build a new two-course golf club in Ohtawara, a two-hour ride from Tokyo. It will be called St. Andrews Country Club, and one of the courses, designed with the help of Jack Nicklaus, will be a replica of the Scottish St. Andrews' famous Old Course, even to the bunkers and huge greens. Permission to use the name and to copy the hallowed course was freely granted by St. Andrews, but in appreciation the Japanese have given the Scottish town �50,000 already, will pay another �50,000 this year and thereafter will send an annual stipend of �10,000.
But to the rub: membership, which costs $12,000, is restricted. Women and anyone under 40 cannot join.