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2005 04 01
Architecture and Utopia - Part 3
imageThe university blocked a deal to build a new football stadium on the site right outside our classroom. It was considered a great victory for sanity and scholarship, as against money and mass culture. No roiling crowds of drunken Argonauts fans would soil our cloister! No overhang of luxury seating would cast a shadow on our quiet streets!

The architects of the original design tried hard to modify their plan to allay these fears. They reduced the number of seats, rejigged the distribution so that more of them stretched over Philosopher's Walk instead of Devonshire Place. They were not the arrogant monomaniacs of the popular imagination, half-pint Howard Roarks designing without heed or scruple. They wanted it to work, it seemed.

They might as well have banged their heads against one of our dark stone walls. The deal was queered, the contract lost, the imagined stadium sent packing up to York University -- where, now, the principals are embroiled in lawsuits and financial inquiry over shady land deals. This, naturally, makes the stadium's opponents feel even more smug.

Every time I look out the classroom window I think how great it might have been. To have a genuine downtown stadium, a subway-access park, for the Argonauts and the Blues alike. Earlier, sitting in a meeting of the college Senate, where the stadium deal was mocked and denounced, I wondered if I was the only one there who had ever sat in the stands of old Varsity Stadium, on a dreamy September say, and watched a football game. Probably. Even at the time I was usually by myself because no one else I knew liked football.

I miss the old Varsity Stadium, and I wanted the new one. But here, in this town, victory means keeping things from happening, not making them happen. Not dreaming big, but dashing dreams. Pass incomplete...
[email this story] Posted by Mark Kingwell on 04/01 at 08:23 AM

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