By Marc Campos

The Politics Of Opening Day

Twelve and a half years ago we had us an election here in Harris County that changed the face of Opening Day. We had us a fair and square debate on whether or not to use some tax monies for a baseball stadium. On one side you had Dan Patrick and the usual anti everything folks. On the good side you had then Mayor Bob Lanier, my good friend Drayton, and The Dean. The good side barely won and thus began the transformation of Downtown H-Town.

The election was won in large part because of the support of Dem strongholds including African American and Latino precincts. We also won key boxes in the Heights and Montrose. My buddy Dave Walden kind of ran the campaign. Pam Gardner ran things from the ‘Stros’ shop. The Dean was one of the critical forces behind making sure the proposed stadium was located Downtown. Commentary was brought in toward the end of the campaign to help with message. I make it my business not to second guess the decisions that voters make, but by 16,000 votes plus change - or 51% to 49% - they said to build it and they will come.

The next year, The Dean ran with and passed the legislation that created the mechanism (Sports Authority) that allowed for the negotiations to build the stadium. Original Harris County – Houston Sports Authority appointees like Jack Rains, Billy Burge, and Al Luna made sure the Stadium was built within budget and had significant minority contracting participation. Pam-In-Charge handled things from the ‘Stros perspective like how the stadium was going to look.

I can’t remember being this excited about Opening Day at the Dome. They didn’t have the all day festivities at the Dome like they are having today at The Yard. There is something about going to The Yard Downtown. Fans stream into The Yard from all parts. We don’t have to sit on the 610 Loop in a traffic jam trying to exit on Fannin.

So I’ll take time today to thank Drayton, Pam, Dave, Mayor Bob, Billy, Big Al, Jack, The Dean and of course the voters who are making this day possible again – cause all politics are local.

Commentary and my fellow consultant Kathryn attended the FiveSeven Grille Grand Opening by invitation only gathering Friday evening prior to the exhibition game versus the Tribe. The front office did a good job of putting together a cool place to hang out during the game.

Saturday morning Commentary dropped by the baseball seminars including the “Women in Baseball” with Pam-In-Charge, VPs Jackie Traywick, Rosi Hernandez and Jennifer Randall – none of whom need touching up. Pam-In-Charge put it best when asked about her job – "we're in charge of making the money we need to field the team.”

FYI: former ‘Stros Chris Burke was sent to triple AAA by the Mariners and Adam Everett starts at shortstop for the Tigers.

At tomorrow’s game, the team will kick-off the 10th Season Campaign by handing out commemorative lids to the first 10,000 fans. They will also honor a member representing each season: (2000) Shane Reynolds, (2001) Lance Berkman, (2002) Larry Dierker, (2003) Jeff Bagwell, (2004) Jeff Kent, (2005) Phil Garner, (2006) Roy Oswalt, (2007) Carlos Lee, (2008) Jose Valverde, and (2009) Cecil Cooper. Ten season ticket holders will throw out the ceremonial first pitches to the players that represent a decade of ‘Stros baseball at Minute Maid Park.

It looks like the only thing missing from tonight will be CM James Rodriguez – little under the weather - Carol Alvarado – handling stuff up in Austin – and of course The Dean – trying his best to make sure Guv Dude doesn’t completely ruin the Lone Star State. 40,000 schedule magnets will be handed out tonight as Roy O. and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubbies go at Opening Day at The Yard after our last encounter in Milwaukee for the Ike Games so let’s Play Ball!

April 6, 2009 9:00AM

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