Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vishnu dances on a football pitch

My regular commute takes me past the erstwhile home of Cardiff City Football Club, Ninian Park Stadium. Use of the word "stadium" is misleading, I think. It brings to mind the image of a place you would actually want to be, which was always the exact opposite of what I felt toward Ninian Park. It was a sport facility that appeared to have been built by the same people who throw together barbecue shacks in Texas -- four pieces of wood, a few sheets of corrugated tin and a hand-painted sign telling you where you are.

But Ninian Park offered no barbecue. Only Cardiffian thugs. Ninian Park looked like a great place to get my ass kicked, picking up a bit of tetanus in the process.

You'll notice, though, I'm using the past tense. Last year, Cardiff City FC moved to a fancy new stadium just across the road that looks to have been built in a joint operation by IKEA and Lego and whoever it is that designs all the mega-churches in the United States. It has a permanent sense of the impermanent - no matter how long it sits there it will never look like it belongs; it will never look like it will be around for too much longer.

The old Ninian Park Stadium, meanwhile, is being ripped apart and houses are being put up in its place.

Cardiff City FC has the woeful misfortune of having Peter Ridsdale as its chairman, who has a grand history of financially ass-raping football clubs until they get relegated. So, Cardiff City is on the brink of collapse and desperate for cash. It's for that reason, I suspect, the houses are being built in a hurry; the club is eager to sell off the land and pay off its staggering debt.

But the result of this is strangely beautiful. On one end of the old pitch you have smoking metal-beaked machines tearing through the stands and snapping old metal beams. On the other side of the pitch there are already a handful of houses, with the foundations being laid and scaffolding raised for dozens more. It is possible for a Cardiff City fan to sit in his new kitchen and watch his club's old stadium fall in his back garden.

It is destruction and creation in an instant. The dance of Vishnu on a football pitch.


Anonymous said...

City won 3-1 today by the way.....

Unknown said...

The Ninian Park housing development won't bring any money into the club ... that land has already been sold to a property developer in return for the new stadium.