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posted: Feb. 22, 2006  |  Feedback

Wanted to follow up on my Houston comments from Monday's column. I thought they were pretty tame, but what do I know? For the past two days, I have been getting four types of e-mails from the residents there:

1) "Right on, I'm glad somebody said it. I don't know why Houston is getting all these sporting events, either."

2) "Stop playing dumb -- anyone who builds a new arena gets an All-Star Game or a Super Bowl. You know how this works."

3) "You can't judge Houston by downtown Houston, what are you thinking?"

) "Don't come back and go (bleep) yourself."

Let's take those one at a time.

1) "Right on, I'm glad somebody said it. I don't know why Houston is getting all these sporting events, either."

And that was my only point. Three major sporting events go up for grabs every year: the Super Bowl and the MLB/NBA All-Star Games. Here are the North American cities that could potentially host one of the three:

San Fran, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Milwaukee, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami, Tampa, Washington, Boston, New York, Philly, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Toronto, Memphis, Nashville, Salt Lake City and St. Louis. That's 36 cities off the top of my head; I'm sure I left out three or four more.

So how could Houston end up hitting the trifecta in the span of 24 months with 1-in-36 odds for each sport? Houston doesn't have anything more to offer than any of the other 35 cities I just mentioned; like anywhere else, it has some plusses and some major minuses. Just because they built new stadiums/arenas for three sports, they get to host three major events in the span of two years (and I'm not even including the two World Series games)? How does that make sense? Nobody finds this strange?

2) "Stop playing dumb -- anyone who builds a new arena gets an All-Star Game or a Super Bowl. You know how this works."

You're right, I know how this works. And I think it's stupid as hell. The Patriots just built a new stadium two years ago -- does that mean that the 2008 Super Bowl should be in Foxborough? Puhleeze. Although it would be fun if this happened and Maxim was forced to hold its annual party at the Raynham dog track.

3) "You can't judge Houston by downtown Houston, what are you thinking? Why didn't you check out other parts of the city?"

Here's why: Because every single event, party and hotel was downtown. If you don't believe that your downtown represents your city as a whole, don't schedule everything downtown. It's that simple.

All I can tell you is this: It took 25 minutes to get from one part of town to the other without traffic; there weren't NEARLY enough cabs; everyone was telling us "don't walk around downtown at night unless you're in a large group"; and the three major places for the weekend were the Convention Center, the Toyota Center and the Houston Hilton (where the players were staying) ... all of which were located within 2 minutes of one another in the middle of nowhere. Plus, it was 35-40 degrees outside, so you couldn't walk anywhere, and again, there were never any cabs to be found. So if I'm a tourist for the weekend, what the heck am I supposed to do?

Which raises a larger point: What's the appeal of hosting these major sporting events if you can't handle them? I assume a city like Houston is hoping, "We'll attract all these tourists, we'll make a name for ourselves, we'll win over the media members, by the time this is over, we'll be considered a destination place!" Well, none of these things happened. It's nothing personal. For instance, I live in Los Angeles right now, and this city is just as big, just as sprawling, just as congested and just as poorly equipped to host something like the NBA All-Star Game (which happened two years ago). Some cities just aren't meant for this weekend. Houston is one of them. I don't know what else to tell you.

4) "Don't come back and go (bleep) yourself."

Now you're hurting my feelings.

And just for the record: I actually enjoyed my book signings in Austin and Houston; the people down there were cheerful and gracious. But let's look at a place like Austin versus a place like Houston. I LOVED Austin. Loved the downtown. Loved the pockets of bars. Loved the music. Loved how it was easy to walk around. It even reminded me a little of New Orleans. I was glad I went there. In just a single day, I feel like I have a better grasp of Austin than Houston, a place where I have spent 24 days over the past four years. There won't be a 25th. So you're getting your wish. Although I still haven't figured out how to (bleep) myself.




Bill_Simmons
Bill
Simmons
February 2006
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