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November 14, 2012

Curse of the Bambino takes One Last Victim

by WSBA

Old Yankee Stadium1bw” by JoshuaPomales on flickr. Used under the Creative Commons BY 2.0 License.

The iconic curse of baseball great Babe Ruth took one last victim after the company responsible for the demolition of the original Yankee Stadium filed for bankruptcy. Demco Inc., the construction company responsible for tearing down Yankee stadium, has been struggling through the economic downturn and finally called it quits in August 2012.

The city of New York built a $1.5 billion dollar stadium nearby. The City paid Demco nearly $20 million dollars to demolish the old stadium and turn it into a park. Since then, the construction company has had difficulty finding sufficient work.

The demolition job was no easy task. Workers ripped out 57,000 seats from the Stadium that housed more than 6,000 games in its 85-year history. Demco then segmented the stadium and took out massive sections of the park, including some concrete slabs weighing 500 tons.

“Ruth1921.jpg” by George Grantham Bain. Made available without restriction by the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ggbain.32385.

The baseball legend Babe Ruth passed away at the age of 53 in 1948, and left behind an 86-year World Series losing streak to the Boston Red Sox, who finally beat the cursein 2004. Apparently the Great Bambino wasn’t done.

With private money tight, and government money being the only source of revenue for construction jobs, competition for what few contracts are available is high. For potential customers, paying the tab on demolition hasn’t been a priority.

Demco gradually reduced its employees to 90, down from 300 at its most illustrious. It has been involved in some very high profile demolitions. It took down the floating Palace Casino that slammed into the Mississippi coastline during Hurricane Katrina while limiting ocean pollution. They wiped out the 72,000 Orange Bowl stadium in Miami and salvaged numerous artifacts to be used in the Miami Marlin’s new baseball stadium.

Demco has only six jobs remaining, including a $70 million dollar demolition of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in Kansas.

Surprisingly, a major source of Demco’s revenue was not the actual blowing up of buildings, but selling the chunks afterwards. Demco created lucrative contracts that authorized it to salvage, recycle, and sell the wreckage. Unfortunately, the market has suffered in recent years as the price of commodities has dropped.

Demco filed for Chapter 11 protection, which is marked as a business “reorganization.” The protection will allow the company to continue operating. Close to 90% of businesses that file under Chapter 11 eventually close permanently.

Unfortunately for Demco, even in death the Great Bambino can demolish more than just baseballs.

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