Will the Keil Center ever gain a moniker as familiar as "The Barn"?
It seems unlikely; for all its slick modern wrappings, the new facility
seems little more than a machine for watching sports, and machines are
harder to love than places. The Barn was a place, a recognizable and
cherishable focal point of the city... one that was brutally scraped away
in the name of 'progress'.
In the ebb and flow of urban existance, buildings come and go; they
are built, age, remodeled, age once again, and many eventually are destroyed
in favor of new construction. This is perhaps how it should be... but a
few buildings, at least, are special. Whether they are physical landmarks,
public gathering places, or enhancers of civic beauty, certain select structures
are worth more than their marketplace value. They should be treated as
sacred, and held as immune to the vagaries of economics.
The old Arena was one such building. With its commanding hilltop position, the Arena helped shaped and gave
form to an entire section of the city. Its loss
erases part of the city's identity, nudges it a visible step closer to
anonymity. It was more than just a building; it was part of history, a
part of our lives -- a part of what made St. Louis's personality, part
of what gives the city its unique character. The public's interest in preserving
this landmark structure as part of the city's identity, history, and shared
experience should have outweighed purely economic concerns. The destruction
of the Arena is nothing less than a crime against the city, a denegration
of its civic vitality, and evidence that something is still very much amiss
among the city's leaders.