My hometown of Lubbock has been experiencing some incredible growth. Beginning with a new freeway that basically hatched the egg of growth some five years ago, the town is exploding in all directions with unprecedented growth. The Jones even recently underwent some incredible renovations making it look like (gasp) a real college football stadium. Everytime I go home, I make the comment that I just don't recognize the city anymore. Every corner in that city is getting a facelift, it seems. Especially the area that was once known as "Overton"--a seedy little neighborhood sitting in the sunset shadows of Jones Stadium's east side. Over the last, four years or so, Overton has basically been flattened except for the churches, it's families relocated to adjacent neighborhoods and erected on the same ground, uptown living with four-digit rent, Starbucks, a bank, beautiful retail space, water fountains, stylish cobble streets and plenty of activity on gameday.
Gone are the days where one would fear the trecherous walk back to their parked automobile after the game's last minutes with pepper spray in hand and eyes on the back of their head. I, personally, would walk with clinched fists and a meanmug to ward off anyone punk thinking I'd be an easy take.
McDougal Properties, one of the biggest development/construction outfits in the region, was the company taking on the uptownization of Overton. Reads their press release: By the 1980's, the area had changed primarily into a rental community for low-income residents with approximately 97% of the property owned by absentee owners. Crime increased dramatically with almost one-fourth of all reported crimes in the city coming from North Overton, which represented only 3% of Lubbock's population. Burglars struck at twice the rate of any other neighborhood, drug dealers worked openly, and prostitutes camped out on the street corners. These conditions presented a sad commentary on a once proud and stately neighborhood.
A noble cause, indeed. And McDougal, in all of their nobility, brought on their wrecking ball and completely wiped the turd of a neighborhood off the map--erasing the memory of yesteryears from Lubbock's east side. At the far east end, they built a Wal-Mart (so much for keeping it classy) and apartments on the west. Except, in all of their deconstruction, the forgot one little landmark. With front-door views of the 7-11 parking lot and the strong stinch of last night's trick, the Stadium Motel--like the cockroach that survived the H-bomb--still remains standing only footsteps or a drunken crawl across University Avenue to the gameday festivities.
I don't personally know anyone who has stayed there and, even after years in existence, you still can't find a single review of it online. I would never venture to stay there at this point. Possibly when I was in school as a field study but I've grown past those days. How is it that a sad, pathetic lil' whorehouse could escape the gentrification of Overton? How is that the Stadium Motel, with its satellite dish erected like it's proud middle finger to McDougal, still stands?
It's the ultimate underdog story. In many ways, the Tech football team is the Stadium Motel. We're that small, humble football team thrown the scraps of the big conferences, clawing and scratching our way through our schedule, hoping for bowl glory somewhere in Mississippi or Virginia. Meanwhile, our bigger and richer competitors are winning national championships and building huge high-class apartments and running the poor, less-afluent families to the edge of town. We are the Stadium Motel. You tried to get rid of us, but we survived--hidden under our lil' FREE CHECKING billboard from your swining wrecking ball. We still got dead cockroaches holding walls up, a druggie with a needle in his arm, a resident who keeps mice as pets, a prostitute who turns eight tricks an hour and a gas leak that hasn't been fixed in seven years. And they still can't kill us.
No doubt, Texas and all of their flash and Nike apparel is a daunting opponent. We have not a single National Championship to our name. Our players go onto mediocre careers in Europe at the very best. Our short list of notable traditions include throwing tortillas on the field. That's no longer tradition. We don't really have any traditions, I guess, except coming in second or third.
Well, here we sit at #7 in the nation. Either we're really good or we fooled almost every writer in America all the way to the Top Ten. I was listening to ESPN Radio on the way home from work and the dude on there said that tomorrow's game will be, "The best game in college football this season." In Lubbock? Just across from the Stadium Motel? In the same stadium that I used to usher old folks to their seats in my lil' Boy Scout uniform? Where a seat in the grass used to cost five bucks? Where after halftime you could just walk in and watch for free? The center of the college football universe is in Lubbock?
Looks like every room is booked in Lubbock. In fact, the report from ESPN is that when GameDay announced they'd be broadcasting live from Lubbock earlier in the week, there was nowhere available for their crew of 65 people. No telling where they're having to stay. Maybe at the Stadium Motel.
I make no guarantees on the game. I've already put in my predicted my outcome for all to see--49-42, Texas Tech. But really, at the very least, I'm hoping we give 'em hell and make it a good game. When there's no team in college football better than your opponent, winning is never an assumed outcome and you just play the most perfect game you can.
Leach is ready.
In honor of the great Mike Leach, here's my favorite quotable coming from a pre-game press session before the Texas A&M game a few years back: “How come they get to pretend they are soldiers? The thing is, they aren’t actually in the military. I ought to have Mike’s Pirate School. The freshmen, all they get is the bandanna. When you’re a senior, you get the sword and skull and crossbones. For homework, we’ll work pirate maneuvers and stuff like that.”