Tunnel Vision

Why doesn’t Victory Field have a corporate sponsor? What’s to be done about all these Canada geese? And how far do the downtown gerbil tubes run?

Q: With all its second-story pedestrian walkways, downtown must by now be the gerbil-tube capital of the Midwest. How far could a person walk without having to step outside? Christopher W., Indianapolis

A: Gerbils rejoice! Indy offers one of the best tube systems this side of PetSmart. Many urban planners object to skywalks between buildings, fearing it siphons customers away from street-level restaurants and stores. To this, the Hoosierist says “eh.” There’s something pleasantly futuristic and Jetsons-esque about all those walkways funneling pedestrians from one end of downtown to the other in temperature-controlled comfort. If we can’t have flying cars, we’ll settle for this.

To find out how far this human Habitrail can take you, The Hoosierist turned to Chris Gahl, director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. He says that if you start at the new JW Marriott, you can take various connectors all the way to Union Station’s Grand Hall—a distance of just over a mile. One can also take a slightly longer walk to Lucas Oil Stadium, but the last leg of that journey is via a ground-level covered walk. Which means it doesn’t count. Because there’s another name for a covered ground-level connector. It’s called a hallway.

Q: Are the people of Versailles ignorant of the fact that the proper pronunciation of their town’s name is “Ver-sai”? Percy K., Muncie

A: The roughly 1,800 residents of this Ripley County municipality are well-aware that their town takes its name (though not its pronunciation) from a certain Parisian suburb. And the reason they say “Ver-sales” instead of “Ver-sai” is pretty simple: Being frugal Hoosiers, they don’t like to waste all those perfectly good alpha-bits. “I’d say it’s because we pronounce all the letters in a word here,” says Wanda Burnett, editor of the Versailles Republican. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it, as far as I know. We just like to say it all.”

Perhaps there’s something in the Ripley County water, because just down the road from Versailles resides the home of Indiana’s other pronunciation iconoclasts, Milan. As everyone knows, folks in those parts say the name differently than the residents of Italy—site of the town’s marginally more famous namesake. The Hoosierist says vive la difference. Because we wouldn’t want the home of the Greatest Basketball Story Ever Told to be confused with some Eurotrash fashion capital.

Q: Why doesn’t Victory Field have a corporate name? Susan N., Beech Grove

A: The Hoosierist wondered this too, given that pretty much every other Indy sports venue, from Lucas Oil Stadium to Conseco Fieldhouse to the decrepit Pepsi Coliseum has a company name grafted onto it. Not to mention most arenas across the globe.

So stand in your seat and offer a rowdy cheer to the Indians. They call their stadium Victory Field not because a well-heeled corporation paid them to, but out of respect to their former home, Bush Stadium, which carried the name Victory Field from 1942 to 1967. “Because of the tradition, we have not entertained corporate naming rights for the ballpark,” says Indians director of marketing and communications Chris Herndon.

That attitude seems even cooler when compared to the actions of the teams the Indians play against in the Triple-A International League. The Buffalo Bisons and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs play, respectively, at Coca-Cola Field and Coca-Cola Park, and the Toledo Mud Hens make their home stands at the too-lame-for-words Fifth Third Field. But while the Indians’ stance warms the cockles of The Hoosierist’s soul, it must be said that plastering a corporation’s name on a stadium isn’t always a disaster. It just has to be a good fit. The Triple-A Louisville Bats, for instance, sold their stadium-naming rights to Louisville Slugger. Who wouldn’t want to play a game at Louisville Slugger Field? And since brewskis and baseball go together like popcorn and movies, The Hoosierist sees little problem with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium or the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field. The Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field is named after the chewing-gum guy, but time has sanctified that choice in a way that it never can for, say, the Chicago White Sox’s U.S. Cellular Field.

Q: A flock of Canada geese lives next to a pond in my neighborhood, and I’m tired of stepping in goose poop every time I mow the lawn. Can I legally deal with them? And when I say “deal with,” I mean “kill.” Dan P., Noblesville

A: Simmer down, Rambo. The Hoosierist shares your annoyance with our ever-growing Canada geese population, but violence isn’t the answer. Or at least, not gunplay.

It’s hard to believe these gigantic birds, nicknamed “sky carp,” were all but unknown here only a few decades ago. Yet today 130,000 live in the state year-round, fouling golf courses with their excrement, harassing passersby, and trampling suburban yards into mud bogs. The banks of a retention pond make an ideal goose habitat, which is where they congregate, raising a new generation of honking, hissing poop machines every year from March through June.

They can be stopped, but it takes time. And no firearms. If you live in town, shooting at the birds (which under any circumstances requires federal and state permits) is out of the question. The first step is to make sure your neighbors want the geese gone as badly as you do. And if you’ve got some nimrod who’s feeding them, he has to stop. Once everyone’s on board, it’s time to mess up the geese’s comfort zone. If you’ve got a retention pond with short grass all the way to the water’s edge, see if you can get the subdivision to stop the obsessive mowing. A four-foot buffer of tall grass at the waterline discourages nesting. Also, keep an eagle eye out for new avian arrivals, and then harass them until they leave. Leaf-blowers and air horns are good for this. Finally, remove nests before the geese have a chance to lay eggs in them. Just be sure they don’t catch you, or it’s to the hospital you’re a-goin’.

You can’t shoot or trap adult birds or mess with their eggs without squaring things first with the state. And you absolutely can’t sic your dogs on them. Instead, steel yourself for a long struggle. If the geese are already established, it will take a long time—we’re talking years—to run them off.

Editors – this needs an illustration credit

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue.