Wednesday 20 December 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 20/12/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Making merry: Washington’s winter holiday market

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / Christopher Cermak

Throwing a curve ball

The winter holiday market in downtown Washington is just off of Gallery Place, near the stadium where two of the city’s main sports teams – the Capitals (ice hockey) and the Wizards (basketball) – play their home games. The market is in its 18th year and acts as a symbol of the area’s gentrification. In the 1990s much of downtown Washington was a no-go area; its revival started with the opening of the sports arena in 1997. Now plans to move the city’s sports teams to a new facility outside of the area risk reversing that progress.

Earlier this month the owner of both the Capitals and the Wizards made a tentative deal to move the teams from Gallery Place to a new arena to be built in Potomac Yard, a sprawling piece of undeveloped land that sits southwest of the US capital in Alexandria, Virginia. Having dangled a record state subsidy for the arena’s construction, Virginia’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, is celebrating. Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, is licking her wounds.

The move is part of a trend of wealthy owners moving teams to wealthier suburbs or cities, attracted by lucrative financing offers. The Californian city of Oakland is set to lose its baseball team, the Athletics, to a better stadium-building offer from Las Vegas. And while I don’t begrudge these new locations the spoils that come with attracting major sports franchises, what’s concerning is the mess that these relocations can leave behind.

Many US downtown areas have been in danger of falling apart since the pandemic. Their revival requires investment, as well as more mixed-use developments that include residential buildings. And keeping sports arenas downtown, rather than out in the suburbs, certainly helps. After all, gentrification isn’t a one-way street. Cities and neighbourhoods can also backslide if we let them.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Image: Getty Images

Transport / Europe

On the fast track

Yann Leriche, the CEO of Getlink, has announced plans to allow other operators to run train services through the Channel Tunnel, which connects the UK to continental Europe. Getlink has managed and operated its infrastructure for almost 30 years. For all this time, Eurostar has had an effective monopoly on Eurotunnel passenger train services, which link London to Paris, Lille, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Leriche also mentioned Cologne and Geneva as two potential new destinations from London, both of which might be operational by 2030. Earlier this year, Spanish start-up Evolyn announced its intention to run high-speed Avelia trains between London and Paris, and Virgin Trains is also rumoured to be interested in running a service. Whatever happens, it looks as though it’s full speed ahead for rail travellers in northern Europe.

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / Global

Open for business

South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang is set to acquire struggling luxury marketplace Farfetch and pump in emergency funding of up to $500m (€456m), which will allow it to continue operating. As part of the new rescue deal, Farfetch, a public company, will become private and all previous shareholder investments, including that of its founder and chief executive, José Neves, will be wiped.

“Coupang is a very positive and future-looking company,” fashion journalist Dana Thomas tells The Monocle Minute. “It is building the next-generation e-commerce experience and this is exactly what Farfetch needs. We’re seeing the rejuvenation of a company that was long stuck in its old business model. This is an exciting and refreshing deal for the luxury market.”

Illustration: Karin Kellner

Advent gift guide / Global

Right on time

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Then let us inspire you with our Advent gift guide. Every day until Christmas, we will be showcasing one item featured in our Alpino newspaper, which is available to buy in kiosks and from our online shop.

Moon Phase Retrograde Date by Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin watches might look minimal but they contain plenty of complexity within. The Moon Phase Retrograde Date watch has a readjustment cycle of 122 years – long enough to keep it on time for a lifetime and beyond.

Beyond the Headlines

THE LIST / Mountain media

Peak power

With skiing season upon us, we list the newspapers, magazines and radio stations to watch out for when you hit the resorts.

Headquartered in Chambéry, Altus magazine is now in its 40th year. Some 170,000 copies are distributed annually across 12 of the best French and Swiss ski resorts, from Val d’Isère and Méribel to Verbier and Crans-Montana.

Rocky Mountain Outlook
This weekly newspaper serves an area of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta called the Bow Valley. Operating from the small town of Canmore, which is flanked on all sides by snowcapped mountains and all manner of Canadian wildlife, it distributes 9,000 copies a week, covering stories of daily life.

Kitzbüheler Anzeiger
At an altitude of 760 metres in the Austrian Alps, the town of Kitzbühel fills up with skiers at this time of year. The town’s paper of record covers both local stories and the steady stream of well-heeled visitor arrivals (the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Prince Albert of Monaco are regular guests). With its expanded coverage of the broader Kitzbühel region, the newspaper has become something of an overachiever.

Radio Méribel
The demand for round-the-clock radio content in Méribel emerged when the Savoyard village of Albertville hosted the Winter Olympics in 1992. More than 30 years later, Radio Méribel, a small station based in the resort’s tourism office, now has more than 2,000 listeners a day.

Engadiner Post
Since 1894, this newspaper has been serving the local communities of Graubünden, an area in the Swiss Alps that encompasses St Moritz and the Engadin valley, with in-depth coverage of local politics, culture and society. What started as a weekly German-language publication now prints three issues a week in German and Romansh, with a circulation of 7,000, from its offices in St Moritz and Scuol.

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Culture

2023 in review

Laura Snapes, Andrew Male and Leila Latif join Robert Bound in the studio to round up the best of this year’s albums, books and films.


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