Ryan Howard Goes to Bat in Home-Size Derby

Since steroid-use and philandering seem to be so yesterday, can we expect sports celebrities to start competing on the home construction field? Will Derek Jeter's recently completed 30,875-square-footer in Tampa be deemed puny by anything Kobe Bryant has up his sleeve? Kobe has been linked to a massive new home under construction in Orange County, Calif., that has a two-level sports court. His agent bought the one-acre ocean-view lot three years ago for $9,450,000, says The Orange County Register.

And now word comes from Florida that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (above) is building himself a nifty $20 million, 17,500-square-foot mansion with a Venice-like canal in Belleaire Shore, near spring training camp. We would have expected a batting cage, but a canal will do.
It seems, though, that Howard is running into a little trouble from the town's enforcers. Home construction projects there need to be completed in 24 months, and as the Belleaire Bee and The 700 Level blog noted, Venice wasn't built in a day.

"Casa Del Howard," which according to the architect includes "a Venice-style lazy river running from the swimming pool underneath a series of bridges" and a bowling alley on the ground level with breakaway walls, will take closer to three years to build, which means that the locals have to decide whether to enforce their own rule or make an exception -- aka the Pandora's Box option.

Mind you, athletes with self-indulgent houses are nothing new. The bar was set--high, of course--by basketball great Wilt Chamberlain, who in 1971 built himself a Bel-Air house (pictured right, with the Stilt himself) with a retractable mirrored ceiling over the bed, a gold-lined hot tub and a swimming pool that flowed through the living room. Ursa Major, as the house was called, was remodeled by subsequent owners who replaced these fine features with a bit of modesty.

And of course there are plenty of athletes with big houses already that they wish someone would take off their hands. Here are some sports guys who, as we noted a few months ago, invite your offers.

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