The New York Times real estate section has a long piece up today about plans for a new D.C. United stadium, because … actually, I’m not sure why. The New York Times real estate section usually focuses on, you know, New York, and even if the D.C. council is voting on the United stadium plan today, it seems a bit outside the usual bounds, but, you know, whatever.
The article itself interviews the owner of D.C. United, the owner of the development company that owns the stadium land, D.C.’s planning director, D.C.’s incoming mayor, and one woman who lives in the planned stadium neighborhood, presumably for local color. My Vice Sports colleague Aaron Gordon has put together a Storify detailing all the flaws in this piece, but seriously, people, it’s a New York Times real estate section article. This is not, and never has been, journalism; it’s a service provided to realtor advertisers that dutifully identifies which neighborhoods real estate professionals are trying to hype as up-and-coming, enabling them to sell more housing there at inflated prices, and thus plow more money back into ads in the Times real estate section. It’s a win-win! Unless you 1) rent in a neighborhood thus targeted or 2) prefer to have news in your newspaper, but those people will be crushed like grapes by the tide of history, right?
Anyway, if you insist on reading the article beyond the “Real Estate” slug at the top, Gordon’s Storify is a worthwhile corrective. But really, you have better uses for your time. How about this article on how economic inequality is helping to drive the Uber economy? Or one about how ground squirrels are accelerating global warming? I never did like the look of those guys.
Hamilton County’s sweetheart deals with its sports teams doesn’t stop at having to build a new scoreboard for the Cincinnati Bengals: The county also has to replace all the seats at the Reds‘ stadium, just 11 years after it opened, because the old ones all broke and they were out of warranty. (Yes, apparently Hamilton County couldn’t even buy seats that were guaranteed to last a decade. Yes, apparently Hamilton County around the turn of the millennium had the worst contract negotiators ever.)
This will all cost county taxpayers $1.3 million, but on the bright side I guess at least it’ll create some decent local jobs for seat installers—
County officials say they saved more than $3 million by hiring a local company to design new seats and hiring former jail inmates – participants in a county work re-entry program – to install them.
Pay for this seat installation work? $10 an hour. Okay, so Hamilton County knows how to play hardball with some people — just not so much sports team owners.
Today in people who used to be famous talking about where the Oakland Raiders might move, it’s former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, who says that the team could be taking his city seriously as — hey, wait a minute! This is a repeat!
In newsier NFL maybe-relocation news, the San Diego Chargers owners have announced that they’re not opting out of their lease for 2015, which means they’re not moving to Los Angeles to play in a stadium that hasn’t even been planned yet, either. The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer takes this as a sign that no NFL teams are moving to L.A. next year, on the theory that if somebody were, then the Chargers would want in too to avoid being left stuck in San Diego with an old stadium and two other teams on their doorstep. I’d stick with the theory that nobody’s moving to L.A. because there’s nowhere to play there that’s any better than teams’ old stadium back home, though.
The city of Detroit has picked Larson Realty as its developer for the site of Tiger Stadium (and hey, shoutout from Crain’s reporter Amy Haimerl to FoS correspondent David Dyte!), which means we get more renderings of the plan to preserve the old ballfield and surround it with low-rise buildings. Not necessarily better than the last set of renderings, but more:
(There’s also an image showing the new Police Athletic League building surrounded by what appear to be Cybermen ghosts, but that’s too disturbing to include here.)
Anyway, still many details to go, but it’s looking promising that the old Tiger Stadium field will be preserved, anyway, even if it’s too late for the stadium itself. (Though it’s marginally worrisome that the flagpole isn’t visible on these.) Which is good, because I still need to get out there for a softball game.
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is moving ahead with a full-court press (I know, I know, mixed sports metaphor, but I don’t actually know if there’s a hockey term for this) for a new downtown arena for his team, which he says would be a “game-changer” that “impacts the city in a huge way; it impacts the organization in a huge way.” And for those wondering about why anyone needs to replace an arena that was just opened in 1996, Melnyk has this to say:
“This building, believe it or not, was not built to last 30 to 40 years like people think. We spent a lot of money to keep this building looking the way it is, but … you have to build a new one eventually. I hope in my lifetime,” Melnyk said.
That’s right: The Senators owner (not Melnyk at the time, but his predecessor Rod Bryden) may have spent $188 million and gotten a controversial rezoning of farmland and collected federal money and loan guarantees for a highway interchange and then dumped all its debt through bankruptcy, but he didn’t do that because he wanted an arena that would last! Everybody knows that arenas don’t last 30 or 40 years these days. Or even 20, apparently.
The backstory, of course, is that Bryden wanted to use the arena as the anchor of a suburban retail district, and then that didn’t work so well (see: bankruptcy), so it makes some sense that they’d be interested in moving downtown. Why Ottawa itself would want to chip in to make that happen — and devote
municipally publicly owned land to the project as well, instead of dedicating it to another development project that might not require subsidies — is less clear, but Melnyk is sure to keep saying “impacts the city in a huge way” over and over until somebody starts to believe it.
In case you were wondering what’s up with Chris Hansen’s Seattle arena plans, the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker had an article yesterday confirming that nothing is happening anytime soon. In short:
- The final environmental impact study isn’t due until February, then there will be appeals, then the city council will need to vote on it. By the time all this is done, it will likely be 2016.
- Not that that matters much, because Hansen won’t start building until he has a team, and he doesn’t have one. Conceivably the Milwaukee Bucks might become available if they can’t get their arena demands met in Wisconsin, but as Baker notes, “that’s theoretical.” An NHL team is more likely, but the current arena deal requires basketball, and neither Hansen nor Seattle Mayor Ed Murray seems excited about changing it to be hockey-first.
In other words, same as it ever was. But bookmark this for the next time sportswriters speculate about any number of teams relocating to Seattle.
Those who recall the original Brooklyn Nets arena slogan of “Jobs, Housing, and Hoops!” may have been wondering when the “housing” part will enter the equation, what with development still halted on the modular housing tower whose builder quit saying it was financially unfeasible. Down the block from the arena, though, there’s another building going up, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was excited to announce yesterday that it will be all affordable units:
“There are very few phrases I like better than 100% affordable housing, so this program is off to a good start.”
As Crain’s New York reports, though, “affordable” doesn’t actually mean so much affordable:
The 298 apartments at 535 Carlton will be available to tenants from five different income tiers: half for tenants who earn up to 165% of the area median income for a family of four, which is $83,900 a year; 15% for tenants earning up to 145% of the AMI; 5% for those earning up to 100%; 25% for those earning up to 60%; and 5% for those earning up to 40%. More than half the tenants in the new building will pay rent of about $3,500 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
Yes, it’s still housing, and yes, there’s some benefit to getting more apartments of any kind in a borough that’s facing rising demand. (Though there’s also a growing amount of evidence that new upscale development tends to drive even more increased demand than it helps to quench.) But it still means that the overall project is getting something on the order of $2 billion in cash and land and tax breaks to build a private sports arena and an unknown number of apartments that will mostly be way more expensive than most locals can afford. But at least you can’t put a price on giving Brooklynites the chance to watch … er, professional basketball?
It’s that time again! If you love, or even like, or even find yourself enraged by but can’t live without what you’ve read on Field of Schemes this past year, please consider becoming an FoS Supporter. In addition to the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped allow me to devote multiple hours to this site every day and at least approach minimum wage in return, you get stuff!
- Full-Year Supporters ($100) receive an ad of their choice in the top right corner of this space, on a rotating basis, for 12 months. They also get all the premiums listed below.
- Half-Year Supporters ($50) receive the same premiums and the ad, but only for (wait for it) six months.
- Mini-Supporters ($25) receive just the premiums.
Premiums: In addition to the FoS Supporter pins that we debuted last year, you’ll receive a limited-edition set of 12 stadium and arena trading cards, with photos taken by myself and FoS correspondent David Dyte (photographer/author of As Seen In Brooklyn — see more of his photos here), and all your favorite stadium swindle stats and trivia on the back. Design isn’t completely finalized yet, but they’ll look something like this:
You’ll also get access to live chats with myself (and, I’m hoping, some other stadium experts as well) throughout the year. Although, after the initial round of chats this year, I’ve concluded that these work better if they’re open to questions from all, not just Supporters, so most 2015 chats won’t be subscription-only. Your donations will still help me afford the time to organize and conduct the chats, though, so if you think that’s worth some of your hard-earned cash, please consider Supportership. To sign up, click here! That’s here! (Or the button below, which works the same.)
Any questions, drop me an email, or just ask in comments below. And as always, huge thanks to those who have contributed over the last year and a half of the Supporter program: I’ve been able to provide far more comprehensive coverage of the ever-expanding world of sports (and sometimes non-sports) subsidies as a result, and both I and the rest of the readers of this site are eternally grateful.
There’s a long article in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal profiling the “two Bobs” on either side of the city’s MLS stadium proposal: Bob Beers, the councilmember who’s been savaging the proposal on his blog, and Bob Coffin, the councilmember who was agin the stadium plan until it was amended to include $25 million in parks for his district, after which he was fer it. (Coffin says he finds accusations that he was “bribed” to support the deal “amusing.”)
The most notable bit, possibly, comes at the very end, where Coffin has this to say about how throwing public dollars at private enterprises can be good sometimes:
“I’m used to dealing with competing interests … People who want zero public dollars haven’t seen how things are built in this state. Tesla. Can I say Tesla? Can say I say that five or six times?”
You can say it all you want, but it might not mean what you think it means.
And today in wild speculation about the future of the Florida Panthers, outgoing Broward County mayor Barbara Sharief says that Panthers co-owner Vincent Viola wants $78 million in operating subsidies over the next 14 years, or else he might take the team elsewhere. And that would be bad because AEG’s contract to bring concerts to the BB&T Center is with the Panthers, not the county, and without that “it would be very difficult for us to book shows and to fill up the arena. So essentially … we would have a concrete dinosaur just sitting there.” (Presumably there would be no way for the county to cut its own deal with AEG, because if the Panthers left there would be too many old memories for them to want to book concerts into Broward without breaking down in tears.)
You may remember Sharief as the mayor who earlier this year hired a consultant to see whether it would be cost-effective to meet Viola’s subsidy demands in order to keep the Panthers in town, notwithstanding that the Panthers’ lease runs through 2028 and Viola isn’t actually offering to extend the lease any if he gets his $78 million. County mayors rotate each year, so Sharief will return to being a regular county commissioner in 2015, but she took one last shot at some publicity with this Panthers announcement, which included “a preliminary study that shows the BB&T Center is worth $450 million, but would be valued at just $60 million without the Panthers.” Study not actually included on Sharief’s website, but she does give her phone number and suggest that readers call with any questions, so feel free.