If new Yankee Stadium is “venerable,” does that make Madison Square Garden 135 years old?

Today in rewriting history:

Jeter, 40, slashed a 3-1 knuckler from R.A. Dickey into the stands behind left field in Yankee Stadium for his first home run in 158 at-bats and his first at the venerable Stadium since July of 2013.

Yankee Stadium is five years old. I know this is only a sports column at AL.com (which is, sadly, apparently the site of the Birmingham News and several other papers, not what you might think it would be), but news of the demolition of the stadium built in 1923 and renovated in 1976 has trickled down to Alabama, hasn’t it?

Of course, this article also says of Jeter, “we know nothing about whom he dates,” so maybe columnist Roy S. Johnson lives in an alternate reality where the original Yankee Stadium is still standing, and Derek Jeter is an underappreciated star who toiled far from the limelight. If so, can I go there too?

Swing vote on Vegas MLS deal says she’s joined the “no” camp

If you’ve been staying up nights trying to understand how the latest Las Vegas MLS stadium financing plan works, you can probably stop, because it looks like the entire project just ground to a halt:

A proposed publicly subsidized soccer stadium in downtown Las Vegas appears doomed as Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, the swing vote on the deal, said Thursday she would vote against the proposed financing plan if the council vote were held today…

“I don’t feel like spending a lot of taxpayer monies on it. People do want a stadium, but they don’t want the use of public money,” Tarkanian said.

There are still two weeks to go before the council’s October 1 vote on whether to kill the soccer plan dead, which means lots of time for proponents to see if they can get Tarkanian to pull a Michelle Spence-Jones and name her price for switching her vote. Given that “use of public money” is an integral part of the plan, though, it seems like Tarkanian has drawn a line in the sand that’s going to be hard to erase. Not impossible to erase, mind you, since it’s local elected officials we’re talking about here, but still I wouldn’t go investing in any Vegas MLS season-ticket futures just now.

Detroit to use (DUNH dunh dunh!) interest-rate swaps in Red Wings arena deal

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved new terms for the Detroit Red Wings arena bonds this week that involve … frankly, I don’t entirely understand them either, despite an excellent Bill Shea article in Crain’s Detroit Business attempting to explain them. Suffice to say that the Downtown Development Authority will now be able to pay off the bonds more quickly if more tax revenue comes in than expected (instead of having a $15 million a year cap), plus there will be credit-default swaps, which nobody truly understands except that they almost broke the global economy.

[CORRECTION: In fact, they're so confusing that I confused interest-rate swaps, which is what the DDA will be using, with the related but distinct credit-default swaps. Interest rate swaps didn't almost destroy the global economy, just some municipal and state budgets. An interest rate swap is essentially a hedge against interest rates going up, but if interest rates instead go down, you end up paying more than you would have otherwise. With interest rates still at historic lows, that's not too likely, but there's still a decent chance that the DDA ends up spending money on the swaps that will gain it absolutely nothing in return.]

In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter much, or at least doesn’t matter as much as the $300 million or so that the arena will be costing the Michigan public. But just in case it blows up spectacularly when the DDA spends all its money collecting Pat Boone albums, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Georgia lawyer says arson at her house was retaliation for her opposing Braves stadium


Susan McCoy said an arsonist struck her East Cobb property early Thursday morning. The flames didn’t reach her 3,900-square-foot home but did destroy part of her fence, evergreens and other parts of her yard.

McCoy, a newly minted lawyer, said she had filed a complaint with the SEC asking it to examine the county’s plan to issue $397 million in bonds for construction of the new stadium; and she has been critical of the rushed deal’s lack of transparency and cost to taxpayers.

“Its retribution for speaking out,” she said. “I obviously struck a nerve.”

Disclosure: I’ve spoken with McCoy a couple of times about the Braves stadium deal (she’s filed an SEC complaint about the way it was negotiated, among other things) and she’s never struck me as anyone whose house I would want to burn down. Glad everyone is okay at least, except the poor trees, which really didn’t do anything to deserve this.

Hartford still proposing big subsidy for minor-league team, just a more confusing one

The Hartford $60 million minor-league stadium proposal for the New Britain Rock Cats isn’t dead after all! Rather, it’s metastasized into a $350 million project that would include a stadium, a brewery, a supermarket, housing, retail, parking, and a death ray. (Note: I may have misread about the death ray.) And how would Hartford residents be on the hook paying for?

“Zero on their real estate tax,” said Darrell Hill, the city’s chief operating officer. “All of the revenues identified are either coming from the [developer] themselves or by use of the various assets — meaning going to a game, parking in a facility, parking at a surface lot. There is no citywide tax associated with any of the revenues identified.”

Man, lots of qualifiers there. No “citywide” or “real estate” taxes would be going to the project, which sounds like they’re talking about taxes from a limited area getting kicked back — i.e., a TIF. And in fact, that’s exactly what they’re counting on:

The city anticipates reaping about $22.8 million over 30 years from ticket sales, parking and property taxes.

Now, $22.8 million over 30 years isn’t actually that much money, especially when you consider the city would be leasing the stadium for $4.67 million a year, then only getting $500,000 a year from the team in return. Other reports make it sound as if the $22.8 million would be the profit left over after the city pays the lease costs — which would be better, albeit a pretty slim margin based on how these things often turn out — but then the Hartford city council is also being asked to consider handing over the land for the development for only $1, which would tip things back to the red-ink side of the ledger. How far into red ink, it’s hard to say without some fancy calculations — but then, that’s usually the point of structuring deals this way, isn’t it?

Sacramento soccer team announces 20,000-seat stadium plan, says money will come from somewhere

Sacramento’s two-year-old USL Pro minor-league soccer franchise, Republic FC, announced plans yesterday to build a 20,000-seat stadium in the city’s downtown railyard if it’s admitted to MLS. And how would it be paid for?

Questions remain over how the stadium will be financed. Mayor Kevin Johnson has said no city money will be used to help build the facility. Nagle has said the Republic FC investor group will have the capacity to pay for the stadium, plus a league expansion fee of at least $70 million.

Sure, maybe? Larry Kelley, the developer who is planning to build a mixed-use district on the old railyard site, would be part of the Republic FC investment team, so it’s always possible he’d give them a break on the land as a kind of loss leader. Or “no city money to help build the facility” could really mean “city money, but only to help buy the land or provide tax breaks.” Nobody’s saying yet, but hey, pretty pictures!

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/17/6715747/sacramento-republic-fc-releases.html#storylink=cpy

Florida Panthers reassure fans they’re not moving … yet

From the Florida Panthers veiled threat department:

As we close in on the one-year anniversary of our ownership of the Florida Panthers, we want to reiterate our commitment to Broward County, South Florida and our Panthers fans and business partners. As we said at the press conference when we bought the team, we view ourselves as stewards of the team for the community and our plan is to build an organization that makes South Florida proud and to win the Stanley Cup in South Florida. Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise…
It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large.

In other words, “Only you can help us meet our goal of sticking around.” The only thing missing is the offer of a tote bag.

[Also, the Panthers aren't actually losing money. But shh, don't tell anyone, gotta keep those phones ringing!]

Atlanta mayor offers Hawks $150m not to move, not that they were threatening to

Man, did everything in the stadium and arena world happen yesterday, or what? Well, let’s get started and see how far we get:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s getting involved in negotiations over who will buy the Hawks now that majority owner Bruce Levenson stepped down over revelations that he ordered staffers to fire black cheerleaders and play less hip-hop music in order to placate racist white fans. And by “involved” he means “offering them public money to insure they stay in town“:

Reed said the city will likely be willing to offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. He said there could be as much as $150 million available after the city sells Turner Field, the current home of the Braves, though the mayor said that process has been held up by the baseball team’s refusal to set a definite date for its departure.

Now, nobody involved with the Hawks has said boo about moving the team, but apparently Reed is concerned enough to throw $150 million on the table without even being asked. It’s especially dubious given that the Hawks’ lease requires them to pay off the remaining bonds on their arena (around $100 million at this point) before they could leave, plus another $75 million in an early termination fee if they left before the 2018-19 season. Plus, of course, they’d have to have somewhere to move to that would be more lucrative than Atlanta.

Reed is talking about asking any new owner to commit to staying in town for another 30 years, which, given that the arena bonds will currently be paid off in 2028, really amounts to a 16-year extension on their lease. $150 million in exchange for staying put for 16 years … I guess it could be worse, but it still amounts to paying the Hawks almost $10 million a year just to keep on doing what they’re doing already. This negative rent trend is really starting to get out of hand, though I guess in a world where the NFL expects musicians to pay to play at the Super Bowl halftime show, it’s not entirely unexpected.

New Vegas MLS plan omits $4m/year in double-counted rent, adds $4m/year in new mystery money

The revised AECOM report on a proposed Las Vegas MLS stadium is out! And the answer to how it deals with that mysterious double-counting of $4 million in rent is that it just omits the entire $4 million from operating revenue, which it absolutely should, because it’s not. (It would go to pay the city’s construction debt.)

With the $4 million gone, the projected $1.7-2.8m in net operating income turns into … $2.4-3.5m in net operating income. Whaaaaaaa?

Here are the relevant tables from the original report (above) and revised report (below). Care to play One of These Things Is Not Like the Other?
Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.30.10 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.29.49 PMFirst off, there’s a new $2.7 million a year item called “tenant reimbursement,” which further down is defined as:

We assume that the MLS team will pay a share of the facility’s overall expenses, based on its share of stadium usage (as a percent of total attendance). This line item represents a payment to the stadium from the team, and is assumed to be approximately $2.7 million per year.

I have no frickin’ clue what this is. (Nor do the Las Vegas Review-Journal or Sun, apparently, since neither mentions it in their coverage.) Is the MLS team suddenly agreeing to share more revenue than the $4 million a year in rent plus $500,000 a year in non-soccer revenue that was previously proposed? Would an MLS team make enough profit to afford all this? And if not, would the city have to cover any fees that would otherwise leave the team running losses, as was previously reported? Reply cloudy, ask again later.

All that’s still not enough to turn a profit for the city, though, so AECOM then lops off about $1 million a year in “management fees” (money that the city would pay the MLS team for running the stadium, because why would they run their own stadium for free, jeez?) and $800,000 a year towards a “capital maintenance account” (because why account for future maintenance costs now, when that will just make the numbers look bad).

So either the would-be Vegas MLS team is proposing to increase its contribution by $3.7 million a year (good!) or it’s juggling numbers around randomly to make sure that the economic analysis shows the city coming out ahead (less good!). Tomorrow’s public hearing is going to be some kind of fun.

Vegas officials offer “pep talk” on soccer stadium, no explanation yet for double-counting rent

Last night marked the first “town hall” meeting on Las Vegas’s beleaguered MLS stadium plan, and the economic consultant’s report that was supposed to be reissued by Friday to fix that $4 million a year typo … still is nowhere to be seen. What Vegas residents got instead is what the Las Vegas Review-Journal called a “pep talk” from city officials and soccer boosters about just how great a new stadium would be. Check out how the Las Vegas Sun described it:

City staff along with developer Justin Findlay, managing partner of Findlay Sports and Entertainment, fielded questions. They explained the stadium would be paid for using a combination of city room tax dollars and rent from the soccer team. If the team is successful and stays in the stadium for 30 years, the city’s share of the project costs would shrink to $82 million, 41 percent of the total.

City Manager Betsy Fretwell acknowledged that if the soccer team struggles and has to shut down, the city would be on the hook for the estimated $8 million annual bond payment. She downplayed the chances of that happening and said there would be time to fix problems if the team struggles to draw big enough crowds.

Not to tell Findlay and Fretwell what to do, but “If the team does well we’ll only lose $82 million, and if it does poorly we’ll be on the hook for much more — but don’t worry, we’re sure it’ll all be great!” isn’t much of a pep talk in my book. But there are five more public meetings to go in the next nine days, so they have plenty of time to work on their material.

Meanwhile, the Review-Journal reports that the AECOM consulting report is due to be discussed at today’s city council meeting, so maybe we’ll actually get some answers then about how the consultants managed to double-count the proposed MLS team’s rent, once as arena bond payments, once as city operating revenue. Stay tuned.