Watching soccer at Yankees’ baseball stadium still looks pretty screwy

There have been soccer matches at the new Yankee Stadium before, but with NYC F.C. set to take the pitch there next spring, more soccer writers are starting to sit up and take notice. So it was that SB Nation watched yesterday’s Liverpool-Manchester City friendly and responded with a resounding ew:

Camera angles that can’t show near the width of the pitch are not good. You can’t see anyone’s runs and even simple 20-yard passes take the ball out of the screen. The camera angle is way too low to adequately show soccer.

And the background for the pitch is a bunch of big ads. Which are broken up by a unused baseball scoreboard. Which is then broken up by a bullpen. Which is then broken up by a batter’s eye.

On top of Yankee Stadium’s unsuitability for TV, it has a very, very narrow pitch and the grass laid over the infield is terrible, causing every ball over it to bounce high.

Now, it’s arguably more important how fans see the game from the actual seats than on TV, but that doesn’t seem so hot either. (Note: I haven’t been to a soccer match there yet myself, nor have I spoken with anyone who has. Commenters, that’s your cue.)

NYC F.C. is in a tough situation, because it desperately wants to be the “city” team in contrast to the New Jersey-based New York Red Bulls — “City” is literally its name, even — but there has been zero interest from the new New York city council leadership in throwing lots of city money, land, or tax breaks at a new soccer-only stadium, and NYC F.C.’s bazillionaire owner has shown zero interest in funding one completely out of his own pocket. Sheikh Mansour apparently decided it was worth an expansion fee of $100 million to get a foothold in the New York market (if for no other reason, to help promote the sale of Man City kits), and MLS decided it was worth putting up with a weird-ass seating chart in order to get a $100 million check. Which is all fine, just so long as nobody starts arguing that this makes it New York City’s problem that NYC F.C. fans have a funny view of the field. But nobody would ever do that, right?

Minneapolis council pushes to stop Vikings stadium from committing mass bird murder

Have I neglected to mention that the new Minnesota Vikings stadium is going to kill birds? Well, it’s going to kill birds. Thousands of them, according to the Minnesota Audubon Society, which says that migratory birds will crash into the stadium’s enormous glass window unless the Vikings spring for $1.1 million in glazed glass that birds will be able to tell apart from open air.

Now five Minneapolis city council members have introduced a resolution, to be considered tomorrow, to “call on” the Vikings and the state stadium authority to build a bird-safe stadium. Added one of the bill’s sponsors, councilmember Linea Palmisano, “Ironically, a thousand years ago, the real Vikings made use of birds for helping with navigation.” (And no, I don’t think that’s actually irony.)

Now, the Minneapolis council was never crazy about the Vikings stadium deal — it took a last-second flip of two members’ votes to get it approved — and this resolution is decidedly non-binding. It does help raise the profile of the bird issue, some, though (if an article in the New York freaking Times wasn’t enough profile), and apparently state construction guidelines require bird-friendliness, so the Vikings may yet have to spring for an extra million bucks for the fancy glass. Given that they’re getting $200 million more in state and city subsidies than the stadium is costing to build, they can probably afford it.

Raiders execs throw dart at map, pick San Antonio as place to visit for move threat

With their rivals in the development rights land rush the Oakland A’s already having played the move threat card, it was only a matter of time before the Raiders did the same. The only question was which city owner Mark Davis would play footsie with, and it looks like the winner is … San Antonio? Sure, San Antonio.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and two top lieutenants met recently with several San Antonio officials to discuss the potential of moving his NFL team from the Bay Area to the Alamo City, local leaders involved in the talks confirmed Tuesday…

Late Tuesday, after the Express-News published a version of this story on its websites, [city manager Sheryl] Sculley issued a memo to the City Council.

“I was asked to meet two weeks ago with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis, and members of his staff. Mr. Davis has expressed interest in a possible relocation of his NFL team to San Antonio and we are engaged in preliminary due diligence,” she wrote. “The agenda for this visit included a tour of the Alamodome and meetings with local business leaders.”

This is, of course, what sports team owners do when they’re seeking a new stadium — in the words of Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, “go, and have a nice dinner and come back.” San Antonio’s even been through this before in the recentish past with the Florida Marlins in 2006, though then local officials had the good sense to tell the Marlins to quit using them just to make Miami jealous.

Savvy leverage notwithstanding, would moving the Raiders to San Antonio make any sense? San Antonio is a relatively tiny TV market (36th overall) compared to the Bay Area, but, of course, TV market size doesn’t mean nearly as much in the NFL as it does in other sports where local cable deals are in play. The bigger problem is San Antonio’s stadium: The Alamodome is 21 years old, and while it’s no doubt a fine enough place to watch a football game (assuming anyone really likes watching football games from anywhere other than their own couch), NFL teams have made it quite clear that any building over two decades old is considered a dump.

Is there a possibility that these Raiders-San Antonio talks will get serious, and San Antonio will dangle a sweetheart lease and maybe some new scoreboards in an attempt to lure an NFL team? Sure. Is it something Oakland fans and elected officials should be losing sleep over at the moment? Probably not. As my Sports on Earth colleague Mike Tanier writes:

Remember that NFL owners will do anything to make you pay for stadium improvements. If all it takes is a leaked story about driving around the Alamodome and having drinks with city council representatives, we are making things too easy for them. They should at least be subjected to used-car salesman humiliations. A couple from San Antonio were looking at this team just yesterday, and that’s them on the phone right now, so give me a yes, fast! Let me bring that to my sales manager.

UNLV scales back stadium plans, hopes casinos will let it have half a billion dollars now

It looks like the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is giving up on building a domed football stadium — at least the domed part. UNLV acting president Don Snyder announced yesterday that the school would be scaling back its plans to only a 45,000-seat stadium with “sun shades.”

The reason? The casinos didn’t want the competition:

[University regents Cedric] Crear and [James Dean] Leavitt have drawn push-back from resort industry representatives such as MGM’s [Rick] Arpin, who said at a recent meeting that a domed stadium could “cannibalize” events from other Las Vegas venues. MGM and Anschutz Entertainment Group are building a 20,000-seat, $375 million arena near New York-New York, scheduled to open in 2016.

At the same meeting, Paul Chakmak of Boyd Gaming Corp. noted, “The resort industry is not asking for a stadium to be built.”

Whatever the reason, a non-domed stadium would cost an estimated $523 million instead of $833 million, so that’s got to be a plus. (It also couldn’t host indoor events, which is what Crear and Leavitt are griping about, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine what indoor events would be worth spending an extra $310 million for.) Snyder says about $100 million could be raised via naming-rights and luxury suite sales, which only leaves $423 million via sales tax hikes or, you know, something. One hurdle at a time.

Poll on whether Red Wings arena will create jobs finds that journalists are addicted to stupid polls

Let’s talk about polls. Polls can be very useful things when you want to know what people want, whether it’s who they want to vote for in the next election, or what policies they want to pursue, or whether they hate where they live. They are not so useful when you’re asking about statements of fact: Trying to determine whether the Higgs boson exists by polling people on the street, I think we can all agree, would be pretty pointless.

This, then, is a very, very bad poll:

Poll: Are job projections for new Detroit Red Wings arena development accurate?

Right now “no” is handily beating “yes,” with “I have no idea” a close third. Sadly, there’s no option for “Wait, you’re asking me?”

Milwaukee paper still fixated on where to build Bucks arena no one knows how to pay for

Oh, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sportswriter Don Walker, what have you written now about the Bucks arena debate?

Stakeholders involved in the discussion of whether to build a new arena are in general agreement the building should be downtown.

In related news, the task force on whether we can afford a new car is in agreement that it should be red.

Vegas MLS stadium plan includes $28.6m shortfall, another $60m in dubious revenue projections

The developers hoping to build a soccer stadium in Las Vegas have released a two-page term sheet outlining how the finances would work. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the split would be 74% public, 26% private, but city officials say once negotiations are finished it would be closer to 50/50.

It’s good that Vegas city officials are admitting that negotiations aren’t done, because man, is that one mess of a term sheet. As I noted in the Sun article, the stadium operating agreement gets just one line — “further legal review is needed” — which means that there’s no way to tell who will get revenues from naming rights and other stadium revenue streams, nor who will pay annual operating costs of the arena. As I also noted to the Sun’s reporter, but it didn’t make the published story, the plan includes $4.3 million a year in proceeds from “non-MLS events” — a figure that even the term sheet acknowledges is “on the aggressive (high) side” and which is probably downright crazy given the number of 20,000-seat venues already scattered around Las Vegas or in the works. And there’s no backup plan for what would fill that gap — which would cover about a third of the costs of the $200 million stadium — if the non-MLS profits don’t materialize.

Add in that there’s already a $28.6 million funding gap that needs to be filled, and this is not the most ironclad stadium financing plan ever seen. Hopefully there will be more actual numbers before the city council is set to take its first vote on the plan on August 20.

NYCFC stadium news: There is no NYCFC stadium news

Hey, NYC F.C. Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti, what’s new on your plans for a soccer-only stadium in New York City, or maybe outside New York City?

Pernetti said there was “nothing new to report” on their search for a permanent stadium deal. “Same boring answer I gave you guys a while back,” he said. “It’s taking some time but at the same time we want to get it right. We want to take the time necessary to make sure we get it right.”

And what about a training facility, now that Manhattanville College has rejected the club’s overtures to train there?

“We are still looking at a couple of different options on a training facility,” Pernetti said. “We are not ready to talk about where we are going to go yet. We are trying to get some things ironed out but we expect to have an answer on that pretty soon.”

Probably best to get used to the weird soccer seating chart for Yankee Stadium, since it looks like the team will be there for a while. Apparently New York is going to be the poster child for teams willing to put up with bizarro seating charts in order to play in the city — which probably makes sense, given the size of the market, but is still an interesting turn of events. And kind of makes you wonder why New York needed to spend so much money on new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees when you can apparently play in a studio apartment and still rake in the dough.

UNLV stadium board member: Big ol’ sales tax hike would foot stadium bill nicely

When the University of Nevada-Las Vegas proposed building a $900 million football stadium back in February, school president Don Snyder said he would “look creatively” for ways to fund it. “Creatively,” it now appears, means asking for county-wide sales and hotel tax hikes:

A UNLV stadium board member, Regent James Dean Leavitt, proposed Wednesday that the Clark County sales tax and the lodging room tax be increased slightly to help pay for an on-campus domed stadium of 50,000-55,000 seats.

Leavitt said University of Nevada, Las Vegas students should also pay a suggested $100 toward a “perpetual fund” for major university projects such as a stadium or medical school.

Raising the county sales tax by 0.25% would generate an estimated $79 million a year in new revenues, while a room tax surcharge of 1% would generate $44 million a year; since $900 million in bonds would cost something like $60 million a year to pay off, this would certainly cover the bill. As to why Clark County would want to do such a thing, presumably Leavitt believes that stadium consultant’s nonsense about $500 million a year in economic impact from a new stadium, even though the actual operating profit is estimated to be just $13.9 million a year — or way, way less than the stadium bonds would cost to pay off.

Anyway, plenty of other members of the stadium board are opposed to one or the other of the tax hikes, so this will probably now enter the haggling stage for the time being. But with the board set to make recommendations to the state legislature by the end of September, it’s fair to say that we can see what direction this thing is heading in.

Wolff, Oakland agree on A’s lease; let the new stadium battles begin

Yeah, there’s no way Lew Wolff was going to let a few wording quibbles stand in the way of a lease extension he pretty much wrote himself. On Tuesday night, the Oakland A’s owner announced that he’d reached agreement with the city of Oakland on a new 10-year lease extension; while the Alameda County Board of Supervisors still needs to sign off on the plan, they were in favor of it all along, so it’s fair to say that this deal is done.

With that out of the way, Wolff can now move on to fighting with Raiders owner Mark Davis over who’ll get the rights to develop the Oakland Coliseum property, which increasingly looks like the prize that both team owners are looking to win in order to make new stadium deals happen. This looks set to be yet another multi-sided battle, in that not only are Wolff and Davis effectively bidding against each other, but each is no doubt going to try to extract the best deal out of Oakland and Alameda County, in terms of land price, tax breaks, and direct stadium subsidies. None of that has advanced much beyond the spitballing stage in either case, so we have lots and lots more fun battles to look forward to before there’s any kind of resolution here — assuming “resolution” is something you can ever really talk about in a sports industry where stadiums can be considered obsolete after only 14 years.