Proposed St. Louis stadium for Rams is on site of sacred Indian burial mounds (no, really)

What does the St. Louis Rams stadium demand saga need, now that it’s already been through an arbitrator ruling that Rams owner Stan Kroenke could break his lease thanks to the city’s terrible contract lawyers, Kroenke refusing to talk to the governor’s stadium tax force when they call, proposals to spend more than $400 million in state money without explaining where it would come from, and controversies over tearing down historic warehouses to make way for a new stadium? How about, I dunno, the new stadium being built atop an ancient Indian burial mound? Can we get that?

Big Mound, which was 319 feet long, 158 feet wide and 34 feet high, was at the northern end of the St. Louis formation.

Most of the rest of the mounds were in the footprint of the proposed football stadium.

Yep, the Rams stadium mess officially now has everything. Not that this will likely be a major factor given that St. Louis demolished its mounds in the 19th century (the ones across the river are still there), but you’ve still got to appreciate St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan’s suggestion that the city should just reconstruct the mounds instead as a tourist attraction, since “it would be a lot cheaper to rebuild the mounds than to build a stadium. Plus, the owners could never threaten to take the team away. The owners died centuries ago.”

 

Milwaukee paper says don’t give up on Bucks arena now, just because no one has money to pay for it

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board wants you to know that just because three year after the owner of the Bucks started agitating for a new arena, everybody is still just staring at each other wondering who’s going to pay the half-billion-dollar-plus price tag, they still think it’s a great idea. Because “everyone is still talking about a new arena in Milwaukee. And when everyone talks, something usually happens.” And because “a small city in a cold climate needs all the quality-of-life amenities it can get.” And also because “if Milwaukee wants to remain an ‘NBA city,’ the city must comply with NBA standards,” which are never defined, by either the paper or the NBA, but never mind about that, Seattle wants your teeeeeeeeam!

Not that the Journal Sentinel editors think Milwaukee should just roll over and give the new Bucks owners anything they want, oh no: They suggest the state could kick in $150 million, the city and county kicking in something that “may depend on the size and scope of any nearby development spurred by a new arena” (why, we’re again not told). And then maybe the Bucks owners will actually kick in something more than $150 million out of their own pockets, notwithstanding that the Journal Sentinel itself has already reported that they won’t.

In other words, there’s nothing new here, other than “Jeez, guys, everyone’s been talking about an arena without knowing how to pay for it for years now, why give up on that momentum now?” And, presumably, trying to turn up the heat on elected officials to get a deal done, especially when you consider that it ends like this:

Where’s former Gov. Tommy Thompson when we need him? He’d know exactly what to do.

What has Thompson been up to since leaving Wisconsin elected office, anyway? Oh, right, lobbying his old bosses in government for Medicaid changes that would directly benefit his private companies. Yeah, he would no doubt know exactly what to do, but something tells me he’d more likely be sitting on the other side of the negotiating table.

Wrigley Field still complete wreck nine days before opener, Cubs considering Banks “tribute” to hide it

Apologies for not posting any recent photos of the mess that is Wrigley Field as opening day approaches. Fortunately, Deadspin has us covered, with a full gallery of Wrigley bleachers destruct-o-porn courtesy of their readers. This is probably the wrecked-est looking one:

Of course, fans on opening day (just nine days away, people! on national TV!) won’t see all this mess, because Cubs management has a great idea to take care of that:

The Cubs are considering covering the incomplete bleachers with a tribute to late Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Ricketts said, but nothing has been finalized.

The Ernie Banks Memorial Tarp — I can hardly wait.

MLS commissioner says no new Minnesota stadium, no new Minnesota team, see?

Remember way back on Wednesday when MLS announced that it would give Minneapolis an expansion franchise if it built a new soccer-only stadium, and commissioner Don Garber didn’t specify what would happen if the stadium wasn’t built? Apparently Garber couldn’t stand the suspense, because yesterday he said this:

“We would then, as an ownership group, take a step back and decide whether we wanted to come to Minnesota,” Garber said.

“We have other options around the country, some of which with very detailed soccer-stadium plans, and we would have to make that decision at that time.”

In other words, this.

Garber may have decided he needed to drive home the message because Gov. Mark Dayton has been busily insisting that he has no intention of approving using any public money to help build a new stadium just for Minnesota United, even going so far as to say that “stadium fatigue” has set in after the public had to build new homes for the Twins and Vikings. You know, that Vikings stadium that got built in large part because Dayton made it a personal crusade to get it done, even if it meant promising to pay for it with a wacky gambling scheme that ended up generating zero revenue and having to be supplemented from the general fund. I suppose coming up with ideas like that can be tiring.

If nothing else, this is a message to MLS that while Garber may think it’s the next big player in the U.S. sports world, local elected officials aren’t quite going to jump to attention like they do when the NFL makes demands. Though if your business model is “give a team to any city with an ownership group willing to pay our expansion fee and which will give us a stadium,” I suppose there are always more fish in the sea. Hello, Albuquerque?

 

Bucks owners say “exploring” added development, so why make fuss over them only funding third of arena?

Great news, everybody! The owners of the Milwaukee Bucks may only want to put in less than a third of the construction cost of a new arena, and nobody may have any ideas how to pay for the rest, but as soon as they get gifted with that, they’re willing to build some for-profit development next to it on their own dime!

“Not only have our owners committed a sizable investment for the new arena, they’re exploring investments in potential ancillary development,” team spokesman Jake Suski said Thursday. “They want to be actively involved with the city, county and state in the planning and help assemble a world-class development team to see this bold vision realized.”

You know, we really should take a moment to stop and appreciate the rhetorical artistry here: Not only are we willing to pay for part of an arena that will entirely benefit only us, but we’re also thinking of maybe paying for some other development that will also benefit us! Aren’t we generous? It’s almost worthy of a prize of some sort.

L.A. unions get some jobs thrown at them, decide they love Inglewood stadium plan after all

Yeah, that didn’t take long. Not even two weeks after the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor launched a petition drive to block St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s planned Inglewood stadium, the petition drive is off, because the two sides have cut a deal:

“We now have certainty that the project will be an economic engine for the entire region and help turn the tide against poverty-level jobs in Los Angeles,” said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Neither side is saying what Kroenke agreed to in order to buy off the labor group — and it’s just a private agreement, not a publicly negotiated community benefits agreement, so we may never know — but now it’s an “economic engine” all of a sudden, so surely it’s more than just agreeing to a certain percentage of union jobs! Either that, or union leaders are more concerned about the narrow interests of their members than about the community as a whole. Nah, that could never happen.

Wrigley renovation could take extra year, everyone finding new reason to laugh at Cubs

Lots of things can go wrong with construction projects, I know, so delays really shouldn’t be a surprise. Still, the Chicago Cubs‘ renovations of Wrigley Field are turning into a p.r. nightmare: Now, not only won’t the rebuilt bleachers (which were mostly rebuilt to support some humongous video boards) open until mid-year, but the entire project could take a year more than previously expected:

Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for [Cubs owner Tom] Ricketts, confirmed Wednesday evening that the project could very well bleed into a fifth offseason, one more than the original plan.

“That could still be the way it works out,” Culloton said of the original four-phase plan. “But it could take longer. Just take this winter for example, and we have found not only the problem with the weather but the water pipes that we had no control over. It could be four years, it could be five. It’s hard to say.”

On the bright side, the other renovations involve more off-the-field stuff — new bullpens, clubhouses, and luxury suites, and a new hotel next to the ballpark — so there’s at least hope that the games themselves won’t take place in a construction site in future seasons. And it looks like Wrigley will be playable for opening day this year, if you have a generous definition of playable. Still, for a team that’s openly trying to emulate the Boston Red Sox, this isn’t going like the phased renovation of Fenway Park did at all.

Goodell on new St. Louis stadium for Rams: Sounds good, now hurry up about it already

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken on the subject of a new Rams stadium in St. Louis! He has said nice things:

“They have a great site. They have a site that I think is important for St. Louis to redevelop. I think it’s a perfect stadium site, as the governor told me. And I think they’re working towards making it a reality.

“And that’s a positive. The efforts that are going on there are very positive.”

And he has said vaguely threatening things:

Goodell said Wednesday that the league has had discussions on the committee level about moving up the timetable for relocation following the 2015 season.

“We’ve had some discussions within our (Los Angeles opportunity) committee,” Goodell said. “Whether that time frame — if there was a relocation — whether that’s the appropriate time frame to do so. There’s a lot to do when you relocate a franchise.”

All of this, of course, is part of the job description of a commissioner, who is expected to play both good cop and bad cop for team owners’ stadium demands. The only real news here, such as it is, seems to be that the NFL might consider moving up the decision time for announcing that a team or teams will or won’t move to L.A. for 2016. Also, that the league is apparently calling the group of owners in charge of this the “Los Angeles opportunity committee,” which you have to hope at least makes them feel better about their job.

Pro-Chargers stadium newspaper lashes out at Chargers for not being pro-stadium enough

Well, this is interesting. U-T San Diego, the newspaper run by a crazed millionaire who thinks journalists should be “cheerleaders” for stadiums, published an editorial yesterday afternoon that tears into the Chargers ownership for its position on a stadium. It tears into them for not being eager enough to commit to one in San Diego, mind you, but still, that’s definitely breaking with the program:

Mark Fabiani, the team’s special counsel for stadium issues … has continued to undermine the task force effort by pushing for a downtown stadium that would be more costly, would require two-thirds voter approval of a tax increase, would take much longer to develop and which includes a bus company yard that would definitely require significant environmental cleanup. And meanwhile, of course, the team has continued to push forward with a fly-by-night joint proposal with the Oakland Raiders to win approval for a new stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson.

Clearly, something has shifted here, whether it’s Fabiani pissing off the U-T editorial board somehow, or the board being tighter with San Diego city officials than with Chargers execs, or just annoyance that they’ve carried water for a San Diego stadium for this long and now Chargers owner Dean Spanos seems more interested in playing footsie with Carson. But this stuff matters, and it’s certainly significant that for whatever reason, the Chargers ownership seems to have alienated one of its most powerful friends. It’s a reminder that in playing cities off against each other, sports team owners risk burning bridges — though I guarantee that if the Chargers do choose to remain in San Diego, all will be forgiven, and the U-T editorial page will be full of talk about how Spanos needs to be rewarded for his loyalty.

MLS grants expansion franchise to Minneapolis, if stadium demands are met

Minnesota United FC was officially announced as the next MLS expansion franchise yesterday, to start play in 2018 — assuming a plan for a soccer-only stadium is in place by then.

And if not? MLS commissioner Don Garber made sure not to address that yesterday, saying only that “we believe our league is going to be built, and ultimately be more successful, if we can play in stadiums that are our own.” But it’s certainly a possibility that, if a stadium doesn’t happen promptly, the franchise could be held up, a la David Beckham’s Miami morass.

United owner Bill McGuire is still hedging about what he’ll ask for in terms of public subsidies for a stadium, telling Minnesota Public Radio that “we haven’t asked anybody or laid anything out yet and it’s premature to talk about any of that stuff.” Gov. Mark Dayton, for his part, said, “They need to fully realize that it is something they are going to have to pay for out of their own private resources,” but also said he might be willing to help build roads and infrastructure to support a stadium. It certainly smells like a “team pays for construction, state pays for everything else” scenario, which especially if you get into things like tax breaks can start to add up to some real money, but with a formal stadium proposal not expected until July 1, it could be a while yet before we know exactly what he United owners are asking for, and what MLS is willing to do to ensure that they get it.