Manager of local Subway thinks UNLV stadium will help sandwich business, is wrong

UNLV still isn’t even thinking about asking for state money for a new football stadium until 2017 (though it is hoping the buy the land by the end of this year), but that’s not going to stop intrepid Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters from asking local businesses what they think of this stadium that may or may not ever be built on their doorstep:

“It would bring more business all day long,” said Breina Colbert, a 2013 UNLV graduate who is the manager at the Einsteins bagel shop, one of 16 Einsteins stores in Las Vegas.

The district manager for the Subway submarine sandwich shop in the McCarran Village shopping center agreed a stadium next door would be great for business.

“More foot traffic is always good,” said Subway district manager Derek Bushberger, who is also a UNLV graduate. “It would bring people to the area. I’m all for it.”

Let’s do the math here: UNLV football plays six home games a year. There are 365 days in a year. The only way this football is going to bring business “all day long” is if the stadium catches on fire and the university sells tickets to see the ruins.

Okay, that’s not quite fair: There’s supposed to be additional commercial development on the site, too, so maybe that will bring in more 24/7 foot traffic. Let’s see, what do they have planned?

— Four to five quick-service restaurants of 2,500-3,000 square feet each. Possible brands could be Blaze Pizza or Pita Pit.

— Four to five sit-down restaurants of 6,000-8,000 square feet each. Possible brands include Buffalo Wild Wings.

— A UNLV themed restaurant/bar of 6,000-8,000 square feet.

— Entertainment building of 30,000 square feet for a brand such as Dave & Buster’s.

— Ancillary retail of 10,000-12,000 square feet.

So, sure, people might get hungry and want to stop for bagels on the way to … the Buffalo Wild Wings? I guess when your job is running a bagel chain outlet in Las Vegas, you have to find any way possible to give hope to your existence, though “Maybe I can apply for a job managing the Pita Pit!” probably would have been more honest.

Supreme Court leaves San Jose antitrust suit off calendar, A’s really not moving anywhere anytime soon

Judging from some of the reader comments back when I reported on San Jose’s antitrust lawsuit over not allowing the Oakland A’s to move there getting rejected by an appeals court last January, some people were still holding out hope that the Supreme Court would tell MLB where to stick its territorial rights rules. Y’all can stop hoping now:

The Supreme Court of the United States returned from its summer recess to grant appeals on the approximately 2,000 petitions submitted to it over the break, but took no action today on City of San Jose vs. Major League Baseball, a strong indicator that it will allow the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to stand.

The Supreme Court could still try to sneak the San Jose case in with a late acceptance, or ask the Solicitor General for an opinion on whether to hear the case, but neither of those is very likely. MLB’s antitrust exemption may be one of the Supreme Court’s stupidest rulings ever, but like the ruling that corporations are people, at this point it’s so well established that it’s going to take something far more cataclysmic than the fate of the A’s to get the courts to even think about overturning it.
Meanwhile, A’s owner Lew Wolff publicly gave up on San Jose months ago, so this isn’t likely to change his leverage much in seeking a new stadium in Oakland. Not that we’ve heard much about that lately, but presumably he’s just hoping that Mark Davis takes the Raiders to Southern California and gets out of his way in the battle for Oakland Coliseum land. Hey, maybe he’ll bring the team with him the next time he goes to get his hair cut.

More 49ers fans dumping seat licenses, because 49ers’ new stadium sucks

The San Francisco 49ers‘ new stadium in Santa Clara has had some problems since it opened last year — the grass won’t stay put, it was brutally hot, getting in and out by car was often painful, and the stadium lights blinded nearby airline pilots. And now, according to KGO-TV, some seat license holders are fed up and want out of their season-ticket deals:

If you were hoping to get your hands on a San Francisco 49ers Season Builders License, or SBL, you’re in luck. Thousands are now available, but re-sellers say it has nothing to do with the team’s current record. Still, a growing number of fans are very dissatisfied…

“Half the stadium, we get beat up by the sun. So if you’re going to watch a game, you want to enjoy, drink a few beers. Here, you drink a few beers, and you get beat up, come home with sunburn, it’s just a bad experience,” [San Jose resident Tuan] Le said.

Other fans complained that the 49ers changed their ticket policy this year, sending only electronic tickets that can’t be printed until 72 hours before the game, making it harder to sell unwanted tickets.

Now, it’s only 3,000 licenses that are up for resale, up only slightly from last spring, and not all that much in a 68,000-seat stadium. And besides, the magic of PSLs (or SBLs as the 49ers call them) is that the team doesn’t have to give a crap about any of this: They’ve sold the licenses already, and it’s the fans’ problem if they made a bad investment.

The more interesting question is what this means for plans to finance stadiums in Los Angeles by similar means: Will L.A. fans, seeing the mess in Santa Clara, be more hesitant to plunk down for Rams/Raiders/Chargers PSLs? Nobody knows, but then nobody knows how viable those PSL sales projections were in the first place. This is a cautionary tale for somebody, that’s for sure, but whether it’s for football fans, for city officials in Inglewood and Carson, or for cities that think they have to outbid L.A. for the right to keep their teams is yet to be determined.

D.C. to use eminent domain to seize land for United soccer stadium

The revised stadium agreement that D.C. United got D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign back in June (after threatening to back out of the deal and move to Virginia instead) required the city to either buy the stadium land or move to seize it by eminent domain by the end of September — and hey, look what day it is today! So what’d they end up doing?

As the courts closed at 5 p.m. the city had not filed [an eminent domain] suit, and Joaquin McPeek, a spokesman for Bowser’s deputy mayor for economic development, declined to comment.

Almost two hours later, McPeek said that the District had made an after-hours filing, electronically, but offered no explanation for the apparent last-minute scramble in the mayor’s office.

Anyway, the point is, D.C. is going to force the site’s property owners to sell, and then use the courts to set a price. Because a private soccer stadium is clearly a public good. I mean, if the Supreme Court says a vacant lot can be, why not?

Buccaneers now seeking $100m stadium upgrade, “only” asking public for $26m

Remember when Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners the Glazer family said they wanted a bigger new scoreboard than the measly $18.7 million one the county was going to build for them, but they’d pay the difference? Well, almost two years later, the Bucs’ stadium upgrade plans are now in, and they’re a whole lot more ambitious, not to mention involve more complicated financing:

  • In addition to expanding the scoreboard from 2,250 square feet to 9,600 square feet and making them high-definition, the Glazers are seeking upgrades to luxury suites and to the sound system.
  • The public stadium authority would fund $26 million of the cost — as currently required under the team-friendly lease — while the team owners would kick in between $52 million and $75 million.
  • The Glazers are seeking permission to have the Bucs play a second home game outside of Tampa each year, possibly in line with the NFL now doing two games a year in London. In exchange, the county would get out of a commitment to put $11.6 million into a practice facility (also courtesy of that crappy lease) and get to keep more money from non-football events at the stadium. (Which the public owns, mind you, but the Glazers get cash from non-football events because — do I really need to say “crappy lease” a third time?)
  • In addition, Noah Pransky of WTSP-TV emails that the Glazers want the county to purchase construction materials for them so they can get out of paying sales taxes on them.

The immediate response from local public officials was not exactly positive:

“We thought we had a deal on the table last week. And then they kind of put out this whole new deal, which is quite different than what we were talking about,” said Mike Merrill, Hillsborough County administrator, whose staff is part of the negotiations because TSA is partly county-funded.

There are too many moving parts yet to say exactly how good or bad a deal this would be for Tampa. Mostly, it’s a reminder that leases that require the public to keep putting money into capital improvements even after giving a team a new stadium are a terrible, terrible idea. Also that people like watching football on giant video screens, because football is a terrible sport to watch live. I still say the future of the NFL is to build a stadium with only one really luxurious seat, and then charge a lucky billionaire tons of money to sit in it — though he’ll probably spend most of the game eating in the in-stadium steak house anyway.

Texas Rangers may want new stadium because old one is 21 years old and doesn’t have a roof and, yeah

If you had the Texas Rangers in the “Who will be the next team that got a new stadium in the ’90s to be rumored to be looking for a new one barely 20 years later after the Atlanta Braves?” pool, congratulations, for you are a winnah!

The Rangers, who began the season in miserable shape, have turned in a remarkable second half of the season, running their way up the standings and currently sitting 1.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros in first place of the American League West. And yet despite the storybook season, the Rangers are pulling terrible attendance numbers…

The attendance problems are likely to contribute to speculation that, perhaps, the time is ripe to push for a Rangers relocation to downtown Dallas. According to the Star-Telegram, Dallas city officials have denied that they are trying to woo the Rangers. However, the team has said they’d really love a stadium with a retractable roof. That sounds a bit like an invitation to suitors.

If that sounds overly speculative even for sportswriters on a slow day, you’ll get little argument from the evidence: Let’s see, there’s an article from early 2014 that notes the Rangers “remain one of the few teams located in a searing summer climate without a roof,” then one from a little later in 2014 that says “rumors have swirled that the club might be looking to move to Dallas and build a stadium with a retractable roof,” and oh look, here’s one from D Magazine (same source as yesterday’s story) way back in 2011 that said the Rangers’ stadium in Arlington is ugly and one in Dallas would be maybe less so (and roofed) and … anything with anybody from the Rangers actually saying for attribution that they want a new stadium? Anyone? No?

What’s going on here is twofold: First off, the Rangers’ lease expires in 2024, so everyone is speculating on what will happen then, even though the team’s owners would be insane to leave the nation’s fifth-largest TV market for, well, anywhere. Second, and more important, is that even more than Atlanta, where Cobb County decided to throw $300 million at the Braves to steal them away from the big bad inner city, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area is made up of a bunch of different localities that can fight over a team. And that means lots of people spreading rumors, whether it’s local officials or writers for single-lettered magazines or whatever. And some of these rumors may even turn out to be true — again, with lots of different elected bodies on the prowl, if your lease is up it’s a great way to get a bidding war going, and that floats your boat.

Yesterday’s D Magazine story goes on to give a whole bunch of reasons why a new stadium in Dallas would be awesomer than an old new stadium in Arlington (“The young people heading back to Uptown and thinking about which patio to hit for happy hour would see the stadium looming just a hop away”!), without ever considering that the big difference is you don’t have to build a stadium in Arlington, because it’s already there. For a billion dollars or whatever a stadium is going to go for in 2024, you could pay people to stand on streetcorners (or whatever they have in Dallas — traffic medians?) and hand out maps to downtown Dallas and coupons for free drinks, or whatever the kids of tomorrow will be into.

Most important to note: Whatever you think of the stadium in Arlington, the reason why it’s being considered for replacement rather than the Colorado Rockies‘ stadium or the Baltimore Orioles‘ or the Cleveland Indians‘ has nothing to do with whether it’s a good place to see a ballgame, or even the local weather. It’s about how easy it might be to get somebody else nearby to consider building a new one. Same as it ever was.

NFL owners still can’t agree whether Rams, Chargers, or Raiders should move to L.A.

Whenever I’ve asked about the prospects for an NFL team moving to Los Angeles, I’ve tried to stress that we have no idea what’s going to happen, in part because this is something that will be decided by a vote of NFL owners, meaning it could be determined by personalities of 32 rich guys as much as anything. And guess what? It turns out that the 32 rich guys can’t agree on anything right now, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:

Neither the Inglewood project, spearheaded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, nor the Carson project, led by Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis, has sufficient support to carry a vote…

Several ownership groups maintain that if the relocation came to a vote right now, there would be a sufficient split to hold up any move forward. The NFL will not bring the matter to a formal vote among the owners until enough straw polling has been conducted to ensure one of these projects has at least 24 votes in the affirmative.

Spanos is the more popular of the two owners among the general constituents, but Kroenke’s project is viewed by some as potentially the more lucrative for all the entire league — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Bob Kraft chief among them. Some estimate Kroenke would have as many as 10 votes in his favor right now.

Now this is some quality tea-leaf reading here: The NFL is split between people who don’t like Stan Kroenke and people who don’t like the Carson stadium project. It would be nice to know why other owners think the Inglewood plan would be more lucrative for the league as a whole than the Carson one — why people might not like a guy who is known a “Silent Stanley” and who bum-rushed the line to move to L.A. is less mysterious — but La Canfora doesn’t say.

Anyway, all this is good reason to bet the over in any pools about when this whole L.A. situation is likely to be resolved, because looks like we the hoi polloi are not the only ones confused about which deal makes sense. At this point I’ll going to be increasingly surprised if any teams are approved to relocate for the 2016 season, if only because it seems like the league could use a little more time to see which cities are shakedownable for stadium funding. (Current scorecard: St. Louis maybe, San Diego possibly but don’t hold your breath, Oakland only if you squint really hard.) Something has to tip the balance for league owners, especially when a three-quarters majority is needed, and that something is still in the future.

Calgary mayor: Flames arena-stadium plan “not even in the oven yet”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is back from vacation, and talking about the Flames‘ $890 million arena-stadium-mashup proposal. Here’s his answer to a video question from a concerned Flames fan, transcribed and translated from the original Canadian:

Just so people understand this, the amount of public investment that would be required to make that work would actually make that the largest public works project in Calgary’s history — or maybe second largest after the West LRT. So these are really, really, really big dollars. So it’s really important for us to have a conversation with Calgarians about whether hat’s a good use of public money. I have often said that public money needs to be for public benefit, not for private profit, and the question for all Calgarians now is whether there’s enough public benefit in his to justify that kind of public money.

There’s going to be weeks and months to continue to discuss questions like “Is that the right size? Can the transportation networks support it? Is the environmental contamination just too difficult to fix?”…

Long story short, some people have said that the CalgaryNEXT proposal is half-baked. I would argue it’s not even in the oven yet.

Good questions being asked, reasonable perspective — yup, sounds like one of the Gang of Four, all right.


Vikings stadium czar: Team was never moving to L.A., thanks for the $500m, though!

With stadium talks with the San Diego Chargers still going nowhere fast, this has left the San Diego sportswriters who’ve been pushing for a deal in a bit of a quandary for what to write about. On Friday, Mark Ziegler wrote about how Tijuana’s soccer team got a new stadium when San Diego isn’t (the trick: a total cost of a mere $125 million, plus an owner who was hoping to cash in by getting his team promoted to the top Mexican league, two things that aren’t options for the Chargers); today, it’s our old pal Kevin Acee pointing out that it took the Minnesota Vikings a good decade and a half to get a new stadium, so San Diego should be patient and — wait, hold on a second here:

Even as the Vikings were frequently mentioned from the outside as a possible relocation candidate in the years leading up to the 2012 approval of a new stadium here, [Vikings stadium point man Lester] Bagley said the team never used Los Angeles as a bargaining chip. He said he believes ownership would have sold the team before it moved the Vikings.

“Never used Los Angeles as a bargaining chip”? So when NFL VP Eric Grubman declared that the time was “getting ripe” for the Vikings to move and that “I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded,” and then NFL commissioner Roger Goodell flew to Minnesota to scare the state legislature into coughing up half a billion dollars in public money, something it immediately did despite an electronic gambling scheme that ended up generating no revenue and having to be bailed out by other state cash, that was just, you know, a coincidence? Or he’s making a distinction that the owners never threatened to move to L.A. themselves, they just had league officials threaten that the team would be sold and moved to L.A., which isn’t a bargaining chip at all, right?

Oy. For a palate-cleanser, go read this NBC San Diego report on how the Chargers may be in violation of their lease for not meeting with the city often enough to discuss stadium plans. It doesn’t really make any more sense — San Diego would have nothing to gain by breaking its lease with the Chargers, unless you really think the Spanos family could be frightened into spending more money on a new stadium by the threat of being forced to play in the street — but at least it’s based on actual reality.

Seattle could renovate Key Arena for $285m, says study that doesn’t explain why it would want to

Chris Daniels of KING-5 TV in Seattle has gotten hold of a report on possible renovations to Key Arena that was commissioned by the city council, and it says: Yes, Key Arena can be renovated. How much money you got?

AECOM studied multiple scenarios for the building, of varying costs, and concluded there are multiple potential options for repurposing the building, including as an adventure sports park, amusement park, aquarium, museum, or waterpark. It even suggests the building could be redeveloped into 400-500 units of housing. Those options, according the report, would cost north of $100 million. The city could also demolish the arena at a cost close to $7 million.

The AECOM report suggests the city could complete a gut remodel of the building to make it NBA and NHL compatible at a cost of $285 million.

Okay, then. It’s not entirely clear what “NBA and NHL compatible” means — Key is currently too short to comfortably fit a hockey rink, but the only thing wrong with it as an NBA arena is that the NBA wants more revenues that it can generate, and the sky’s the limit there in terms of demands. (The report is online, but it’s 169 pages and the Scribd search function doesn’t appear to be working properly — if anyone wants to read the whole damn thing to see what $285 million would buy, be my guest.) And while Seattle city councilmember Jean Godden noted on Friday that “$285 million [would be] a small amount compared to the cost of a new arena” (true!), it would also be a whole lot more than the cost of letting Chris Hansen build a new arena with mostly his own money, not to mention more than just not building a new arena at all.

I suppose one way to look at it would be that this would be an investment in keeping the Key Arena active and maintaining the surrounding neighborhood — except that, according to another study from earlier this year noted by Daniels, the surrounding neighborhood doesn’t seem to have been bothered much by the NBA’s departure:

The study [by economists Brad Humphreys and Adam Nowak] says condo prices have experienced “excess price appreciation” since the Sonics left, based on research involving 10,000 residential property transactions within one mile of Key Arena between 2000-2013. They write, “These results suggest that the presence of a team in a high profile sports league is not the most important factor driving observed property value increases documented in the existing literature.”

This isn’t a brand-new study — I mentioned it in my Vice Sports piece about the Bucks back in July — but still the point remains: Seattle could spend $285 million upgrading Key Arena to make NBA and NHL teams want to move there, maybe, depending on what the upgrades included and what kind of lease they were offered. Or it could not, and still have $285 million and still be Seattle. It’s nice to have all the options on the table, but unless the only question being asked here is “How can we get a basketball or hockey team to move to Seattle?”, this isn’t all that enticing an option.