Friday roundup: Indiana and Missouri rack up another $390m in team subsidies, and other dog-bites-man news

Sadly, there’s another loss to report this week: Rob McQuown, who for the past decade has been one of the core tech and admin guys at Baseball Prospectus, passed away on Tuesday. I never met Rob personally, but in my days writing and editing for BP we exchanged emails a ton, and he was always a sharp and good-humored presence keeping the site running behind the scenes. (He wrote some excellent fantasy baseball coverage for a while, too.) I haven’t heard the details of his death, but I do know it was way too soon, and my sympathies go out to all his friends and family and colleagues who are mourning him this week. Here’s a lovely podcast tribute by Ben Lindbergh to Rob’s multifarious and too-often underappreciated gifts.

And now, to the news:

  • The Indianapolis City-County Council gave final signoff to $290 million in subsidies for the Indiana Pacers, which along with new and past operating subsidies brings team owner Herb Simon’s total haul to more than a billion dollars. The team’s new lease lasts until 2044, but I’d wager that Simon won’t wait that long before going back to what’s been an insanely lucrative taxpayer well.
  • The state of Missouri has reportedly approved $3 million a year for 20 years, coming to a total of $70 million, for upgrades for the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Royals, and Kansas City Chiefs stadiums — yeah, I don’t get how that math works either, especially when this was previously reported as $70 million for the Blues plus $30 million for the K.C. teams, and has elsewhere been reported as $70 million for the Blues and $60 million for the K.C. teams, but I’m sure it was copied from a press release somewhere, and that’s what passes for fact-checking these days, right? This brings the teams’ total haul to … let’s see, the K.C. teams got $250 million previously, and the Blues owners got $67 million in city money, so let’s go with “around $400 million,” about which you can say that it’s at least cheaper than what Indiana taxpayers are on the hook for, and that is pretty much all you can say.
  • The city of Anaheim is still waiting on its now-overdue appraisal of the Los Angeles Angels‘ stadium land so it can open talks with team owner Arte Moreno on how much he should pay for development rights on the stadium parking lots. Mayor Harry Sidhu has appointed a negotiating team, though, which includes Sidhu himself, something that has drawn criticism since Angels execs donated to his election campaign. Sidhu also stated that “our theme parks, sports venues and convention center are a matter of pride, but their real purpose is to serve residents by generating revenue for public safety, parks, libraries and community centers and by helping us keep taxes and fees low,” which is not likely to help convince anyone that he understands sports economics like his predecessor did and isn’t just repeating what his funders tell him.
  • Oak View Group’s Tim Leiweke is trying to build a 10,000-seat arena in Palm Springs, and economists point out that this won’t help the local economy much because “you’re crazy if you think I’m flying to Palm Springs to see your minor league hockey team,” and Leiweke says Palm Springs is just different, okay, because so many attendees will be people who are already coming to town to play golf, gamble, or stay at local resorts. How this makes it a major economic plus when those people also see a concert when they’re in town Leiweke didn’t say, but who’re you going to believe, a bunch of people who study economics for a living or a guy who was once the youngest GM in indoor soccer?
  • A Cincinnati nonprofit is trying to raise $2 million to preserve affordable housing around F.C. Cincinnati‘s new stadium, and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says that maybe building more market-rate housing will allow low-income residents of existing buildings to stay put. Yeah, that’s really not going to work.
  • Nobody in Miami-Dade County has studied the impact of building a new Inter Miami stadium right next to the city’s airport, and some county commissioners think that maybe that might be a thing they’d want to study.
  • Here’s a good, long R.J. Anderson article on three cities vying for MLB expansion teams (Portland, Montreal, and Raleigh) that should provide reading material for the inevitable endless wait for MLB to actually expand. (I’m also quoted in it, right before Jim Bouton.)
  • And here’s another long article that quotes me, this one by Bill Shea of The Athletic on how stadium subsidies have changed since the Great Recession (some sports economists say it’s tougher to get public money now, I say “Bah!”).

F.C. Cincinnati releases new stadium renderings that remain unclear on exactly how soccer works

It’s been a bit of a slow news week so far, but fortunately F.C. Cincinnati is here to bail us out with some fresh vaportecture renderings of its new stadium that it’s building with somewhere between $81 million and $213 million in public money. You’ll recall that back in April, it was supposed to look like this:

But now, it’s going to look like this:

As you can see, there have been a lot of advances! The lighting system has been redirected to light the field rather than the roof, the ad boards have been removed from one sideline to make possible exciting plays where players actually tumble into the front row, the video board has been relocated from the corner to the upper end seats where it will block more fans’ views, someone has brought an enormous banner that is being spread out across the upper and lower decks despite it being the middle of game play, and somewhat fewer fans are excitedly raising their fists for good reason (possibly because the action has moved to the other end of the pitch, possibly because no one can see around all the checkerboard flags that were handed out, possibly because they’re all annoyed by vuvuzelas now being allowed in the stadium). Also the confetti mysteriously falling from above appears to have been gotten smaller, possibly because the previous size was considered a concussion hazard.

What else we got? Anything with some lens flare?

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I especially like the passerby in the last image excitedly pointing to the sky above the stadium, no doubt saying, “There are no fireworks or spotlights or mysterious colored clouds coming out of the top! Is it broken?”

F.C. Cincinnati president Jeff Berding also told Cincinnati Business Courier why the team chose to build a 26,000-seat stadium when right now they average 28,000 fans a game, and it was it was too expensive to build more seats (every additional thousand seats costing an additional $10 million) but also that by building more seats they can keep ticket prices lower, and 26,000 was the sweet spot where those two equations met, presumably, though he didn’t actually say. Just rest assured that your MLS team has two goals in mind: keeping ticket prices low and maximizing profits, and there’s no way those two things will ever come into conflict. Now wave your flag faster, you’re getting confetti on your head.

Friday roundup: Remembering Jim Bouton, and the latest in stadium shakedown absurdities

One day maybe 16 or 17 years ago, I was sitting at my computer when my phone rang and a voice at the other end said, “Hi, this is Jim Bouton. Can I speak with Neil deMause?”

Once I’d picked my jaw up off the floor that the author of Ball Four (and winner of two games in the 1964 World Series) was calling me, we got down to business: Bouton was in the midst of writing a book about his attempts to save a nearly century-old minor-league baseball stadium in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and had some questions about how attempts to save old ballparks (and save the public’s money on building new ones) had gone in other cities. We soon fell to chatting amiably about the nuances and absurdities of the stadium game — I’m pretty sure Jim had only one setting with people he’d just met, which was “chatting amiably” — and eventually ended up having a few conversations about his book and his work as a short-term preservationist and ballclub operator. (The preservation part was successful — Wahconah Park is still in use today — but he was eventually forced out from team management.) I got to meet him in person for the first time a couple of years later when he came to Brooklyn to talk with local residents then fighting demolition of their buildings to make way for a new Brooklyn Nets arena, an issue he quickly became as passionate about as everything else that touched his sense of injustice; when I learned (at a Jim Bouton book talk, in fact) that the initial edition of Field of Schemes had gone out of print, he enthusiastically encouraged me and Joanna Cagan to find a publisher for a revised edition, as he had never been shy about doing for his own books, even when that meant publishing them himself.

The last time I talked to Jim was in the spring of 2012, when he showed up at a screening of the documentary Knuckleball! (along with fellow knuckleball pitchers R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield, and Charlie Hough) to help teach kids how to throw the near-magical pitch. We only got to talk briefly, as he was kept busy chatting amiably with everyone else who wanted a moment with him. Soon after that, he had a stroke, and eventually developed vascular dementia, which on Wednesday took his life at age 80.

I’m eternally grateful to have had a chance to spend a little time with one of the nicest, smartest, funniest world-famous authors and ballplayers you could ever hope to meet, especially when we crossed paths on a topic that was so important to both of us. The image I’ll always retain of Jim, though, was of getting ice cream with him near his home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and him looking at my cup and exclaiming, “Sprinkles! That’s a great idea!” and then sprinting back into the shop to get some added to his as well. To the end, Jim Bouton remained boyishly intense about things that were truly important, whether fighting General Electric to save an old ballpark or eating ice cream, and that’s a rare and precious gift. My sympathies to his wife, Paula, and to all who loved him, which by this point I think was pretty much everybody.

And now, to the nuances and absurdities of this week’s stadium and arena news:

Tacoma plans $59.5m soccer stadium for NWSL and USL teams, with public’s share TBD

Yesterday a journalist asked me about the boom in new soccer stadiums, and replied that it was a function of a bunch of things, including MLS’s propensity to hand out new franchises like candy in exchange for new soccer-only facilities, as well as the fact that soccer stadiums tend to be relatively cheap as sports venues go. I wish that he’d waited a day to call me now, because:

The Tacoma City Council reviewed a feasibility study of a new $300 million soccer complex in Tacoma on Tuesday.

The project, called the Heidelberg Sports Complex, would be publicly and privately financed, a joint venture between the City of Tacoma, the Metro Parks department, and the Soccer Club of Tacoma (which includes the Reign FC and Tacoma Defiance).

Now, that $300 million is for a soccer stadium plus “eight recreational fields, shops, and 520 units of housing”; the actual stadium cost is listed at a somewhat more manageable $59.5 million, though it’s not immediately clear if that includes all the land and infrastructure that will be required for the stadium or not. In any event, this would all be for the Reign of the NWSL (that’s the women’s pro league) and the Defiance of the USL (that’s the top men’s minor league below MLS). The public’s share of the cost — and, one hopes, of any resulting revenues — won’t be revealed until the soccer team owners and public officials complete negotiations on the plan, which is expected to take place over the next month or two.

Tacoma officials did release a feasibility study on Tuesday, which I’m still going through, but aside from some requisite stadium renderings — featuring daytime fireworks, of course — and another rendering of, for some reason, Mount Rainier, there doesn’t appear to be a ton of useful detail in them. But I’m sure they were presented in a professional clear plastic binder, and that’s all that really matters.

Hamilton County trolls public by releasing 275 pages on Bengals lease talks with every word blacked out

The Cincinnati Bengals negotiated a new stadium lease with Hamilton County late last year, and given that the previous stadium lease famously included a guarantee that the public would buy the team a “holographic replay system” (as soon as such a thing is invented), there’s understandably been interest in exactly what was agreed to and how the final result was arrived at. So the Cincinnati Enquirer filed a public-records request with the county to find out, among other things, the county’s projected cost to buy land for a new Bengals practice facility and details of a new music venue that Bengals owner Mike Brown agreed to allow to be built next to the stadium in exchange for the new practice facility.

What resulted was perhaps the greatest troll in the history of government bureaucrat dick moves:

That’s right: Hamilton County responded with 275 pages that had been completely blacked out. As the Enquirer tells it:

Every word, other than the date, subject line and names of email recipients, was gone. No noun or verb remained. No punctuation mark survived.

Several pages appeared to contain bullet-point presentations or slide shows, but they, too, were entirely redacted…

Did anyone raise a question about the new lease agreement? It’s impossible to know. Did anyone suggest better ways to invest taxpayer dollars? Can’t say.

The county’s excuse for this mass redaction is that every word and punctuation mark on the 275 pages is subject to attorney-client privilege, but as Deadspin notes, “elected officials aren’t allowed to shield their discussions from public view just by copying their attorneys on every single communication, which is what appears to have happened here.”

To be clear, the new lease itself has been made public, but with all those side agreements in place, it would be instructive to know what the county and team discussed, and how the final deal was arrived at. And that’s kind of the whole point of public records laws: to guarantee the media and the public a look at what their elected officials are up to, so they can hold them accountable. And, I suppose, it did show us one thing that Hamilton County officials are up to: clicking on the redaction tool over and over and over again. I sincerely hope that the Enquirer’s next public records request is for how much staff time was spent on ensuring that no incriminating commas were revealed to the public — if only to see if the county cc’ed its attorneys on that line item, too.

NY Gov. Cuomo: Yeah I’m giving the Islanders owners $75m for a train station, but they’ll repay some of it eventually, so shut yer yaps

Well, that was confusing. After conflicting reports last week that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was set to announce the construction of a commuter rail station for a new New York Islanders arena which was going to either cost $300 million and mostly be paid for by the public, or cost $100 million and mostly be paid for by the arena developers, the answer turned out to be … neither! Instead, Cuomo canceled his own event, and substituted an emailed press release.

The press release, at least, spelled out the finances at last:

Constructing the new full-time station on the LIRR’s Main Line and upgrading the existing spur is estimated to cost $105 million. The arena developers will cover $97 million – 92 percent of the total cost – and the State will invest $8 million.

Nice and clear! Except that the governor’s statement came with an accompanying economic impact statement by the state-run Empire State Development corporation, and that contained a different set of numbers:

The total investment in the LIRR Improvements is anticipated to be $104 million, of which $30 million is to be funded by [New York Arena Partners, the Islanders owners’ development group] and $74 million is to be funded by the State of New York.

At this point, what the actual hell, man?

State officials were tied up all afternoon with a board meeting to approve the arena plan’s final environmental impact statement — an event that drew nearly three hours of public testimony, despite only having been announced late on Friday afternoon — but thankfully, someone at Newsday finally tracked down the explanation:

To build the LIRR station, state officials said the developers will initially contribute $30 million and the state will cover the remaining $75 million. The developers will then pay back the state $67 million of that figure over time, officials said. Details of that arrangement are not yet available.

Let’s ignore for the moment the missing comma that makes it appear that state officials are building a train station with their words. In terms of who’s paying for what, the upshot appears to be that the deal for the train station — which will benefit pretty much only the privately run arena, as there’s already another existing train station just a quarter-mile away — will include an $8 million grant and a $67 million loan. And that’s a “no-interest, multidecade” loan, according to the New York Post, meaning the present value of the repayment will only be worth … well, it depends on what “multidecade” means, but if it’s a 30-year loan with evenly spaced payments, for example, the Islanders owner stand to save about $33 million from the state loan deal.

(And that’s assuming, of course, that the repayment is in actual cash, not in, say, future tax revenues that anyone would normally pay, a dodge that’s been tried in other cities before.)

That $41 million gift would then need to be added to: the land discount Cuomo has given the Islanders owners (tough to calculate because comparable giant plots of land are so hard to come by, but $74-300 million is the best guesstimate so far); any tax breaks the arena will be getting (as it’ll be on leased public land, it won’t pay property taxes, but rather payments in lieu of taxes, amounting to a $10,000 per event fee for the arena with a minimum of $1 million per year, plus payments equivalent to regular taxes for the accompanying hotel and retail project that don’t kick in for 20 and 15 years, respectively, which I have no idea how much all that adds up to); any cost overruns the state may be on the hook for (your guess is as good as mine, since nothing was specified about who’d pay these); plus the “cost of additional services that may be required to support new economic activity in the local area (e.g. police, fire, water, sewer infrastructure),” which the state study specifially noted it didn’t even try to calculate.

That is a big pile of dunno, but it’s certainly worth asking questions about. Whether those questions will be asked is another story — state senators Leroy Comrie and Anna Kaplan, the two main previous critics of the arena deal, were both quoted in Cuomo’s press release as applauding the new train station plan — but they’re the kind of thing that somebody with better data and more processing power than me should be crunching the numbers on. Also, speaking of data, did anyone try to figure whether it would be more cost-effective to just run shuttle buses from the existing Bellerose Long Island Railroad station, instead of building a whole new one a quarter-mile away that will still require shuttle buses to the arena? And who’s going to pay to run those shuttle buses, anyway?

I’m starting to see why Gov. Cuomo decided not to subject himself to a press conference. More news hopefully later today, once I hear back from all the sources who didn’t return my calls yesterday afternoon. In the meantime, let’s all just enjoy the fresh vaportecture the governor’s office dropped on us, complete with a woman walking her child dangerously close to the edge of the tracks and what looks like an ad for what would have to be Billy Joel’s 73rd birthday tour, or maybe a show by Belly Jolie, the Angelina Jolie-Tanya Donnelly supergroup:

UPDATE: I’ve now talked to some state officials for this Gothamist article, and can answer a few of the above questions, and confirm that others have no answer as of yet:

  • The 30-year no-interest loan is confirmed by ESD officials, though they deny that it should be considered a no-interest loan, saying it’s just the state fronting $67 million and then the developers paying the state $67 million over 30 years with no interest, which is obviously a different thing entirely. So my $41 million subsidy estimate above stands, though state officials would clearly complain that they don’t consider it a subsidy.
  • The land lease is now for $50 million, not $40 million, and would go partly to cover some of the state’s LIRR station costs ($30 million) and partly for other unspecified infrastructure ($20 million). ESD argues that this means the state would come out ahead, which only works if 1) $30 million is more than $41 million and 2) you’re okay with the fair-market value of the land being $0.
  • Speaking of which, that appraisal that ESD was supposed to do by now? They’re checking to see if it’s still happening.
  • Also unknown, according to ESD: whether anyone looked at running shuttle buses from the existing Bellerose station as an alternative to building a whole new one 1300 feet away.
  • The developer will pay for the shuttle buses, hooray!
  • Nobody knows yet who’ll pay for cost overruns, boo!
  • The state doesn’t know how much the PILOT tax breaks will be worth, but also doesn’t agree that they’re tax breaks!

I think that’s it. I’ll try to calculate the total subsidy value of this at some point, but right now all the known unknowns are making my head a splode. Hand it to Cuomo for this: He learned from Atlantic Yards that the best way to stop people from talking about your spendthrift ways is to make the money trail too confusing to sum up in a single number.

Friday roundup: Raleigh MLS project funding, Islanders’ train station costs, Flames arena talks are all ???

Happy Friday! If you’ve been wondering if Scott McCaughey’s excellent new album of songs written while in a hospital room recovering from a stroke can drown out the sound of poorly timed jackhammering by the gas company right outside your window, I’m here to report: Not nearly well enough!

Typing really loud so you can hear me over the din:

  • Raleigh residents are concerned that a development project centered on a new soccer stadium could price them out of living in the city. Also, there isn’t actually enough Wake County tax money available to pay for the project’s proposed $390 million public cost. And Raleigh doesn’t have an MLS team, or the promise of one. Other than that, this is going swimmingly.
  • Newsday has contradicted Long Island Business News’s report that New York state will pay “most” of the cost of a new $300 million train station for an Islanders arena at Belmont Park, saying that the actual cost is only $100 million and developers will pay most of it. Unnamed source fight!
  • Calgary city councillor Jeff Davison, who is spearheading behind-closed-doors talks with the Flames owners over a new arena, says, “We do not have a deal today, and when we will have one and if we will have one is totally up in the air. But what we can tell the public today is that discussions are productive but they’re not complete. We can’t give an exact date as to when we’ll be back with any information [but] I’m confident if we do bring a plan back, that the public will support it.” Pretty sure that translates as “Still talking, ask again later.”
  • Noah Pransky has been on a writing tear about the Tampa Bay Rays mess this week, including a review of an article he wrote in July 2009 predicting much of what has since come to pass and an analysis of how hotel-tax money that Tampa officials say can’t be spent for things like policing or libraries really can, because they could be used to free up general-fund money that’s currently spent on tourism-related expenses. “Where’s the study on best uses for that new money?” writes Pransky at Florida Politics. “How about just a best-use conversation, held out in the sunshine?” Crazy talk!
  • Speaking of tax money that could be spent on other things, Cuyahoga County is considering a 1% hotel tax hike to free up $4.6 million a year to spend on its convention center and sports venues, which in present value comes to about $70 million. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer article on this is entirely about how the bed tax hike would affect the hotel industry, because of course it is.)
  • “Could an NFL Stadium [for the Buffalo Bills] be Built on an Abandoned Coke Plant Property?” asks Erie News Now, boldly toying with Betteridge’s Law.
  • Worcester will break ground next Thursday on its new heavily subsidized Triple-A Red Sox stadium set to open at the beginning of the 2021 season, which, uh, isn’t a lot of time. They’d better hope that the climate crisis means a less stormy winter construction season in New England, which, uh, isn’t likely.

Report: Andrew Cuomo to announce $300m train station for Islanders, “most” paid for with public money

Normally I wouldn’t bother posting on the 4th of July because there are going to be like two of you reading this and you’re both in Canada, but but but:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to be on Long Island Monday to announce plans to build a new train station to serve the proposed new arena at Belmont Park, sources told LIBN…

It is unclear whether New York Arena Partners, the developers of the $1.18 billion arena, hotel and retail project, will contribute to the cost of the new station, however most of the cost, which could approach $300 million, will be paid for with public funds.

The possibility of a new train station, of course, is nothing new: Back in February, local elected officials made clear that they had no intention of approving an Islanders arena unless it came with a full-time train station, which — thanks in part to some problematic geometry with how the existing Long Island Railroad tracks are laid out — transit officials had estimated could cost as much as $300 million. Yesterday’s Long Island Business News report, though, is the first to indicate not only that Cuomo is set to go ahead with this cockamamie plan, but that “most” of the price tag will be footed by New York state taxpayers.

LIBN also included a map showing how far from the new arena the new train station would have to be:

That little trapezoid is the train station. The giant oval is Belmont Park racetrack. The area below the giant oval, mostly cut off at the bottom of the image, is where the arena would be built.

That’s a distance of about half a mile, which will require hockey fans to board shuttle buses that will inch their way around the west end of the racetrack on that single service road to drop fans at the arena. (What looks like an existing train station at the southwest corner of the racetrack, by the way, is indeed an existing train station, but one that can only be used for service to and from the west thanks to that troublesome geometry mentioned earlier.) So New York state could be looking at spending nearly $300 million just so people going to Islanders games and concerts can take shuttle buses a slightly shorter distance than if you ran it from the existing stations to the east and west.

We’ll find out more on Monday, presumably — I’ve reached out to the state agencies responsible, but July 4th, remember? — and it’s always possible that LIBN’s report (based entirely on “sources”) got something wrong. But right now it looks like Cuomo could be set to ease local opposition to a privately funded (except for $74 million to $300 million in land discounts) arena project by throwing as much as $300 million at a train station a bus ride away from the arena, which, you know what, let’s just wait till Monday before issuing any epithets.

Rays execs say Montreal-Florida plan came from “ether,” is wave of future, we’re all gonna be rich!

Owner-mouthpiece sportswriters like the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin can be useful not because they do any actual reporting — they try to avoid that wherever possible — but because when they turn over their columns to self-serving statements by team officials, all kinds of amusing stuff can come out. And that is most certainly the case for Topkin’s inside-Rays-execs’-minds look at the team’s announced plans to move to two new stadiums in Tampa Bay and Montreal by 2024, which is totally neither crazy nor a cynical attempt to appear crazy, and about which we now learn:

  • Rays owner Stuart Sternberg claims not to remember who came up with the split-city plan, saying it has “no authorship” and “was just sort of there in the ether.’’ (Topkin does not address whether this is indeed amnesia or just plausible deniability.)
  • Team officials say all the kids will soon be doing it, with team president Brian Auld asserting, “We like to be first.”
  • Sternberg acknowledged that the idea seems “cockamamie,” which despite Noah Pransky’s claims to authorship was actually first suggested by FoS reader Andrew Ross. (Also, did you know that “cockamamie” comes from the same root as “decal,” after being filtered through the mouths of mid-20th-century New York youth? Now you do!)
  • Playing in two cities will enable the Rays to spend more money on players because they’ll have more revenue, somehow! “If this comes to fruition, we’re going to have more resources, and more resources means a higher payroll, and a higher payroll is good for all players within baseball,’’ team president Matt Silverman told Topkin, not in the least trying to lobby a players’ union that might otherwise scream bloody murder at 25 of its members having to live in two different countries every baseball season.
  • Sternberg insists he likes this plan even better than the one for a single new stadium in Tampa, telling the Times editorial board that if given the choice between the two, he’d pick “slam dunk, what we’re doing today.’’
  • Team execs think that since Tampa Bay fans don’t go to many games anyway but mostly just read about them on their phones or whatever the kids today do, they can go to just as many if the team is only around half the time, because that’s absolutely how consumer spending works.
  • Sternberg insists “our TV ratings aren’t that great” in Tampa Bay, which is sort of true, but they’re not that bad either.
  • These are words that Sternberg actually said, presumably in an attempt to convey some meaning: “This isn’t us just leaning on Major League Baseball, like the bogeyman, ‘Mommy says I can’t sleep over’ kind of thing. They are large partners, they are large contributors to putting our team on the field every game, every year. They are going to weigh in, whether we like it or not.’’

Anyway. The Rays’ use agreement on Tropicana Field still says they can’t go anywhere before 2028 without the permission of the city of St. Petersburg, and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has made clear he has no intention of approving this cockamamie scheme before then, certainly not if it involves any public money from his city, which if it doesn’t then Sternberg could have just built his own stadium in Tampa already and been done with it. The wall-of-execs push for a Tampontreal solution, and commissioning Topkin to amplify it, is clearly meant to convince the sports world that they’re serious about this plan; whether they actually are or just want people to think they are remains an open question, but you know which one I’d put my money on.

Friday roundup: Another Islanders arena delay, Wisconsin to wrap up Brewers stadium spending but not really, Italy wins (?) 2026 Olympics

My endorsement of Hmm Daily last month was so successful that this week the site announced it’s shutting down. I am now officially afraid to tell you people to give money to any other particular site, lest I bestow the kiss of death on them as well, but you should give money to someone you like, because journalism is in bad shape, with dire effects on, among other things, the public’s ability to hold elected officials accountable.

Speaking of which, here’s this week’s news about elected officials doing unaccountable things, and the rich dudes who want to keep it that way:

UPDATE: Just realized I forgot to link to my Deadspin article yesterday on Stuart Sternberg’s Tampontreal Ex-Rays threat, Richard Nixon, Kinder eggs, and bird evolution. And now I have done so, so go read it!