Shreveport, Pensacola duking it out to throw $30m or so at minor-league Pelicans affiliate

I have a pretty good system of Google alerts (and helpful readers who send me links — thanks, helpful readers!) to let me know about stadium and arena battles large and small, but somehow the New Orleans Pelicans‘ bid to start an NBA D-League* team somewhere in the south in 2018 slipped through my net. Fortunately, Deadspin’s Patrick Redford has the scoop, courtesy of the Shreveport Times:

The Pelicans will apparently announce the winner in September, which is also when Shreveport will decide whether or not to go forward with one of the saddest and dumbest arena financing deals in recent memory.

As the Shreveport Times reported, Mayor Ollie Tyler announced plans to move forward with a $100 million complex in downtown Shreveport. More details will be revealed at a city council meeting tonight, but the complex is a mixed-use deal, which will include a 3,000-seat arena as well as condos, shops, and a sports complex. Tyler’s plan calls for the city to kick in $30 million of public money.

The plan actually calls for the city to sell $30 million in revenue bonds, with the revenue to come from … hang on, I’m sure it’s in the proposal somewhere … scroll, scroll … okay, it doesn’t actually indicate that at all. Maybe the team will pay lots of rent! Or maybe, considering that the Pelicans are owned by the guy who has a 13-foot statue of himself outside the stadium that he successfully got the state of Louisiana to both pay to renovate and to pay his team an annual fee to play in, it’ll just be tax revenue that the city would get anyway.

From what I can tell from this very uninformative TV report, the Shreveport city council voted 5-2 last night to approve … something, though whether it actually commits the city to go through with it if the Pelicans select it as a D-League site isn’t entirely clear. Meanwhile, Pensacola is pitching its own $80-100 million arena and mixed-use complex, with a “not specified” amount of public money. This is the problem with minor-league sports venue deals: With no shortage of small cities thinking this is just what they need to put them on the map, but a minuscule economic impact even by the usual not-very-impressive sports standards, it’s a perfect recipe for a costly bidding war. C’mon, Shreveport and Pensacola councilmembers, be like Nashville and read Deadspin before discussing your local sports venue deal!

Meanwhile, here’s an image of the Shreveport arena rendering. Do we think that there’s some kind of sports-pedestrian clip art that renderers use for these? If not, why is that woman in the sunglasses chewing her fingernails?

*Yeah, I know the D-League has a new name thanks to a corporate naming-rights deal, but neither Deadspin nor I play that game.


4 comments on “Shreveport, Pensacola duking it out to throw $30m or so at minor-league Pelicans affiliate

  1. I’m sure the taxpayers will be on the hook in Shreveport for whatever the public sector ends up paying for the new arena…it’s Louisiana, which is right up there with New Jersey and Illinois in the Most Politically Corrupt State sweepstakes.

    And good on you and Deadspin for not playing the corporate naming rights game. When I was a radio newscaster doing sports segments on Seattle teams, I purposely avoided mentioning the venues teams play in up there. No telephone or insurance company was paying ME any money. I often toyed with selling “exclusive naming rights” for stadiums/arenas to listeners at $10 per newscast (with proceeds going to local youth sports organizations), but management would’ve never gone for it.

  2. It’s not like there’s a white elephant arena across the Red River from Shreveport that’s less than 20 years old they could play at…oh wait.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CenturyLink_Center_(Bossier_City)

    • Some of these smaller city arena deals, though smaller scale, are so much sadder than the bigger ones (although Glendale AZ gets the worst of both worlds). There is no place to hide them in city finances. There was one I read about years ago (possibly the one in Hidalgo, TX that seemed designed to lose money).

  3. Oh no I hope this doesn’t become trend. The let’s lose one for the Lottery Ball 76ers team plays in a nice 5,000 seat arena on the campus of The Univ. of Delaware. I followed the link boz posted and to have a city official admit that raises for city workers were not given because they had a building to pay for.

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