Friday roundup: New soccer stadiums, yet another Vegas arena, Falcons roof still not done

Happy fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, everybody! While you get ready to go to your anniversary parties and dress up as, um, hurricanes, and you know what, this riff isn’t going anywhere, let’s get to the news:

  • Had you forgotten about former UNLV basketball star Jackie Robinson’s $1.4 billion retractable-roofed-arena-plus-hotel-plus-other-stuff project just because Las Vegas already has one new arena, he hasn’t — and now says it’s a $2.7 billion project that will include a 63-story hotel, a conference center, a 24-lane bowling alley, and a wedding chapel. No construction has begun yet, but Robinson says it will all be completed by 2020, or else maybe by then it will cost $5.2 billion and include a space elevator.
  • Chris Hansen is trying a new gambit to turn attention away from Oak View Group’s KeyArena renovation plan and toward his SoDo new-arena plan, and it involves declaring the OVG plan a “public” and not a “private” process, which would require a longer environmental review process, and if your eyes are glazing over already I don’t blame you, skip to the next item, it’s got juicy if unproven allegations of political corruption in it.
  • New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 re-election campaign a $65,000 donation that’s twice as large as all other donations he’s previously given the governor combined, and with Wilpon in the midst of looking to get approval from the state for a new soccer stadium Islanders arena (sorry, had a brain fart on this one while typing) next to Belmont Park racetrack … well, you connect the dots. (Or don’t: An Empire State Development spokesperson snapped, “Participation in the political process has zero bearing on any of this and any of these ‘sources’ with questions are free to contact us instead of trafficking in conspiracy theories.”) Bigger question: Fred Wilpon has $65,000 to spare?
  • The Atlanta Falcons‘ retractable roof is now set to finally work by March 2018. Probably.
  • Nashville held a hearing on its proposed $75 million soccer stadium subsidy deal, and if you guessed that a self-proclaimed soccer mom said it would be a “feather in our cap” while a non-soccer-fan local resident said “you’re asking me to help fund a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar project for another sports team that most likely will not benefit me,” then you’re right on the money.
  • The prospective NASL team San Diego 1904 F.C. is planning a stadium that will cost only $15 million because it will be built modularly elsewhere and shipped to the stadium site in Oceanside, but at least they didn’t skimp on the searchlight renderings.
  • The chair of Rhode Island’s senate finance committee says he’ll put a halt to the Pawtucket Red Sox‘ $38 million stadium subsidy request if the team owners don’t provide more financial information. It sounds like this is over the team’s internal finances, and could be resolved with a non-disclosure agreement, but still, it’s something to keep an eye on, since projects have succeeded or fallen over pettier things.
  • Louisville approved $30 million in bonds to help pay for a new Louisville City F.C. soccer stadium, in exchange for which the team will repay $14.5 million over 10 years, which comes to about $11 million in present value, so the city will only lose $19 million on the deal, unless there’s still plans for as much as $35 million in state property-tax kickbacks via a TIF, in which case this is really a $54 million subsidy for a minor-league soccer stadium. Maybe they should go with one of those modular dealies instead? Just a thought.

30 comments on “Friday roundup: New soccer stadiums, yet another Vegas arena, Falcons roof still not done

  1. It seems like MLS and other soccer leagues have slipped right back into the grift, after some encouraging signs in Portland, St. Paul, and Orlando. Disappointing.

    • I don’t know that Saint Paul is that encouraging. They are still considering a TIF on the surrounding development, and overall the terms are still much better than a a regular business with that negligible impact would get.

      But yeah it is not a terrible deal as these things go, but not great either.

  2. Actually Fred Wilpon is pushing the NHL arena and not the MLS stadium. Let me be the first to say that the NHL deal will be a bad deal for taxpayers and the MLS deal might be fair.

    • I’m not sure the NHL team is even looking in the right place, they won’t be back near the Coliseum but also won’t be near the city in the Barc center either…

      I would be curious to know where the fan base actually resides for the Islanders. I mean, more than just “on long island.”

      • Most of the Islander fan base is on LI, which will help attendance at a potential Belmont Arena, but unlike Nassau Coliseum, you’ve got LIRR access (limited at present) to Belmont, which will enable fans from other parts of the city to get to Islander games at the new facility, assuming it happens.

        This may be as right a place as it gets for the Islanders, as Willets Point is tied up in a serious legal morass and real estate options in a dense metro such as NYC are limited. To paraphrase Ledecky, Belmont or Bust.

      • Possibly a dumb question from a geographic standpoint, but if the Belmont proposal requires transit upgrades and the problem with the Coliseum was that it never had very good transit connections…

        Would it be cheaper and better for money to be spent upgrading the transit links to the (now upgraded) Coliseum than to spend a lesser amount on transit (probably) at Belmont but also have to, you know, end up paying for the arena with public money as well?

        • No train line even comes close to the Coliseum — I guess you could build a light rail thing or something, but that could easily be more expensive than an arena.

          • Ok thanks. Yes, if more than a mile or two of subway is needed, or perhaps a few miles of surface run railway, it isn’t going to be cheaper.

            I seem to recall being told that the problem at the coliseum was that the transit connections were not available outside of working hours (also a problem in many other areas of NY I understand), but if that is not the case and there simply is no LIRR access anywhere near it, it’s not going to be feasible to expand.

          • When the Coliseum was built in the early 1970s, there was talk of having a light rail connection to Westbury NY. The Coliseum even put down some concrete on the east side of the building for it. Needless to say it didn’t happen and I doubt it could be done for anything reasonable to me.
            There are train tracks 1.5 miles north of the Coliseum where Ringling Brothers railroad cars would be parked when tje circus was in town. But since no one ever talked about making that line operational and installing a light rail to the Coliseum, it would seem not doable for a 13,000 capacity arena.

    • The NHL deal is 100% privately financed other than the extra cost of stopping at Belmont Park station. The MLS deal hasn’t even released funding. Also an arena is at least somewhat multi purpose a soccer stadium is used 20 something days a year.

        • NYCFC has always claimed to pay for 100% construction at every possible site so far mentioned. Not going to assume that would change at a site with competitive bids. Although that would explain the Islanders governor buy off, sorry meant to say campaign contribution. Wink wink

      • Just as a point of reference, Toyota Park, the home of the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, IL, is also used as a concert venue. I believe several other MLS stadiums are too.

  3. Has anyone ever been to a sporting event that had searchlights outside? I have been by world series and stanley cup host buildings, and to a bunch of opening day/nights for basketball and baseball, and never seen a searchlight.

    I am starting to think that all of the artists renderings have been lying to us!

    • Nope.

      This used to be a feature of Hollywood PR reels in the middle part of the last century also… but at least then the spotlights were employed (sometimes) for a purpose… to Illuminate billboards (which were not LED or otherwise lit at the time, obviously).

      • I’ve definitely seen them at sporting events, though I can’t place exactly which ones. (Especially those rotating sets of four that sweep together than then apart.) It’s a semi-common way to make an otherwise marginal event feel like it’s a big deal, so actually pretty appropriate for a USL match.

  4. The letter from Hansen’s Land Use Attorney makes clear it was a “throw everything we can at them” letter.

    http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/edms/GetDocument.aspx?src=WorkingDocs&id=933774

  5. It seems to me we have buried the lede with the “San Diego” MLS team: nothing says “major league” like Oceanside.

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