Handicapping Deadspin’s “Worst Stadium Scam” Vote

Deadspin is holding its second annual Deadspin Awards, and among the categories, you will be excited to know, is Worst Stadium Scam. And it’s set to be a tight race, with these candidates, not all of which are technically from 2017, but let’s not nitpick:

  • The Raiders robbing Las Vegas
  • The Flames trying to rob Calgary
  • The Falcons robbing Atlanta
  • The Louisville Cardinals robbing Louisville
  • FC Cincinnati robbing Cincinnati
  • The Pistons and Red Wings robbing Detroit

Even though these seem mostly selected by which stories were covered by Deadspin in the last year (Nashville SC robbing Nashville didn’t make the cut, nor did the Cavaliers robbing Cleveland), that’s a pretty solid selection. The Raiders and Falcons stand out for the scale of the subsidies — the Raiders will get $750 million in state cash while paying zero rent, while the Falcons will end up getting almost that much over time — and the Falcons have the bonus scamminess of hiding $400 million of their payday in a “waterfall fund” that will keep paying out long after the stadium’s opening. The Flames and FC Cincinnati haven’t been successful in their shakedowns yet, but are notable for trying (and failing) to get a more team-friendly mayor elected in the former case, and for demanding subsidies on the grounds that their owner has never asked for them before so he’s due in the latter. The Red Wings and Pistons are getting about $350 million in public money from a bankrupt city (or from a state that is otherwise starving a bankrupt city, at least), while the Louisville basketball arena deal is just a nightmare without an end.

I’m not going to reveal how I voted, except to say that it was a tough decision, and I won’t be unhappy at all if one of my second choices takes home the prize. Go cast your ballot now, and give extortionate corporate behavior and terrible public policy the shiny trophy it so desperately deserves.

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17 comments on “Handicapping Deadspin’s “Worst Stadium Scam” Vote

  1. I’d have to give that, to old FC Cincy.

    At least all of the others are either major league teams, or a major college program, all having a long history.

    Who did those FC Cincy people think they were? Some come along lately, minor-league team, in sport that no one in this country cares about. And, they came rolling in, like they owned the place.

    And weren’t they planning on building the stadium, on the Kentucky side of the river?

    Putting all of that together, they get my vote. Even if they didn’t get any money. Just the fact that they tried with a straight face, you know…

  2. Since Calgary and Cincinnati haven’t achieved their goals, I’d say the scummiest has to be Detroit. That city has crumbling infrastructure and a school system in need of so much that could be done with even a portion of the public outlay for the arena.

    If Cobb County were an option, I’d be tempted to pick them.

  3. Not very objective of Dead spin to omit the Cobb County Braves but put FC Cincy. BTW FCC will pay 100% of stadium construction ! Also the 50 million of 75million being spent in Nashville is for infrastructure work that needed to be done at fairgrounds before the stadium plan came in play.

    1. 1) “FCC will pay 100% of stadium construction” – not true, since they’ve said they’ll want to be repaid with tax revenues: http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2017/11/09/13130/fc-cincinnati-exec-our-new-stadium-will-be-mumbletaxkickbacksmumble-totally-awesome/

      2) “50 million of 75 million being spent in Nashville is for infrastructure work that needed to be done at fairgrounds” – you have a source for that?

      1. Soccer America daily.com Paul Kennedy article on FCC to pay 100% of stadium. By lowering capacity from 25k to 21k. County still rejected offer but did offer to build 1000 car garage in Oakley area if team pays infrastructure.

        1. Okay, was able to find that one:


          FC Cincinnati is now saying it wants $70-75m, and assigning all of that to “infrastructure.” No details on what that would actually be for, beyond “parking, roads, and utilities.”

    2. The Braves would of made the poll last year, but I don’t think Deadspin covered that in any manner in the 2017.

  4. I’m surprised the Bucks robbing Milwaukee and the Vikings robbing Minneapolis got no love from Dead Spin.

  5. It’s too soon to tell because we haven’t seen the financial reports yet, but Golden 1 Center should be a candidate. However, I think with the Bengals stadium, everything else is no better than an honorable mention.

    Levi Stadium is way up the list too.

  6. Gotta vote for Louisville. I get a private business driving a hard bargain. But a taxpayer-funded university gouging a taxpayer-funded municipality?
    In the words of the film “To Die For”: It simply boggles one with disbelief.”

  7. I just found out that one of Sacramento’s best coffee shops, Temple Coffee at 9th and J, located within 5 blocks of Golden 1 Center, has changed its operating hours from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., because the parking meters that stay on until 10 ruined their business. Only the one location had to change its hours.

    It makes sense. Why pay $5 for a latte and $3 for parking, when you can go to another location and pay $5 for the latte and get free parking?

    I have a feeling many other businesses are about to do the same. Where the streets used to be crowded in that area, now when you go after 5 p.m., these streets are very quiet when there’s no arena event (230 nights out of 365).

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