Friday roundup: Panthers stadium rumors, Isles temporary arena plans, and Project Wolverine

It’s the first news roundup of 2018! Please remember to stop writing “2017” on all your stadium-subsidy checks.

  • The Carolina Panthers haven’t even been sold yet following owner Jerry Richardson’s resignation amid sexual harassment complaints, and already Charlotte news outlets are wondering where a new owner would put the new stadium that they would no doubt demand. The Panthers’ current stadium is 24 years old. Yes, human civilization is doomed.
  • The Rhode Island state senate has tweaked its Pawtucket Red Sox stadium proposal, giving the city of Pawtucket a flat $250,000-a-year cut of naming rights fees instead of 50% of whatever the team got, and clarifying that the team would pay overruns on construction costs, but not land acquisition costs. The PawSox owners released a statement calling this “encouraging,” while House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he has “sensed resistance with the public” to putting $38 million in public cash into the deal. It looks likely that this is still headed for another Senate-House standoff, in other words.
  • New Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter has a plan code-named Project Wolverine (for Jeter’s home state of Michigan, not the X-Man) that projects windfall profits by getting Fox to give the team a massive new TV deal and attendance to spike despite selling off all his best players. This has nothing to do with stadiums except to remind everyone that giving former owner Jeffrey Loria a new ballpark at taxpayer expense was a waste of close to a billion dollars, and getting Loria to sell to Jeter doesn’t seem to have raised hopes any of having management that isn’t delusional or focused solely on squeezing every last dollar of profit possible from a franchise that will forever be selling off any players as soon as they figure out how to play baseball. Miami might have been better off keeping its money and using it to buy residents plane tickets to go see a real baseball team.
  • NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the league “wouldn’t rule out” the New York Islanders playing games temporarily at Nassau Coliseum while a new arena at Belmont Park is under construction, which makes sense, because why would they? Sure, the Coliseum now only holds 13,000 for hockey games after its renovation, but the Islanders’ current home of the Barclays Center only holds 15,795, and at least the Coliseum doesn’t have its ice all off-center. Plus, the Islanders aren’t drawing even 13,000 a game anyway, so it’ll just be a matter of fewer empty seats until the new arena is opened, which we still don’t know when that would be, do we? It’ll be interesting to see what kind of lease Coliseum owner Mikhail Prokhorov offers to the Islanders owners — on the one hand, they’re threatening to go off and build a new arena that will compete with his, but on the other, he pretty badly wants them out of the Barclays Center, so it’s anybody’s guess.

14 comments on “Friday roundup: Panthers stadium rumors, Isles temporary arena plans, and Project Wolverine

  1. How will the balance sheet look at Barclays once the Islanders leave? Isn’t it more-or-less breaking even with them? Losing 50 events a year wouldn’t be helpful; how could it be?

    • Barclays guarantees the Islanders a set payment and then collects all the Islanders arena revenues itself. So it’s entirely possibly they’re losing money on hosting the Islanders, or at least making less than they would by filling in some of the dates with concerts.

      • As we’re learning in Sacramento, getting substitute events is not easy. Remember how the City was given 9 events a year at Golden 1? They ended up using zero of the days available to them, and if you don’t use them, they don’t carry over.

        Anyway, I’ve been keeping tabs on events at Golden 1, and you can too. Business is down about 10% for 2018. They had 133 events in year 1, and they’re down from there. Isn’t that about half the number of events Barclays hosts?

        I got these counts directly from SBH.

        Created a spreadsheet. In 2017, they had 17 events in January; in 2018, they’ll have 14. Business is down in every month, except Oct 2016 (11) and 2017 (13). Every other month is down 10% or more year-to-year.

        • The New York metro area has roughly 10x the population of Sacramento, so there are a few concerts to go around, though if the Belmont arena gets built that’ll put a dent in Barclays’ available shows. It’s entirely possible that the Barclays folks think that the Islanders were actually costing them dates, since the NHL schedule reduced flexibility and required down time to make ice, rearrange seats, etc.

          I’m not saying I think that ditching the Islanders is a slam-dunk for the arena, but I can see why they might want to give it a shot.

          • I thought I read Prokhorov runs the coliseum now too, and pushed to have it remodeled/downsized but may be wrong.

            Also I think I remember on Hockey******* (no shameless plugs) that Gary Bettman nixed the idea of the coliseum already a few times.

          • Prokhorov does own it, but it was renovated by Ratner before he bought it from him.

            And if Daly is saying okay now to the Coliseum, it must be okay with Bettman. I’m sure he was saying no to it before as a long-term solution, because the Isles owners needed leverage to get the Belmont site.

        • Another thing to keep in mind is Golden1Center (or any sports arena) may get 7 home games in Jan 2017 but only 5 in Jan 2018 due to league scheduling. Each NBA arena will still get their 41 regular season home games per year. The concert business also has an ebb and flow to it. Summers tend to be light for indoor facilities. Thanksgiving to MLK is lighter as well.

          • Well. for 2017, we had:

            April: 7
            May: 6
            June: 10
            July: 9
            August: 5
            September: 8

            That seems like extremely little usage to me.

          • That seems about right, given the Sacramento market size and financial demographic. Its not that G1C couldn’t book more, but booking profitable events is their focus.

  2. According to the article, former Charlotte city manager Ron Kimble told the city council, “that the city’s tourism taxes can’t cover the city’s share of a $1 billion stadium. That share could be $300 million to $500 million.”

    Is there a law on the books that says that the city is obligated to pay a certain percentage for the construction of new sports stadia? Or is Kimble simply assuming that the city should pay half, because that’s what happened last time?

    Too bad the article didn’t go into any detail about that city council meeting.

  3. 820,000 paid tickets at Marlins park…. that sounds about right from what I saw of game day attendance on tv (the few Marlins games that were on and watchable, anyway).

    10,000 per game, not including season ticket/package holders who did not bother using their tickets. Say 9k-9500 per game having both paid and showed up.

    That’s poor minor league attendance in some markets.

  4. Didn’t the Islanders say they had to ‘get out’ of the coliseum because it was so bad they were only drawing 13k and change there?

    The coliseum has certainly been improved, so that shouldn’t be an issue. What we don’t know is what percentage of the 4k+ in empty seats was down to the team being terrible, the team being run by an owner who often appeared deranged, and a team being managed day to day by the guy who went straight from backup goalie to the GM’s office.

    The coliseum will be fine as a short term solution. If the NHL relented on the revenue sharing rules that permit revenue sharing only for non-large market (which the Islanders are considered, even when they played in Hempstead) clubs, they might just as well stay there.

    That said, I’m sure Bettman will insist that they get someone else to pay for an arena somewhere.

    Is it worth pointing out again that Chuckie was given the opportunity to invest a relatively small amount of money in the Brooklyn arena and have it fully hockey compatible, but scoffed at the idea?

    It’s going to cost his successors a great deal more to undo that error, though at least they seem likely to have a ‘dedicated’ arena when this is all over.

  5. It is possible for the Nassau Coliseum to put in extra seats. A number of them were removed with the renovation being mainly installing a tin foil roof. Empty spaces in the Bob Uecker area. Don’t know what the costs could be but it would be in the 15,000 capacity.
    But the narrow corridors that made intermission such a problem remain. And they have video screen about the size of a kitchen microwave oven over center ice

  6. As far the Marlins, there was a notation buried in the plan that suggested they could magically go from $30 mil to $37 mil in revenue.

    Magic? Nah. Math!

    Charge 2.5x more for tickets, and let attendance drop off by half. Voila. 30×2.5/2=37

    Totally laughable.