Friday roundup: Marlins claim British residency, video football with real humans, and the White Sox stadium that never was

Busy (minor) news week! And away we go…

  • Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins ownership group, facing a lawsuit by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County over the team stiffing the public on the share of sale proceeds they were promised, are trying to stave it off by claiming that (deep breath) because one of the owners of an umbrella company of an umbrella company of the umbrella company that owns the Marlins is a business incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, the case should be arbitrated by a federal judge who handles international trade issues. Maybe the Marlins should quit trying to sell tickets to baseball games and sell tickets to the court proceedings instead.
  • Tampa Bay Rays chief development officer Melanie Lenz, in response to concerns that a big-ass baseball stadium wouldn’t fit into the Ybor City historic district that it would be on the border of, said that “we expect to build a next-generation, neighborhood ballpark that fits within the fabric of the Ybor City community,” though she didn’t give any details. That’s vague enough to be reassuring without actually promising anything concrete, but it’s worth making a note of just in case the historic district ends up becoming a stumbling block in stadium talks, which, stranger things have happened.
  • A guy wants to start a football league where fans vote on what plays to run via Twitch, and build an arena in Las Vegas for people to watch … the players? The voting? The Las Vegas Review-Journal article about it was a bit unclear, though it did say that the organizers want to “create the experience of playing a football video game with real people,” which isn’t creepy at all. It also reports that the league plans to use blockchain technology, which is how you know it’s probably a sham.
  • Something called the Badger Herald, which I assume is a University of Wisconsin student paper but which I really hope is a newspaper targeted entirely at badgers, ran an article by a junior economics major arguing that the new Milwaukee Bucks arena will be a boon to the city because during the first few years “many will come from across the state to watch the Bucks play in this impressive new facility” and after that it will “continue giving the people of Milwaukee a reason to be optimistic.” The author also says that the arena was built after “the NBA gave the Bucks an ultimatum — either obtain a new arena, or the NBA would buy the Bucks and sell the franchise to another city,” which, uh, no, that’s not what happened at all.
  • Here’s a really nice article for CBS Sports by my old Baseball Prospectus colleague Dayn Perry on the Chicago White Sox ballpark proposed by architect Philip Bess that never got built. Come for the cool pictures of spiders, stay for the extended explanation of why supporting columns that obstruct some views are a design feature that stadium architects never should have abandoned!
  • The Los Angeles Rams are trying to pull a San Francisco 49ers, according to Deadspin, by making a run at a Super Bowl in the same year they’re selling personal seat licenses for their new stadium. More power to ’em, but prospective Rams PSL buyers, check how that worked out for 49ers fans before you hand over your credit card numbers, okay?
  • The state of Connecticut has cut $100 million for Hartford arena renovations from the state budget, at least for now, so that it can use the money toward a $550 million bailout of the city of Hartford itself. Is that what they call a “no win-win situation“?
  • NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the New York Islanders need to move back to Long Island because Brooklyn’s Barclays Center “wasn’t built for hockey,” which he actually pointed out at the time they moved there, but did anybody listen?
  • Alameda County is moving to sell its share of the Oakland Coliseum complex to the city of Oakland, which should make negotiations over what to do with the site slightly simpler, anyway.
  • That Missouri governor who killed a proposed St. Louis MLS stadium subsidy, calling it “welfare for millionaires,” is now under pressure to resign after his former hairdresser claimed he groped her, slapped her, and coerced her into sex acts. Maybe we should just stop electing men to public office? Just a thought.

31 comments on “Friday roundup: Marlins claim British residency, video football with real humans, and the White Sox stadium that never was

  1. Just a thought…but if they Marlins are claiming they have “moved” does that mean that they could possibly be on the hook for “moving” from Marlins Park, and have to pay the city of Miami relocation / termination fees? It seems plausible…

  2. Watching the Marlins’ court proceedings would definitely be better than their games. And I think things are just getting started. If they would be found liable for any damages in this lawsuit by the city/county they would absolutely sue Loria to recoup any losses and they could even preemptively sue him to try and get the courts to absolve them of any responsibility ahead of time. And if Loria was lying to the city/county about the team’s finances what are the odds he might have also lied to these new owners? They overpaid by a huge degree and seem cash-poor as pro sports owners go. With attendance off to a lousy start they could get desperate and Loria may have given them an opening if he’s found to have been cooking the books.

    • Pulling a rookie pitcher who was throwing a no-hitter after six innings and then having the bullpen go on to lose the game is truly an impressive feat of non-entertainment value. Fortunately, from what I could tell from the TV broadcast, the only people there to see it were Mets fans, who enjoyed it to no end.

      • There are many reasons why a football league that has twitch users picking the plays is a bad idea.

        …..I would go see said bad idea live once but honestly they should just try to rent Orleans Arena. This idea ain’t lasting a season if at all and developing an arena specific for it is its own bad idea.

  3. Hopefully, the citizens of Tampa and HIllsborough County will be at least as concerned about no taxpayer money going to the stadium, as some folks are about messing up the architecture of Ybor City.

  4. Beware of the “deep state” power of the secretive society known as the MLS. The Governor of Missouri helps kill a stadium, and then revelations of his abusive encounters “mysteriously” become public. Coincidence? Yes.

  5. The story behind the ‘video game football league’ is actually more ridiculous… they somehow convinced the Indoor Football League to let them operate two teams in their league a year or two ago. The teams lots a metric ****ton of money and couldn’t draw flies to games let alone fans, yet they refer to it as “proof of concept” in their financial prospectus.

    And that’s the next ridiculous element… they’re trying to sell not stock in the company via public offering but “fan tokens” which allegedly are going to give buyers the ability to call plays and so forth.

    They were supposed to start this year, but pushed things back to 2019 because they hadn’t found the ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in funding they were looking to raise.

    What a surprise…

    • Wow, that is truly amazingly ridiculous. And explains the “blockchain” thing — clearly they’re trying the same business model as these guys: https://joincivil.com/how-it-works/

  6. Chris Hansen still wants to build a NBA arena in Seattle, separate from the one the city is already planning to build.

    www.king5.com/article/news/local/investor-still-wants-sodo-arena-despite-keyarena-deal/281-535806814

  7. “The Los Angeles Rams are trying to pull a San Francisco 49ers”

    lol

    The Niners have a waiting list(30 year) and a strong fan base. Los Angeles has neither. Except for the visiting teams attending games in LA.

    The PSL ‘s will never sell out in Los Angeles win or lose, there is no fan local fan base, there is no local fan base for any teams. Nobody cares about sports in LA.

    • You know, when I put in that “no trolling” rule, I didn’t think I’d have to use it so quickly.

      This is your one and only warning, Rabb: If you have an actual point to make, make it. If you’re just trying to pick an online fight with the entire city of Los Angeles for some reason, take it somewhere else, or it will be taken there for you.

      • Hmm, if you visit the 49ers’ website, the first thing you see is a “season tickets available now” button. If I wanted to, I guess I could get season tickets in the random price zone I tried (101 row 32 seats 8 and 9 if anyone’s interested).

        • True Brian, and if you look at the avg attendance for more or less any LA based team, you will see their SF/Oakland/SJ/Santa Clara counterpart has lower average attendance (though sometimes not by much). The posts in question are not factual.

          For example, the only way you can get to a “30 year” waiting list for Santa Clara 49ers tickets is if you include the PSL holders who are going to have to wait that long to sell them.

          I’m not sure that’s the kind of “waiting list” for tickets we generally think of, but I guess they are waiting… probably some are waiting desperately for an opportunity to sell.

  8. The White Sox story was great. I remember going to a game at “Comiskey Part II” soon after it opened and thinking that it was probably a step down from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia (which to be honest, was actually a good place to watch baseball, if a bit short on “amenities.”).

    On one point, it is hard to fault Reindsorf–the White Sox have never been a big draw at that location, in part because they were usually decent while rarely being awesome. Even when they were solid in the 1950s with Luis Aparicio/Nellie Fox, they had the misfortune to be good when some excellent New York and Cleveland teams were good at the same time. Regardless, they were often a 4-figure average attendance team at that location, and building a freeway next to it probably didn’t help.

    I guess that’s the strange thing about new parks–we don’t really love them, but they seem to have played some role in the baseball attendance explosion since the 1990s, even if most of the other promises remain unfilled.

    • I just read the entire article on the Chicago White Sox ballpark by Dayn Perry. Very good read! thank you.

      Shortly after Comiskey Park II opened, I took a ballpark tour and got to walk on the field. From between home plate and pitcher’s mound, I looked up at the grandstand and thought to myself “Wow, the upper deck is so high and steep. That’s because of the 3 levels of premium seats. Note to self: never sit in the upper deck here.” This is the #1 problem with the newer ballparks, compared to older ones. Not the surrounding parking lots or the lack of supporting columns, but the need to insert more luxury suites and premium club seats between the lower and upper decks. I know it’s necessary to generate higher revenues, but I would try to add more rows to the lower deck, pushing the premium section a little further back, and chopping off half of the upper deck. Just saying

    • Good points, GDub.

      Baseball, like most other sports, seem to be going after a very different kind of fan today than they did in years gone by.

      The richer fan demands the additional amenities and, to one degree or another, is willing to pay for them. That said, almost none of the typical “sports palace” features would be included if the teams/owners had to pay for them themselves… so we have this farcical false economy where taxpayers are forced to pay for amenities most of them can never afford to actually use and for which the beneficiaries (team owners, well heeled fans) refuse to pay.

      I find most “new” stadia to be far more shopping mall than sports facility. It is nice to be able to get to and from seats and washrooms more easily and quickly than before, but I don’t find the places put the focus on the sport being played. Perhaps they are not intended to, who knows.

  9. Really enjoyed the “Comiskey that never was” article Neil, thanks.

    I knew about Reinsdorf’s threats to move (Giants used the same destination later… after having used Toronto as a threat years before…) to Florida, but did not know that this proposal had ever existed.

    I thought the Bess layout was nice enough (it predated Camden Yards of course), but the Polo grounds style outfield would not have worked well (can you imagine the complaints from the MLBPA on behalf of their powerhitters?). Nor would the lower deck outfield seats past the first and third base mark… which have fans staring straight out into the opposite outfield. Those things could easily have been fixed, of course.

    I’ve been in plenty of stadia that have upper deck support columns in the lower deck seating area. While they aren’t ideal, so long as the seating is arranged so that no-one is right beside or behind them, it isn’t a significant problem…. except in new Yankee Stadium, where they built vertical walls (that support nothing of importance) right along side some of the seating areas in the outfield… so paying fans can only see seven of the home nine when they are in the field.

    Rather than the current fad of “concrete moats”, I would prefer to see stadium designers use relatively small lower stands (20-25 rows or so), then begin cantilevering additional decks/mezzanines/suite levels right away. It isn’t the steepness of upper decks that concerns me (look at the first Yankee stadium, for example…), it’s the set back.

    The sheer physical size of stadia today means that you can cantilever and overhang seating decks a fair distance (IE: there’s lots of “stadium” behind the cantilever to anchor to, which wasn’t the case a century or so ago).

    Again, though, when someone else is paying, why pay any attention to the cost of building something?

  10. “I knew about Reinsdorf’s threats to move (Giants used the same destination later… after having used Toronto as a threat years before…) to Florida, but did not know that this proposal had ever existed.”

    Philip Bess’s Armour Field plan takes up a bunch of chapter 8 of Field of Schemes, so you got some ‘splainin’ to do, mister.

  11. As someone who went to a few games at Yankee Stadium I, the Polo Grounds and Cleveland Municipal stadium, the idea that supporting columns should return is as wacky as saying we should start automobiles by using a hand crank. Does anyone watch televsion with having a broomstck or a tall floor lamp halfway between their seat and the set? Don’t think so.

    • As someone who’s been to games at Wrigley, Comiskey, Tiger, Fenway, etc., I respectfully disagree. If you can move 20,000 seats closer to the field in exchange for making a few hundred obstructed-view, that’s a reasonable tradeoff.

  12. There was actually an article in Sports Illustrated back in the early ’90s about obstructed views and moving fans closer to the field. This was at the tail end of the “Cookie Cutter” stadium era, and right before the “Baseball Specific Stadium” nonsense kicked off. It should be noted that Camden Yards wasn’t really trying to be a trend setter in this regard, Baltimore didn’t have an NFL team at the time. The actual original sin was Jacobs Field.

    • I remember going to a playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium many years ago–it had a majestic location, and was all lit up and packed full of energy. One of the most exciting sports nights of my life. The stadium looked nice and didn’t need to be Forbes Field to be special. Cincinnati and St. Louis’s round stadiums had a nice placing too.

      At the same time, as much as I loved Tiger Stadium–those old parks weren’t built for a world when fans don’t always watch the game. I have a memory of a constant flow of people in front of my seat–can’t really blame them when AL games dragged on longer than 3hours.

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