Friday roundup: Senators owner stalling on arena commitment, Jaguars owner wants to buy Wembley, and gondolas, forever gondolas

As late as Wednesday, I thought this was turning out to be a slow news week. Then the news made up for it in a hurry:

  • The New York Islanders owners held a question-and-answer session for residents near their planned new arena on Tuesday, and when asked about how they plan to increase Long Island Railroad service to avoid tons of auto traffic, a state development official said, “We are in very active discussions with the LIRR — meeting with them once a week — and those talks are ramping up.” Hopefully they’re involving Dr. Strange in those discussions, because they badly need to find some new topological dimensions.
  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he plans to talk to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk about whether he actually plans to pursue the LeBreton Flats arena development he won rights to last year, after Melnyk called it “a huge project with tremendous risk” and said, “If it doesn’t look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I’m not suggesting that right now” and “Something’s got to break somewhere and I mean a positive break.” Melnyk has made threats like this before, but you’d think now that he has an agreed sale price for the land he’d be happy; it sure sounds like he’s angling for some additional public subsidies now that he has his mitts on the land, which you can’t really blame him for, since Watson opened the door to that already. Come on, mayor, haven’t you learned yet not to get the can opener out when the cat is around?
  • Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the group started by the Rays to push for business support for a new stadium, is signing up plenty of members, but DRaysBay notes that “the real test of commitment will come when businesses are asked to make clearer financial commitments to a stadium plan.” Yeah, no duh. (The subhead here, “Business leaders line up behind stadium plan, but financing questions linger,” is also a masterpiece of understatement.)
  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says that the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre “needs an update to make it as economically viable as possible,” noting that other stadiums “have millennial areas, things like that that have been built and become popular more recently.” So, like, an Instagram parlor?
  • Here’s a story about how 25 years ago the NHL handed Norman Green the rights to move the Minnesota North Stars to any open market as consolation for putting an expansion team in Anaheim, where he’d wanted to move, and he ended up going to Dallas. Also it has Roger Staubach in the headline for some reason.
  • And here’s a story about how 50 years ago NHL expansion inadvertently kicked off the rise of arena rock, which is probably overstated but it has links to vintage Cream videos in it, if you like that sort of thing.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is in talks with the Football Association to buy London’s Wembley Stadium for £600 million, which is certain to raise eyebrows about the possibility of the Jags moving to London, but is probably for right now more about Fulham F.C., which Khan also owns, being about to get promoted to the Premier League and wanting a bigger place to play. Khan also said, “I think it needs investment and updating. Compared to American stadiums the video boards are something that need to be looked at. The lounges are a little bit dated.” The current Wembley Stadium was built in 2007.
  • The son of former disgraced Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wants to build a gondola to take fans from Union Station to Dodger Stadium to avoid traffic. “It’s not actually crazy,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted on Thursday, which, given that this is a city considering allowing Elon Musk to build a network of tunnels to whisk residents about via some unknown technology, maybe we should take that with a grain of salt.
  • San Diego State says its stadium plans could eventually be expanded to fit an NFL team, for a mere additional $750-$850 million. Most San Diegans responding to an internet poll (which means some San Diegans, some non-San Diegans, and some dogs) don’t think they’re getting an NFL team anytime soon, anyway.
  • The Port of Oakland has approved giving the Oakland A’s owners exclusive negotiating rights to develop Howard Terminal, which now gives the A’s exclusive rights to two possible stadium sites. As DRaysBay would say, financing questions linger.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver has toured the new Milwaukee Bucks arena and says it has “unique sight lines.” Hopefully he means that in a good way, though I’m still wondering about that “sky mezzanine level.”

25 comments on “Friday roundup: Senators owner stalling on arena commitment, Jaguars owner wants to buy Wembley, and gondolas, forever gondolas

  1. They’ve got a great fanbase, have had some interesting players, and they stopped wearing the clown gear awhile ago, but it’s still amusing to me how Anaheim was founded as a ploy by Bruce McNall to get half the fee as an indemnity to keep his empire afloat while devaluing the asset most ohis creditors had security on, while all the owners just went along because “DISNEY.”

    I’m guessing the team’s official history video has a different angle, but…

    • Exactly Ty. It’s a greater story than how he used a photocopier and fax machine, as well as little to no actual money to buy one of the league’s most marketable US teams.

      There were plenty of signs that McNall didn’t have the money he pretended to have. But like most confidence tricksters and Ponzi scheme operators, he was able to keep the plates spinning for longer than should have been possible.

      I’m not sure that the arrival of the Ducks actually devalued the Kings at all (it could be argued that that expansion actually raised the values of all franchises I guess), but yeah, the whole “you get half” for splitting your market (that apparently reached the outskirts of Reno?) is an odd one, especially when introduced at the last minute as it was.

  2. Will Khan’s offer stay on the table if Fulham fail to promote, though? They’re a point behind second and if they don’t finish second, they enter a four-team playoff where the top seed has won promotion 9/24 times.

    • I would imagine so Trevor. He is going to have to spend money on Craven Cottage if the club comes up to the PL anyway (and likely would want to do so even if he didn’t “have” to). He has already filed plans for something like $100m in improvements to the very small stadium (25k approx).

      If he buys Wembley, he can not only save that $100m on making Craven Cottage slightly less unsuitable for a PL franchise, then sell the land it sits on for quite a tidy sum (don’t know enough about the footprint or area to guess how much, but it’s got to be another $100m or so if he develops housing on it… maybe more if it goes commercial – river front property and all that). The main question for me is how suitable is a 90k stadium for relatively small Fulham FC? Another concern would be the 10km or so move from their “home” territory. Clubs have moved before, but this is a long way from their present home ground.

      And if he owns Wembley, of course, he has the inside track for a London NFL franchise (whether that means the first “foreign” franchise – at least until Toronto and Mexico city are added – or just the first of a 4 team European division is hard to say).

      It’s not a certainty, but it’s far more likely if this deal goes through than without it.

      • Even though I’m a chelsea supporter I actually like Craven Cottage. It has an old time feel to it. — sort of like a premier league Wrigley Field.

        • It absolutely does…. but it was a marginal PL facility last time FFC were up. It likely won’t do should they come back. Price of progress???

      • Wembley is clearly too big to be Fulham’s regular venue. Out of all the Premier League teams ManU has a stadium over 70K seats. I am curious about him making this bid while also making proposals for the area around the stadium in Jacksonville. If he moves the team to London investments built around the Jacksonville stadium, which in theory would be leveraging the presence of the Jags, would be lose value.

        • I am having a hard time picturing anyone wanting to either live or locate a business in a Jacksonville development just because the Jaguars play nearby. A hotel, maybe, but even then there are more than 350 days a year you’d need to fill rooms without the help of football fans.

        • Maybe ManU could move to Wembley; it’s closer for the Manchester United fans.

      • Craven Cottage is a perfectly fine stadium for the Premier League, given the rather awful competition for “niceness” (the Liverpool teams play in some of the worst, though the Fenway guys are giving it a go with Anfield). It is far too small for a Champions League team, and I doubt Fulham really have those kinds of ambitions anyway.

        The owner has said that it won’t affect Fulham FC (for now), and that land is way too valuable to be used for a marginal Premier League team.

        Wembley is kind of a strange stadium. Too big for purpose, not a very convenient location (even with recent transit improvements), and not really needed (English fans learned that it was just as fun to see their mediocre team play around the country as it is to travel to London).

        Between the assets of Fulham and the Jags, Khan has a lot of equity to draw on for a splashy purpose. He can probably make enough money with a few more NFL games, and he’s positioned himself well for a “global expansion” team whenever that happens–simply sell the Jags and/or Craven Cottage and he comes out well ahead.

    • This article blew me away. I went to Wembley this year to see my team play and even though the Tottenham fans filled the place up and were reasonably boisterous, the place did not seem to have great atmosphere. If he plans to move Fulham there who don’t have that great fan support, I can see the move being an absolute disaster.

      • That’s a universal thing every time a franchise moves to a new venue, in any sport. It takes time for fans to adjust. When a team has been in a particular venue for generations lots of fans have been sitting with each other for years. You move to a new venue that gets broken up. Secondly, if you’re in a new place people are often looking around and not as focused on the game as they are in a venue they know well.

  3. Between getting rid of 4 pitches for an intentional walk (RIP potential scoring on a wild pitch from third) & now badmouthing the Rogers Center for not having enough millennial gimmicks…I’m starting to really hate the current commissioner of MLB.

    • Could that comment have sounded any more clueless and out-of-touch? He didn’t even have an example of what he was talking about in mind. It’s like he imagines a room where IDs get checked at the door and all the millenials hang out watching the game in the somehow totally unique way that millenials do.

      • The funny thing is that the building owners have spent a considerable amount of money to create ‘standing’ areas with tables and recharging stations (as well as really, really attractive young team employees wearing the latest team gear who circulate around the concourse talking to foolish young men and subtly encouraging them to spend more money… not that it takes much encouragement, of course…)

        So the team has done some of the things he is complaining about “not being” available. Which is really odd, because I’m pretty sure that the only reason that Manfred was in town was so he could be interviewed on TV by team employed journalists and express an opinion on how the team needs renovations to it’s stadium (presumably paid for by someone else, even though the team paid just $25m for the facility a decade or so ago).

        This isn’t how professional grifters are supposed to operate… you’d think they’d be better at this than they seem to be…

      • “MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says that the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre “needs an update to make it as economically viable as possible,” noting that other stadiums “have millennial areas, things like that that have been built and become popular more recently.” So, like, an Instagram parlor?”

        Manfred should be the commissioner of the league built for millennials and Instagram. I.e., MLS.

      • That and I can appreciate any ballpark that has a hotel built into it.

        If I’m ever going to pay for overly expensive skyboxes it might as well double as my hotel room.

          • No but there are hotels that overlook stadiums, Frisco TX Atlanta GA & Ottawa (although I think it was turned into condos)….there are quite a few features that are unique to ballparks as opposed to stadiums. Texas Rangers have an office park in the stadium.

            Also, Rob Manfred (amongst other things) is quite a nube when it comes to his job. Gary Bettman and the Goddell-bot are pros at being representatives for the owners and Manfred just seems to piss everyone off. His ideas are quite off the mark and really amateurish, I don’t see his vision for the league and the future…as attendance declines he should be pushed out.

            Unfortunately I don’t think the MLB owners are smart enough to get a new commissioner.

  4. Hmmn. I guess I’m not surprised that the linked story on the Stars leaving Minnesota for Dallas did not appear to mention that the Stars owners at the time had some legal troubles that would not follow them to Texas if they went…

  5. And, yet, with all this activity elsewhere, since July 2017 – Andrew Barroway gets up in the morning and goes to sleep thinking about a new stadium.

    www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nhl/coyotes/2017/07/14/andrew-barroway-reaffirms-commitment-keeping-coyotes-arizona/478144001/

    But that is all it is, just thinking.

  6. As I took the train and passed Belmont Park I thought the grandstand is fifty years old, why isn’t there a clamoring for a new grandstand? Just think of all the new economic activity the impact studies could cite!

    • Because no one cares much about horse racing anymore. The Triple Crown and that’s about it. If not for the Belmont Stakes that track would have met Hollywood Park’s fate long ago

  7. Wasn’t building a stadium on the Oakland waterfront basically the plot for Romeo Must Die?