Friday roundup: Nobody wants the Olympics, nobody wants the Marlins home run sculpture, nobody wants the Chargers (but L.A. is stuck with them through 2040)

So what else happened this week? Glad you asked:

  • Stockholm’s new city government said it won’t provide any public funding for a possible 2026 Winter Olympics. That would leave only Milan and Calgary as bidders, and the former hasn’t committed to public spending either, while the latter is set to hold a public referendum next month on hosting in the midst of complaints that no one knows how much it would cost. It’s still a longshot, but there’s a real chance here we could see our long-awaited “What if they held an Olympic bidding war and nobody showed up?” moment, or at least that the IOC will have to consider bids that don’t include its usual requirement that local government promise to backstop any losses.
  • “Several dozen” Long Island residents marched in protest last week against the New York Islanders‘ proposed arena near Belmont Park, saying it would create too much traffic and construction noise. Those aren’t the best reasons to be concerned about it in my book — I’d be more upset about the crazy discount on land New York state is giving the team, if I were a New York taxpayer, which I am — but maybe the protestors are worried about that too but it didn’t fit easily on a sign.
  • The owners of the Miami Marlins (i.e., Derek Jeter and the money men behind him) are going to have to pay $2.5 million to Miami-Dade County for moving Red Grooms’ home run sculpture outside their stadium, since relocating it means that Grooms will disavow the work and make it worthless. They should’ve just traded it to Milwaukee for some lousy prospects.
  • Oklahoma City is looking for capital projects to spend the next iteration of its sales-tax hike on, and Mayor David Holt says if a maybe-MLS-caliber soccer stadium isn’t included, “the Energy won’t be here forever.” The Energy, if that name draws a blank for you, is the city’s beloved USL franchise that’s been there since … 2014? It’s only a matter of time before teams start threatening to move before they even exist, isn’t it?
  • Bwahahahaha, the Los Angeles Chargers are reportedly locked into their lease at a new Inglewood stadium through 2040, so there’s no way they’re moving back to San Diego or elsewhere no matter how terrible their ticket sales are. Dean Spanos is so screwed! Uh, until he sells the team for a multibillion-dollar profit, but he’ll be crying the whole way to the bank, I promise you!

28 comments on “Friday roundup: Nobody wants the Olympics, nobody wants the Marlins home run sculpture, nobody wants the Chargers (but L.A. is stuck with them through 2040)

  1. Being more concerned about a dumb statue than the on field product…..truly Jeter is on his way to being the Fred Wilpon of Miami.

  2. “… Grooms will disavow the work and make it worthless.”

    I don’t think he had to disavow the work to make it worthless.

  3. Neil, I believe you came up with the idea of having permanent Olympic facilities in certain cities that rotated. Beijing seems we’ll equipped to handle both winter and summer games, so they can be on the list. Los Angeles and Paris can be on the roster for summer games, so the Olympics could possibly roseate between those 3 cities. The winter games are going to be more of a challenge. With climate change, who knows how snowpacks will be? Vancouver (Whistler and Cypress) had poor snow when they hosted the games.

    All in all, I find the games rather silly. I never follow or are interested in curling, but every 4 years I’ll watch for 30 minutes and wonder how clean a curlers floors are at home.

  4. “…since relocating it means that Grooms will disavow the work and make it worthless.”

    Cuz they plan on selling it? That may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week. And considering the weeks in which we live that’s saying a lot.

    Excuse me while I go “disavow” every dumb thing I’ve ever done, making it impossible for anyone else to remember them.

    • Yeah, I don’t get it. I can’t see how the location changes anything about the sculpture… and it’s not like there aren’t good/profitable films directed by Alan Smithee.

      Is Grooms really so notable that the only value the piece has is down to his attaching his name to it?

      If so that seems like a marketing opportunity… build something, sell it with name attached. Disavow ownership, buy it back from junk dealer and reattach your name to this long lost treasured piece. Hey, it has to work at least a couple of times….

  5. The NBC piece is interesting, but it’s really not conclusive.

    Sure, Kroenke has locked them in as tenants (while paying the full construction shot himself). And it’s true that he would want “something” for letting them out of the lease should they want to go.

    But it might not be cost prohibitive to Spanos or (more likely) a new owner. Plenty of water to flow under the bridge before we get to such a point, but I think it’s worth remembering that players sometimes insist on no move contracts not because they want to retire a Yankee/Tiger/Packer/Knick/Mud Hen/Lug Nut, but because it makes a useful bargaining chip should the team need to unload them at some point….

    “Sure, I’ll take a hometown discount for a 7 year contract, but it’s got to be no move…”

    So when the team is desperate to unload the player in year 5, he simply demands the difference between what he signed for with the hometown discount and market value at the time. Or more than that, depending on how desperate the team is to move him.

    I don’t believe the LA move will be a financial disaster for the Chargers (even with the fees and other charges imposed, it looks to me like they can spend to the cap without a single paying fan entering the building and still be guaranteed a $30-40m operating profit), but it might look awful on TV and to other owners.

    Does any of the $65m annually in relocation fees go to Kroenke? Or is it all back to the league? (As I recall Kroenke agreed to split the market as a condition of the move back from St. Louis, so I would expect this is league money… meaning Kroenke should get $2m and change like all the other owners each year).

    Kroenke will not be willing to give up ten guaranteed dates in his stadium – unless he has alternate bookings on which he can make more money than the Chargers games would net him… which is absolutely possible the way it looks now.

    And if the push to move the Chargers out of Inglewood for “appearance” reasons comes from the NFL rather than the team itself, well, I can think of a few bones Kroenke might demand they throw his way… the first being “all” of the LA market for himself.

    I tend to agree with the general tone of the linked article, but the existence of a contract does not mean the Chargers can’t move. It just means some people get paid if they do. Depending on what options are available to either the tenant or landlord, letting the tenant out of the lease at reasonable cost might make perfect sense.

    • I think it’d be quite possible Kroenke would let them out of their lease for free (or at a substantially reduced amount) if they were leaving the area entirely. He wants them locked in so they can’t turn around and build their own stadium in the LA area in the unlikely event that idea ever came back to life. But being the only team in town would undoubtedly benefit the Rams more than whatever amount the Chargers are paying in rent.

      Of all the articles I’ve seen, there really hasn’t been a true deal breaker that would prohibit the Chargers moving. I’ve seen it mentioned all the deals with the new stadium are done with the promise of 20 home games per year but even that isn’t impossible to overcome. The stadium would just need to redo all those deals. Sure, it probably would cost the stadium as an entity some money in reduced value of the deals but if Kroenke was making more overall he wouldn’t care about that.

      • Exactly… and as with any other tenant, if Kroenke has a back up option for the ten dates that will free up that will pay him more than the Chargers do…. suddenly he can rid the market of the pesky second team (probably gaining full control of the LA market in exchange for letting them walk if the league really wants them out) while losing nothing of substance.

        That’s not to say he’d let them break the contract for free, but it might not be the crippling financial blow some writers seem to think.

  6. I remember people downplaying the possibility of the Thrashers leaving Atlanta because all the suite/premium seats/naming rights deals involved having 2 teams in the arena. Kroenke never wanted a co-tenant. It was forced on him by the NFL. I’m sure he would be amenable to letting them leave.

    • The Hawks had other options for filling vacant dates at their arena, though. How many concerts and international soccer friendlies would the Rams actually be able to book on the weekends during football they don’t have home games?

      • They wouldn’t necessarily need to worry about filling dates. The stadium would just need to renegotiate the deals. Sure, it’d be a pain and it’d result in the stadium earning less money but as long as Kroenke was making more overall by the Chargers being gone he wouldn’t care. As long as the overall bottom line looked rosier he’d be happy. Guaranteed he has it structured so the stadium is an individual entity so it backing out of some deals wouldn’t hurt the Rams or himself.

        • How would he earn more money if the Chargers were gone? There’s no local cable revenue in the NFL, and I imagine he expects to sell out Rams home games regardless – do you think he could raise ticket prices if football fans didn’t have the Chargers as an option? Or make it all back on merch sales or something?

          • We are waaaay into rampant speculation territory here, but IF SK was to let the Chargers break their lease (for a substantial but not insurmountable fee… the relocation fee payable over 10 years probably goes away the minute the Chargers go, of course, so they might have some house money to play with on that front. It would be unlike the NFL to offer a refund on relocation rights fees, but…) it would almost certainly be because he believes he can make more money with non-football events at the stadium.

            Having a second tenant means home games every weekend, more or less. This makes having other weekend events that require some form of stadium reconfiguration (concerts, etc) practically impossible during the football season.

            I’m thinking of the Chargers as tenants along the same lines as an NHL team as an anchor tenant in an otherwise empty building. It only works if people in that area want to pay real money to see hockey. If not, the Chargers are just the Coyotes on plastic grass (at least as far as Kroenke is concerned) and aren’t necessarily better from a Kroenke’s revenue perspective than alternate events in the facility would be.

            Long term Spanos may be proven right (if he hangs on to the team long enough) and the LA Chargers 2.0 might build fan support in the market. But early returns suggest no-one is interested and it may take a couple of decades of cheap tickets (and giveaways to schools) to build any kind of fan support.

          • There are no international soccer friendlies that could be played in the US during football season, so that leaves only concerts. There are extremely few performers that play stadiums, and they don’t tour that often, so you’re not going to get a ton of those.

            I imagine Kroenke does have a price point where he’d let the Chargers leave, sure. But that’s not the same as “he’d be just as happy without them.”

          • Looking at the proposed price points for Chargers tickets he probably doesn’t want casual or currently unaffiliated fans picking up Charger tickets. He probably figures he can charge more for Rams tickets if the Chargers aren’t in town.
            I remember Peter King writing that Spanos had porposed going in on a stadium at Hollywood Park together and Kroenke blew off the idea after which he went and bought the land himself. So clearly Kroenke had the idea of having LA to himself in his head.

          • Not wanting to go halfsies on a stadium with Spanos and not wanting to be his landlord are two very different things.

          • Advertising deals and sponsorships would undoubtedly increase the minute they became the only NFL team in town. And merchandise and ticket sales would also theoretically go up. It’s not terribly likely the new stadium will sell out every single game so any amount of former Charger fans who went to a Rams game would be an increase.

            Why do you suppose Kroenke never wanted
            a tenant in the first place if there were no value at all to being the only team?

          • “Not wanting to go halfsies on a stadium with Spanos and not wanting to be his landlord are two very different things.”
            ____________

            Different but neither is desirable if you don’t HAVE to do it. It’s been well documented his plan is to make most of his money off development in that area because he owns basically everything around there. The stadium is tool towards that goal, not a main profit center–he never was looking for a tenant and had the Chargers basically forced upon him. Being a landlord stinks. It gets in the way of branding, they’ll be forced to change out stuff at the stadium for the Chargers when they wouldn’t have to otherwise, they’ll have to contend with cheap Chargers tickets driving down their own prices, sponsorships will tend to be worth less because advertisers can play the Rams and Chargers off each other, the list goes on and on.

          • I think what we have here potentially is a clash of team interests versus league interests.

            At the team level (leaving aside the absurd situation of the Chargers), I think it is quite likely that Kroenke would be better off alone–more attention, less competition, more flexibility.

            At the NFL level, there was clearly a lot of apprehension at the owner level about the NFL having its bluffed called and being a dud in LA (hence Jerry Jones’s insistence on “big balls” or whatever the crude phrase was). Having a second team means more noise, more coverage, and more/every week focus on NFL product in a huge media market that seemed quite content to pick and choose what games to watch without having a team foisted upon them. In a sense, the NFL seemed to think it can counter potentially weak demand by more coverage/ advertising (itself provided by the presence of the other team). The relocation fees, cost shares, etc. were essentially just moving money between divisions, not an essential driving aspect of league strategic decisionmaking.

            The fact that one of the teams has been an absolute dud (for now) suggests that the NFL ownership may have been flawed in its reasoning, but weekly articles about how many more fans of the Edmonton Eskimos than Chargers fans came to the last Chargers game is “media” of the “no coverage is bad coverage” kind.

  7. In other news, Suns CEO: We’re doing the best we can with old downtown Phoenix arena

    Talking Stick Resort Arena is the fifth-oldest NBA venue, and some have recently gone through multimillion-dollar renovations.

    There have been conversations and rumors about a mass renovation to Talking Stick Resort Arena or the Suns building another arena elsewhere in the Valley, but so far no actual plans have been made public.

    The downtown arena is owned by the city of Phoenix. Earlier this year conservative watchdog group, the Goldwater Institute, sued the city over keeping documents about a possible $450 million renovation from the public.

    https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2018/10/21/suns-ceo-we-re-doing-the-best-we-can-with-old.html