Friday roundup: Terrible concerts, new Yankees garage costs, and why Phoenix’s ex-mayor is glad he didn’t build a Cardinals stadium

Welcome to the first-ever weekly stadium news roundup to kick off with a review of a terrible Ed Sheeran concert:

  • The Minnesota Vikings‘ $1 billion stadium still sounds like crap for concerts, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune in its review of an Ed Sheeran show last Saturday: “Anytime Sheeran slapped out a beatnik-funky drum beat on his guitar and put it on repeat, such as ‘New Man’ or the pre-encore finale ‘Sing,’ it sounded hopelessly mucky and un-funky, sort of like a kitchen-sink garbage disposal trying to clear out gallons of half-dried concrete.” Time for Zygi Wilf to demand a new one yet? Only 28 years to go on their lease!
  • Speaking of concerts, CBC News has a chart of top touring acts that have skipped Saskatoon while playing in other cities in recent years — ostensibly because Saskatoon’s arena is too old (30 years! even older than Ed Sheeran!) and too far out of the center of town and has too antiquated a rigging system — but mostly it’s a reminder of how many arena acts are on their last legs: Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand and Black Sabbath all played other Canadian cities but not Saskatoon? How will the city ever prepare for the future! (Also, Saskatoon’s bigger problem might just be that it’s Canada’s 19th-largest city — I bet Paul and Barbra didn’t play Lubbock, Texas, either, which is about the same population.)
  • The Miami Dolphins stadium’s revenues were up 39.7% last year, and expenses were only up 31%, so guess owner Stephen Ross’s $350 million renovation is paying off (though a large chunk of that was actually paid for by Miami-Dade County and by the NFL). It makes it all the more puzzling why the county handed over additional subsidies last summer that could be worth as much as $57.5 million, but actually, since the stadium renovations were already done and paid for by then, it would be puzzling even if Ross were losing money on the thing. Florida, man.
  • Here’s a fun Guardian article on what makes a good soccer stadium. Not sure there’s one takeaway other than “Design them to be good places to watch the match with seats close to the action, and try to make them fit into their immediate surroundings,” but that’s more than most U.S. stadium designers do, anyway.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores still want an MLS expansion team in Detroit, and while they’ve determined that removing the Lions stadium’s fixed roof and building a retractable one like MLS asked would be prohibitively expensive, they have offered to spend $95 million on a training field and other soccer fields throughout the city, though Crain’s Detroit notes that it’s “unclear” if that spending “would use any public funding.” If it would, this will be an interesting test in how badly MLS wants its teams to play in soccer-friendly outdoor stadiums, and how much it just wants new owners who’ve shown they can extract cash from their local municipalities.
  • Hey, check it out, it’s an NPR report on how Worcester, Massachusetts has been undergoing a boom in development and influx of new residents thanks to its cheap rents compared to nearby Boston, to the point where some locals are worried that they’ll be priced out. Is it too late for Worcester to take back that $100 million it’s spending on a Red Sox Triple-A stadium that was supposed to be needed to put the city on the map?
  • Who says that new stadiums don’t transform the areas around them? Why, the SkinnyFats restaurant near the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium just added a new craft beer tap room! That’s gotta be worth $750 million.
  • The deal for the new New York Yankees stadium included new parking lots that were mostly to be paid for by a nonprofit shell corporation that was to own them and collect parking revenues, but now that it turns out nobody wants to pay $45 to park for Yankees games when there are plenty of cheaper parking options plus multiple subway and commuter rail lines nearby, the company is $100 million in default on rent and taxes to the city, with no real hopes of ever paying it back. I should probably add this to the “city costs” section of my Yankee Stadium subsidy spreadsheet, but I don’t have time this morning, so just mentally note that city taxpayers have now put up almost $800 million toward a stadium that was sold as involving “no public subsidies,” with state and federal subsidies putting the total taxpayer bill at nearly $1.3 billion.
  • Former Phoenix mayor Skip Rimsza says one of his proudest accomplishments is not building a downtown stadium for the Arizona Cardinals, since instead the city got to use the land to build a biomedical campus that provides way more jobs and economic activity than a football stadium. Opportunity cost in action! I’d love to write an article on all the things that cities didn’t get to build because they focused on erecting new sports facilities, but sadly my Einstein-Rosen Bridge portal is on the fritz.
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20 comments on “Friday roundup: Terrible concerts, new Yankees garage costs, and why Phoenix’s ex-mayor is glad he didn’t build a Cardinals stadium

  1. New Metrodome really is the worst. Narrow concourses, echo-y acoustics, and no real tailgate scene to speak of.

  2. What was conveniently left out of the Phoenix article, was the original site proposal was not stopped by the mayor, but was stopped by the FAA due to stadium height and flight-path concerns.

    The City of Glendale was an alternate site but they have had their share of run-ins with the current owner over lack of parking and have spent additional taxpayer millions in providing such.

  3. From the Guardian article:

    “But really what we developed was the idea of trying to distil an air of permanence and longevity. It was all about creating with materials that would last as long as Highbury and get better over time. We invested a lot of time and a lot of money in creating a building which was going to be there for the next hundred years.”

    Meanwhile the bulk of new sports facilities in the U.S. seem to be built with the notion that they will be obsolate within 20 years. It’s easy for an owner to spend lots of money if the money is coming from the pockets of others.

  4. Saskatoon, eh? That means Sheboygan, Wisconsin can’t be far behind in demanding a new arena. Gotta find an up to date venue for all those new polka bands out there.

  5. It looks like Sir Paul played Lubbock in October of 2014. I don’t follow him closely enough to know if he’s done another tour since then, though I do know he played the Austin City Limits festival earlier this month.

  6. There is plenty true in that Worcester article. There are some very nice restaurants and breweries. There are some nice, newly renovated buildings to live in. It has nice colleges. And in the generally bipartisan urban thoughtlessness of these times…the health of a city is determined by how much fun a single person has with his or her disposable income. There’s still plenty of undeveloped pockets to go around, and many poor for whom getting to Boston in an hour isn’t going to happen.

    I don’t know…a previously unfashionable city sees a glut of easy money. People buying houses speculatively with cash, pricing locals out, and media articles quoting real estate people who always say that the market is only 1/3 of where it is going (what do they do when it is 5/6?)…I feel like we have seen this in the last 10 years.

    1. I always love the idea that how great a city is, is measured by how much fun a 28 year old yuppie without a GF or kids has there.

      Oh it has 45 bars in a row? How many of them are good?

  7. Sounds like the guys in Detroit are offering what pretty much every team in MLS ends up doing privately to be competitive and develop future players. Since these guys are NBA guys and cities love paying for their practice facilities Detroit might be paying the bill.

  8. As for Ross in Miami, his plans to move the La Liga season to Miami took another hit today. But Relavent sports has other soccer events up their sleeve so that 57 million is still within reach. As for Florida as long as your primary business isn’t soccer, there are plenty of subsides to be had. That includes the Marlins now that Loria isn’t the owner.

  9. The Saskatoon article is hilarious. The term ‘factmanufacturing’ seems appropriate.

    They ‘almost’ didn’t get Garth Brooks, eh? Well, they did. And he ended up adding additional shows just to accommodate the ticket demand (it was a few years ago, but I seem to recall this brought the total up to seven or eight shows over their stay). Also, Brooks didn’t stop in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver in 2016… so obviously they need to upgrade their arenas long before Saskatoon does.

    Shania Twain also added shows to meet demand for tickets.

    And lest anyone think it’s all about the hillbillies in that part of Western Canada, Metallica just set the highest ever attendance at this very arena a month or so ago… something the writer of that manufactured consent piece appears to have missed entirely.

    I find Jeff Dunham’s comedy pretty lame, but he sold out a series of concerts at this building a few years ago (again, adding dates to meet demand)… does he not count as a big act anymore?

    Black Sabbath, GNR (whatever is left), Billy Joel, Springsteen, Adele, McCartney, Kanye and Coldplay didn’t stop in a small prairie city of roughly 220,000? Shocking. You could build ten new arenas and not change that.

    If big touring acts have a ‘midweek’ day or two to fill they (at one time) added one small flyover stop to their tours. However, increasingly the complexity of their stage setups require complete ‘second units’ to permit this kind of thing… and that gets expensive in a hurry.

    If you are the Stones, you might add a stop you know will be a money loser because a) you have more money than God and b) it’s mostly the promoter that’s going to be stuck trying to break even.

    Very few of ‘todays’ acts would consider doing that, so it is rare when small cities get truly major acts. It does happen, but it tends to be a one off every few years.

  10. This American wonders why they can’t just play professional soccer in football stadiums? A football field is about the same size, so just swap out the goalposts with soccer nets. Win win.

    1. The serious answer: While football fields are a good bit narrower than soccer pitches, they do play plenty of soccer in football stadiums. (Atlanta, Seattle, and New England all play their home games in NFL stadiums.) It’s more that MLS-sized crowds tend to get lost in football-sized stadiums, so the league would prefer stadiums of no more than 20-25,000 seats.

      1. There are also lost revenue streams and the all sponsorships control given by local government to the football team that prevents that from happening. Seattle, Atlanta and New England are only able to do that because cross ownership. Also those stadiums we’re built with soccer in mind prior to construction.

        1. There are plenty of stadia that meet requirements. Lincoln Financial Field has hosted US internationals and the big European clubs in the ICC. The fact that Chester built a smaller, money losing, stadium with revenues going to the team is a blessing of unclear scale. I’d sure love to see the books on how much revenue goes to the team from a venue that barely hosts anything. Is it better than paying rent at the Linc? How do we know?

          Gillette Stadium is in a terrible location but does just fine for soccer when the crowd is restricted to the lower deck. Too much journalism takes sports team management at face value and never really gets into real math.

      2. Aren’t most modern NFL and CFL football stadiums built to support a full width associated football pitch size? Or at least all the ones built after 1995 or so since the selling point to the city is that they could use the stadium to host World Cup games. Though why that would be a benefit I have no idea.

        1. As I recall, the min regulation pitch is still 68 yds wide. In practice, almost no professional club uses a pitch narrower than 73-75 yds. Adding in a few yards for touchline needs (linesmen, throw ins etc), the actual distance between the opposing stands needs to be 83-85 yds minimum.

          There certainly are some new NFL/CFL facilities that were designed with this configuration in mind, but not all.

          While regulation pitches can be as small as 100yd x 68yd (or as large as 110 x 80yd – again, going from memory… this may have changed in the last 30 years…) having top flight professional players on a small pitch like that tends to make for very poor games. It is a lot easier to defend against elite opponents if they have 1200-1500 sq yds less to work with.

          For semi pro or weekend warrior matches, a smaller pitch works just fine (generally speaking, the lower the quality of play the better a smaller surface suits).

          As others have noted, though, MLS insists on “SSS” chiefly because they want their owner/operator to get all the revenue from the facility. And as has often been pointed out, MLS seems fine with purpose built soccer stadia being used for four down football on a regular basis… just so long as the MLS club owner gets to keep the revenue…

          But hey, Garber just went into the Soccer Hall of fame this week, so who are we to mock?

          1. In Toronto there has been huge issues since ownership brought in the CFL team. It works a little better with field turf, however some soccer fans and players hate it. Although it still has issues and needs repair or replacement more regularly. Most MLS don’t want gridiron played on field but some deals include state championship games or state college team sharing written into agreements. The weather hasn’t gotten nasty yet and you can already see the damage to NFL fields throughout the league.

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