Friday roundup: SF doesn’t want Raiders, Spurs hate Tottenham, Rays outfielder says team has “no fan base” and should maybe move

It was a bit of a slow holiday week, but the news that there was made up for it by being extra-entertaining:

  • The Oakland Raiders played maybe their last game in Oakland, at least until the next time they move back to Oakland. (Hey, it’s happened before.) Still nobody has a clue where the team will play next year, but San Francisco officials are already gearing up to block any Raiders games at the Giants‘ AT&T Park, saying they don’t want to be “scabs” in the city of Oakland’s lawsuit against the Raiders for skipping town that prompted this game of stadium chicken in the first place. This is looking like a better and better option.
  • The New Jersey state legislature is preparing to help out the horse racing industry by providing $100 million over the next five years to goose winnings, which seems like exactly the opposite of how gambling is supposed to work.
  • Tottenham Hotspur still can’t get its new stadium open — the earliest possible date is now in February — but that’s not stopping team officials from griping that the surrounding neighborhood is too dirty to go alongside its fancy new stadium thanks to “litter and fly-tipping.” According to one borough memo, “When the question of all the extra cleaning needed was raised and who would fund it it was made very clear that it would not be paid for by Spurs.” The estimated cost of added street cleaning would be £8,000 per match; the team’s most recent annual profit was £58 million.
  • I love interactive fiction and have even written some myself, so I’m inclined to like this Arizona Republic article presenting the Suns arena showdown as a Choose Your Own Adventure book. But sadly its plot relies on some misconceptions — allowing the Suns owners to break their lease in 2022 doesn’t necessarily mean the team will leave, and if they do leave the city’s estimates of $130-180 million in renovations to keep it “competitive” for concerts may be overblown — so I won’t be voting for it for a XYZZY Award.
  • Some details have been released about plans for a Portland baseball stadium, but none of them involve how the stadium would be paid for or how much rent it would pay to its public landlords or even where a team would be obtained, so feel free to skip reading the full documents unless you’re really interested.
  • Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Tommy Pham was asked what he thought about playing in his new home city after being traded last year from St. Louis, and replied, “It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all.” Pham added, “Do I think something has to happen, whether it be a new ballpark, maybe a new city? I think so.” I am going out on a limb to guess that attendance will probably not be great next year on Tommy Pham Bobblehead Night.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks arena has been open for “several months” now, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which apparently can’t count to four, and the most important takeaways are that: 1) kids like candy, 2) grownups like cheese-covered sausages, 3) everybody likes taking selfies, 4) Bucks president Peter Feigin also likes candy, and 5) nobody actually wants to sit in that ridiculous Panorama Club. No reports back yet on the status of the magic basketball.

19 comments on “Friday roundup: SF doesn’t want Raiders, Spurs hate Tottenham, Rays outfielder says team has “no fan base” and should maybe move

  1. The AZ Republic interactive fiction story doesn’t even include the possibility that the Suns will decide to stay in Phoenix and pay for their own upgrades. Does the writer really think that Seattle is going to hand over their newly-remodeled arena for free?

    Another observation: the writer thinks the Suns manage the arena “for free.” This is the level of economic illiteracy that most journalists bring to stories such as these.

  2. Saw someone else say something to this effect the other day, but it’s interesting that the Rays players seem way more open and blunt (or maybe honest?) about the team’s attendance issues than players on other teams that draw consistently poor crowds.

    Usually, players on those teams choose their words more carefully and play a more diplomatic game when it comes to that subject – e.g. “we appreciate the fans that do come” and “hopefully more fans will come out to see us” – but dudes like Pham (and Price, Longoria, and Archer before him) seem to prefer a more direct approach, even if it pisses off the fans that they do have.

    Whether that’s down to the personalities of that set of players, mounting frustration at seeing tiny crowds night in night out, or simply something in the water in Tampa Bay is a whole different debate, but I couldn’t help but notice that as well.

    • Forgot to add, I’m sure the team owner doesn’t mind seeing these quotes come from the players; he’s smart enough to know that they sting a lot less among the locals when they coming out the players’ mouths than when they the owner with his billions in assets is heard complaining about it publicly…

    • Tommy Pham is not really about phrasing things diplomatically, which is arguably the main reason he was sent to Tampa Bay:

      https://www.101espn.com/2018/04/03/tommy-pham-did-some-serious-cardinals-venting-to-si-here-are-some-highlights/

      • Ah, thanks, that explains a lot… it seemed weird that a team that wasn’t out of contention shipped out one of their starters… while simultaneously adding other pieces.

        The other option I was considering was that the Cardinals had secretly been bought by the Dolan family…

  3. If anyone else is curious as to what fly-tipping is, no it’s not the insect equivalent of cow-tipping, apparently it is dumping waste illegally.

  4. Who the hell wrote the piece on the Bucks arena? It couldn’t be a bona fide sports writer or business writer. Must have been composed by a Bucks pr shill.

  5. I know the Rays have a decent TV contract with Fox and still have a long-term lease at “The Trop” but I wonder if the land is more valuable for St Pete to use for another purpose then a baseball stadium? Especially for a team that does not draw flies, and only has better attendance then the Marlins because they share a Division with the Yankees and Red Sox Maybe if it is, the solution between now and the end of the lease cwill involve selling and moving the Rays to a different location?

  6. Can’t they play next year in a partially built Las Vegas stadium? Haul in some turf, set up some goal posts, line the field, bring in the TV cameras, and play ball! Charge general admission. let the fans find perches to watch the game or bring their own lawn chairs. Good old American can do spirit.

    • Good Old US liability laws might play a role in that, unfortunately. As in “First guy to trip on a stairwell without handrails wins $25,000,000”

      Of course, none of that would be an issue if they played 4-5 games at Sam Boyd later in the season… but we are told there’s just no way that “can” happen.

      • Steve: They don’t have to.

        Start season with 2 games on the road, then a neutral site game (London/Mexico etc) as the home team, then another road trip, scheduled bye week, then another neutral site game… and you are into November – when you absolutely can play night games in the desert (especially with 8pm local kickoffs).

        Let’s not forget that the Cardinals played, what, 15 yrs of home games at Tempe?

        It’s not ideal. But when you don’t have a stadium to play in, ideal is probably not in your future.

        • I always wondered why the Raider’s didn’t just transfer to UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas even with the reduced capacity (the Chargers got a waiver for this so there isn’t any reason Oakland couldn’t of received the same).

          It would have made a lot more sense than trying to stick around in Oakland after they announced that they were leaving.

          • They will lose tens of millions of dollars playing next year anywhere other than the Coliseum. Oakland has still sold out every game (at least at the 54,000 seat capacity) even during the last two years after the move was announced and approved. Playing in a venue with 20,000 fewer seats (Sam Boyd or AT&T or Reno) X 10 games X $100/ticket = $20 million lost. They might not lose quite as much at Levi’s, but they’d have to re-seat all the current season ticketholders that want to re-up so I doubt they come close to filling that place, and I doubt the 49ers would take it at all easy on them rent-wise.

            They’ll wait for some white knight to come along (hey, it worked for the new stadium in Vegas), this time it won’t, and they’ll come crawling back to Oakland.

  7. Re: Tottenham…I’m not clear on why they are threatening the council. What is the club going to do…move?

    • It’s hard to know…. I suspect it’s just a “if we draw attention to the concern and make it sound like someone else’s problem, they might agree to pay to fix it” kind of thing.

      You know, like most stadium stories are on this side of the Atlantic. In a sane world, a sports team which has outgrown it’s place of business would do what all other businesses do… build a better factory incorporating only those improvements which can generate enough additional revenue to justify their cost.