Friday roundup: Neo-Expos seek public land for stadium, Hawaii mulls new stadium to host nothing, D-Backs spend bupkis fixing supposedly crumbling stadium

So very, very much news:

  • Would-be Montreal Expos reviver Stephen Bronfman has reportedly settled on federally owned land in Peel Basin near downtown as a prospective stadium site once a franchise is obtained, through expansion or relocation. Mayor Valérie Plante called the idea “interesting”; other than that, there’s been no word of what Bronfman would pay for the land or how the stadium would be paid for or really anything involving money, so sure, “interesting” is a fine evaluation of this news.
  • Charles Allen, the D.C. councilmember whose district includes RFK Stadium, calls the site “a very wrong choice for an NFL stadium,” and instead would like to see housing and parks there. Mayor Muriel Bowser disagrees, so this is going to come down to a good old council fight. Too bad Marion Barry isn’t around anymore to make things interesting.
  • Hawaii is considering spending $350 million in public money on a new football stadium to replace Aloha Stadium because, according to state senator Glenn Wakai, “It’s kind of like driving a Datsun pickup truck that is just being run into the ground. At a certain point, time to get a new pickup truck.” Given that Aloha Stadium currently hosts nothing much at all other than University of Hawaii football, it’s more like spending $350 million to replace your pickup truck that just sits in the driveway with a new pickup truck, but far be it from me to interfere with Sen. Wakai’s attempts to bash Datsun for some reason.
  • Halifax is still considering whether to spend $120-140 million on a stadium for an expansion CFL team, maybe via the magic of tax increment financing; University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe points out that a TIF isn’t magic but just “makes the subsidy less transparent, less obvious that it indeed even is a subsidy” — but then, pulling the wool over the public’s eyes is a kind of magic, no?
  • The Oakland Raiders have a “very real” chance of playing 2019 at the Oakland Coliseum, according to … this Bleacher Report headline, but nothing in the actual story? What the hell, Bleacher Report?
  • Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick has claimed that the team’s stadium would need $8 million in upgrades over the winter, but has only spent $150,000. Which isn’t totally a gotcha — team execs say they’re conserving the stadium maintenance fund to spend on future repairs — but it does poke a bit of a hole in their argument that the stadium is in such bad shape that MLB could order the Diamondbacks to leave Arizona.
  • Austin residents will get to vote in November on whether the city can give public land to a pro sports team owner without a public vote, but it’ll probably be too late to affect the deal to do that for Austin F.C. owner Anthony Precourt. It’ll come in handy next time Austin is in the market for a pro sports team, I guess, though then the owner will probably just figure out a different way to ask for subsidies. “Better late than never” doesn’t work that well when it comes to democracy.
  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s “not sure that there’s much space for public consultation” on a redevelopment project to include a Flames arena, though he added that “it would be very interesting to hear from the public on what they think the right amount of public participation in this should be, and certainly there will be an opportunity for the public to have their voices heard but it might not happen until there’s something on the table.” It’s hard to tell whether that’s a justification or an apology — and keep in mind that Nenshi was deliberately shut out of the committee negotiating any deal — but there you are.
  • MLS commissioner Don Garber just got a five-year extension, and — quelle coincidence! — the league is now talking about expanding to 32 teams by 2026. Whether this is really a Ponzi-esque attempt to paper over weak financials with a constant influx of expansion fees won’t be entirely clear until the expansion finally stops and we see how the money looks then, but one thing is increasingly clear: It’s kind of crazy to throw stadium money around in hopes of landing an MLS franchise when it’s increasingly clear every reasonably large city in the U.S. is going to get one sooner or later.
  • And finally, Amazon pulled out of its $3 billion tax break deal with New York yesterday, and it sounds like it’s because its execs were tired of taking a PR beating around the company’s anti-union stance and contracting for ICE. Some New Yorkers are celebrating victory, others are retreating into the Casino Night Fallacy, and as always, The Onion has the final word.

16 comments on “Friday roundup: Neo-Expos seek public land for stadium, Hawaii mulls new stadium to host nothing, D-Backs spend bupkis fixing supposedly crumbling stadium

  1. Its weird to see somebody reference Datsun outside of talking about old episodes of Lets Make a Deal…..maybe you should of maintained your Datsun better Hawaii.

    • I guessed that it was an attempt to appear hip and in touch with all these import driving young people today…

  2. You want Bleacher Report to be more than clickbait? Maybe provide articles with the latest (or at least accurate) information?

    That’s asking too much.

  3. Well, it didn’t take long to put the lie to the “Bronfman will pay for everything, 100% privately financed” garbage, did it?

    I assume this means the land for the commercial developments will be ‘free’ too?

  4. If a pipe breaks in your house, you call a plumber to fix it. If a pipe breaks in a taxpayer funded stadium, it’s time to build a whole new stadium.

  5. U of H should build a medium size, low amenity, college stadium on campus and stick the students with the cost, like we do on the main land.

  6. Just a clarification on one part… Mayor Nenshi can’t be shut out of a committee, per City of Calgary rules the mayor automatically sits on all committees. His involvement (or lack thereof) is at his discretion.

  7. For the latest in keeping your stadium up to date, an (apparently mythical “VIP Cheese Room”). Keep it up, Tottenham Hotspur!

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/feb/11/tottenham-new-stadium-no-cheese-room-spurs

  8. In DC, Charles Allen’s Ward 6 explicitly does NOT include RFK stadium site, DC General or Reservation 13. All those sites are in Ward 7, represented by former mayor Gray. Ward 6 however surrounds the site and everyone who lives near the RFK site is in Ward 6, with the exception of a few blocks I’m the Kingman Park area between Oklahoma NE, Benning NE and 20th St NE (which happens to be the furthest area where people live from the RFK site but still adjacent to the site).

    When they redid the wards in 2010 they took the small stub that was created in 2000 redistristicting plan to balance out he population and metastasized it to cover the entire area the city wanted to redeveloped even though they change added exactly zero people to Ward 7. There was never a good explination on why that was necessary, but my guess is there was some shenanigans involved since most all of Ward 7 is across the Anacostia and what happens at RFK would likely not effect them the way Ward 7 would, so they’d be less likely to vote out the local council rep or ANC person out over it if they signed off on any change.

  9. A new stadium for Hawaii would be particularly comical given the horrific nature of the rest of their facilities. Back in the day when June Jones had them winning his office was in a leaky trailer with worn out carpet and broken office chairs. And things aren’t a whole lot better today.

  10. A parable: A man walks into a bar, and orders a drink. “That’ll be ten dollars,” says the bartender. The man hands over nine one-dollar bills.
    “Hey buddy,” says the bartender. “You’re a dollar short.”

    “Look at the clock. It’s happy hour. Drinks are 9 dollars. At regular prices, I would never come in here, and you wouldn’t have any of my money at all,” says the man. “It’s a time tested business practice to increase demand. So by giving me a dollar and getting my nine dollars, you’re getting virtually cost free revenue from me!”

    • Try that trick at a time that isn’t happy hour, and see how far it gets you.

      Happy hour — and store coupons, and Black Friday sales, and any other consumer discount policies — aren’t investments in order to get “any more at all,” they’re *promotions*. They can be loss leaders, or they can be ways to try to rope in additional customers who otherwise might not buy anything at all. But saying “getting anything for a drink is better than nothing” ignores the costs of providing a drink (materials, labor, rent, other overhead), just as collecting taxes on a development ignores the costs involved (police and fire and school and transit services, opportunity cost of using land, risk that other companies then demand similar subsidies, etc.).

      Tax revenues are not “free money”; they’re payment toward the services provided to make a city a place where people can live and worth. If Amazon wants to try to use its 800-pound-gorilla status to demand special treatment, it can; but pretending that getting rebated 10% of its taxes is some kind of favor to the people of New York is all kinds of nonsense.

      • Well, there are fixed costs and variable costs. I think the small incremental costs of a happy hour drink, a bargain ticket for a movie matinee, or a cheap seat in the upper deck of a stadium are still profitable at reduced prices when they help spread out fixed costs, thus not loss leaders. Likewise, New York apparently calculated Amazon would still be a net plus even allowing for the tax discounts.
        I, too, am wary of millionaire/billionaire demands for government handouts.(That’s why I frequent this site). But, Amazon just set out some broad parameters and then let communities bombard them with lucrative offers served up on silver platters. They picked New York and Virginia as winners(losers?) and now they’re the villain? I hate to be politically incorrect, but back in the day we would’ve called NY an indian giver.

        • New York didn’t take back anything it had offered — rather, the governor and mayor offered tax breaks, then other legislators started questioning if it was worth it, and Amazon pulled out.

          This isn’t a question of whether Amazon (or sports team owners) who play cities off against each other for the biggest subsidies are villains or just savvy businesspeople. (That’s a worthwhile question, but not the one being raised here.) It’s about whether the price NY was paying was worth more than what it would have been getting, which turned out to be more contentious than the people who arranged the deal had expected. I can respect arguments both pro and con, but “this is a 900% profit because we’d be collecting $9 in taxes for every $1 we kicked back,” as Gov. Cuomo insisted, is not something anyone should take seriously.

  11. Looks like Calgary residents can comment, after all.

    Coun. Jeromy Farkas asking residents to weigh in on new arena

    https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/coun-jeromy-farkas-asking-residents-to-weigh-in-on-new-arena