Friday roundup: Calgary residents demand say on Flames arena, Indy Eleven asked to only accept public funding of 80% of stadium, Raiders could re-up in Oakland this week

Happy Friday! Here is your weekly fact dump of news that I didn’t get to earlier in the week, because I only got two hands, man:

  • Calgary residents who went to speak their minds at yesterday’s town hall on a new Flames arena say they want to be able to speak their minds on a new Flames arena. The city council is set to vote on an arena term sheet on Monday without public input — or even revealing to the public first what’s in the term sheet — though I suppose some councillors might read the press coverage of the town hall and learn how angry the public is. It’s worked before in Phoenix, for a few weeks at least!
  • The Indy Eleven stadium subsidy proposal has made it into a state senate bill, but “with some hefty strings attached,” reports the Indianapolis Star: the team’s owner would need to put up $30 million of his own money before getting to access $200 million in public tax money (more like $112 million in present value) for stadium costs. This does not actually sound like a big ask, but hey, Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel says it’s worth any price to keep the city’s sports teams (even if they’re not threatening to move) because, and I quote, “my job could depend on it,” so why quibble over a mere $112 million, right?
  • The city of Anaheim has hired a real estate consultant to conduct an appraisal of the value of the Los Angeles Angels‘ stadium site, as it first authorized last month, which is slightly weird in that they just did an appraisal in 2014 that found that the stadium parking lots sought by team owner Arte Moreno for $1 were worth $245 million, but whatever. It’s at least good that the city is apparently committing to ask something based on actual market value for the land, especially coupled with talk of basing any land deal on the Anaheim Ducks deal, which was a decently fair price for development rights to city land. Maybe this will not be awful, despite the new mayor talking about how eager he is to cut a deal even though Angels owner Arte Moreno has no real leverage? I’m almost afraid to hope — we’ll just have to see what happens when the assessment comes in, presumably a couple of months from now.
  • Oakland officials could vote soon to approve a new lease for the Raiders for 2019, with an additional option for 2020, which would put an end to talk of the team playing everywhere else on the planet this fall. Apparently Raiders owner Mark Davis is willing to let bygones be bygones and overlook that antitrust lawsuit the city filed that led him to insist he wouldn’t play in Oakland this season. Good successful bluff-calling, Oakland officials!
  • The New York Mets will not be moving their spring training home out of Port St. Lucie, after threatening to in order to secure a revised deal for $57 million in renovations to their stadium, $55 million of which will come from taxpayers. Bad bluff-calling, Port St. Lucie officials!
  • A rival developer is seeking the same land in Montreal that would-be Expos revivers want for a baseball stadium, to use for a “new smart development of office towers, housing, hotels and public space.” Looks like a fight is in the offing, and these guys have “smart” right there in the name, so watch out!
  • Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is hoping to save some money when the New York Islanders move out for their own arena eventually — the arena is losing about $12 million on guaranteed revenue payments to the team, and without hockey will be able to book more concerts — but more interesting to me from this article is that the building lost $21 million on operations in the 2017-18 season, plus another $33 million in debt and other expenses. Maybe the Nets owners are soaking up any profits, or the arena’s builders are earning their money on all the high-priced housing that went up next door, but still the whole project seems a bit like a waste of everyone’s time and money and eminent domain takings.
  • Also, work on the Islanders’ new planned arena by Belmont Park won’t begin this spring as planned, because the environmental impact statement required for the project won’t be ready until June at the earliest, but “state officials insist the project remains on schedule.” Hmmm.
  • And finally, your regularly scheduled Tottenham Hotspur stadium updates: It won’t be open until April at the earliest, it won’t have a VIP cheese room, and team officials are catching wild foxes and shooting them in the head with pistols. Exactly one of those things was something I expected to type this week.

36 comments on “Friday roundup: Calgary residents demand say on Flames arena, Indy Eleven asked to only accept public funding of 80% of stadium, Raiders could re-up in Oakland this week

  1. A couple thoughts on that Anaheim article.

    1) I think most real estate experts would consider a 2014 appraisal outdated. So ordering another one isn’t that crazy to me.

    2) $100k for an appraisal seems like an outrageous amount to me. I’ve never ordered an appraisal in california, but in the midwest, appraisal companies would charge $15k tops for a similar report. And if we hired the same appraiser it would typically be cheaper as most of the preliminary research is already complete.

    3) if the next appraisal value comes in lower than the 2014 value, I will be highly skeptical.

  2. The 2020 season option for the Raiders in Oakland is the only smart thing Davis has done in this process.

    Comparing the progress of the construction sites, Inglewood is so much further along than LV.

    • True but Inglewood has a lot more bells & whistles on their stadium that need to be completed whereas LV is a little more basic so I think they can get it done in time for 2020 but we’ll see.

    • https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/nfl-isn-t-responding-to-records-requests-st-louis-attorneys/article_fdbcad6f-ab75-53f1-9b29-a855442c3bcd.html

      Meanwhile, with the St. Louis lawsuit ramping up, Mike Brown of the Bengals apparently can’t recall voting for the Rams move.

  3. I think when officials talk about being on schedule for the Islanders arena despite getting a later start in the summer as opposed to April is them merely saying that it will be ready for when the puck drops in October of the 2021-2022 season. It’s pretty doable. Milwaukee broke ground on their arena in June and had it ready a couple months before the season started and Sacramento didn’t start until October of 2014 yet had their arena ready by October of 2016.

    • Except that they previously said they would need to start this spring in order to be ready by October 2021, so, um, yeah.

      • But you know how that works. Typical bargaining. They say publically that they need to be ready to go in April knowing full well that a June start date is good enough. If they say June is good enough then things go south a bit at the negotiating table and they wind up with a September start date, they risk not getting the arena done on time.

        • I would say the only reasonable conclusion here is “all deadlines are a load of crap.”

          I will not be surprised if this thing is done for the 2021 season, and will also not be surprised if it’s not done until early 2022, late 2022, or never.

  4. Regarding Barclays – for whatever its worth the rumors in Cleveland banking circles when I was in those circles (remember Forest City and the Ratners who put that whole thing together were Cleveland based) was that it was that giving Brooklyn a sports team made getting approvals for everything else easier. I had heard this 3rd hand, supposedly Bruce Ratner was answering a question in a round table with a bunch of Cleveland finance people (I wasn’t high up enough to get invited to things like this) about whether or not they were going to resign Kenyon Martin or pay for big free agents. Again its 3rd hand and I wasn’t there so take it with a grain of salt.

    • I believe it. Marty Markowitz was the borough president at the time. Maybe he still is, I don’t know, but he really wanted Brooklyn to have a team since Queens had the Mets, Bronx had the Yankees & Manhattan had the Rangers & Knicks. By promising to bring the Nets to Brooklyn, Ratner was able to get the wheels greased during the approval process from Markowitz.

    • Oh, buying the Nets was absolutely a loss leader for the development — that’s why Ratner dumped the team as soon as Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was approved. But given that the arena itself looks like a major albatross now, and he could have avoided lots of agita by dumping the arena (and the need for eminent domain) halfway through and just going with the housing that everyone was happy with, you have to wonder why he didn’t do that.

      The most charitable explanation is that Ratner bought the Nets to get then-borough president Marty Markowitz to lobby for him to get rights to the railyards land, and then it was too late for him to back out of the whole arena thing even when it was clear it was a bad idea. Which isn’t very charitable at all, actually, and is also a sad statement on how urban planning gets done these days.

      • My guess is scrapping the arena part way though the development would have made it harder for Forest City to do deals in the future. There would have been a whole lot of “Can’t trust Forest City look what they did to Brooklyn”

        • Probably not – there was a point where half the city, including Rosie Perez and Steve Buscemi, was opposed to the deal because of the arena and the eminent domain, but fine with the housing. If Ratner had offered at that point to ditch the arena while keeping everything else, he would have been hailed as a hero by everyone except Marty Mark.

          • Yeah but Forest City had stuff in major markets all over the country and as you know people don’t look at all the details. So if they were trying to do a deal in another market someone opposed to whatever they were doing would have been able to say “you can’t trust them”

  5. Regarding the Calgary situation: I would make a “I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you” joke, except I am afraid given the clear lack of scruples shown by Davison and the Flames ownership, they might take that as an actual serious policy idea.

    Maybe they can just have the whole deal be a permanent trade secret and hide the entire city’s books from the public? A politicians dream!

      • Not sure if either of you are familiar with “Grand Designs”, but if so this will make much more sense…

        https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2019/feb/19/david-squires-on-tottenhams-grand-designs-for-their-new-stadium

  6. Spurs not having a VIP Cheese room reminds me of something that happened some years ago when I lived in London. I was invited to a wine tasting at Craven Cottage, the ground for Fulham.

    If anything shows how English soccer has moved away from its working class roots it is that.

    • Agreed. That and premium seat prices that are higher than the avg weekly working person’s wage 30 years ago…

  7. Not sure about the Gazette article regarding the fight over the land for the proposed Expos stadium. If the writers had done more homework they would have discovered that Bronfman & Co’s plan for the land includes commercial, retail and residential development as well… so the proposed “merger” of the two competing plans doesn’t really add anything to what Bronfman wants to do. He, Garber & co would be taking on a partner to do something they don’t need a partner to do.

    I still think any Expos 2.0 plan is going to face serious financial hurdles on operation… The franchise would be in better shape than the one that departed simply because of the resources of the owners (Brochu owned nothing but his share of the Expos, gifted to him by Charles Bronfman). And they would have a new modern stadium. However, the team will still be in the bottom six in payroll and probably will never generate enough revenue to pay off the stadium construction cost.

    At some point, whether it is Bronfman or Devimco (or Sternberg, if you want to go that direction…) doing the building, aren’t you better off to build the revenue producing real estate and not the stadium, if the former is going to subsidize the latter for 35-40 years?

    • Yeah, the whole “what if we had a stadium and a mixed-use development and a dessert topping and a floor wax!” angle was fairly silly — I mostly was just noting that there are other people after that land as well. I fully agree that for the neo-Expos, as for the Rays, the trick isn’t finding a site, it’s finding a giant pile of dollars to build on it.

    • There’s a lot of assumptions here. I don’t see why Montreal would automatically have no money for the kind of payroll a team like Toronto has no problem putting out there. Canada isn’t what it was back then. Every city has been building like crazy for years and their lax immigration restrictions caused their population to explode.

      One can very easily argue that they won’t come out even on the stadium in the long run but there’s no reason they can’t do what Toronto does payroll-wise if the market can support it. Montreal is a big city with multiple big corporations, and the Expos could have fans all across Eastern Canada.

      • The problem is that they’ll have money but it will all be loonies, but they’ll need to pay the players in dollars. The exchange rate been the bane of every a Canadian team and the conversion rate has been getting worse over the last 5-6 years.

      • Speaking of Assumptions….

        The Jays bought their stadium outright for $25m (no, there’s no digits missing: $25m) around 20 years ago. The land under it was worth more than that. So right off the bat, the Jays do not have stadium construction bond or other payments to deal with.

        Second, they are owned by a major sports network… so their value is in programming content. Even at that, the Rogers internal accounting from four or five years ago (discussed on local sports talk shows by former company execs) showed that Rogers effectively “pays” the Jays about $42-45m annually in rights fees.

        For a couple of seasons, the Jays had a payroll in the $160m range. And despite high attendance, they still lost a boatload of cash in those years. They no longer have a payroll anywhere near that. In fact, this year, it could be down around $100m.

        Apart from their MLB distributed revenue (National TV, league wide merch and properties), every dollar the Jays earn is worth $0.75. Add to that the considerable hurdle that US based teams can BOTH expense and depreciate their player payroll, while non-US teams can only expense same.

        Even at that, Toronto is a huge market (about 7m in the GTA) – just about twice the size of Montreal. And the business/large corporate sector in Toronto dwarfs that in Montreal. It’s nothing like an even comparison.

        All these factors add up to an $80-100m hole in any Canadian MLB team’s budget right out of the blocks (more if you compare them not to an avg US based team, but one of the big market high revenue clubs).

        As the Jays showed, if you are willing to lose massive amounts of cash for a year or two to be competitive again, it can still be done. But eventually, you end up needing to recoup that money from fans while putting out what amounts to a triple A team while charging MLB prices.

  8. Wow, I just read the Indy column, and it’s like Doyel took a list of FoS fallacies, and used them as a checklist to write the column. He says:

    – Downtown Indianapolis …. wouldn’t exist without the Pacers
    – … the seasonal boon each franchise provides
    – the 2012 Super Bowl [had]… an estimated local economic impact of $152 million
    – [this year’s ] NBA All-Star Game, which generated an estimated $100 million this past week for Charlotte.

    His false premise is that Indy must choose between giving away public money or losing the teams. And he seems to believe it.

  9. I hope Oakland makes Davis pay out the nose.

    On an unrelated note, the thing I think people are overlooking with this new Tottenham stadium having a football field separate from the soccer field is the potential to play not just more NFL games on it but college games, a Superbowl perhaps one day, and even giving the football teams in the UK a chance to play in a major stadium. It could host the championship for both their university league and their professional league. That in turn would cause even more people to want to join each in order to get that chance. It’s a ridiculous situation with these delays but this stadium could eventually both be very profitable and play a major role in growing the sport in the UK. Not that it will ever be more than what say lacrosse or bowling is here.

    • I doubt it will be that much of a draw. Spurs will draw well and the one-off NFL game will do fine. But that’s it.

      That neighborhood makes FedEx Field look like it has a modern and efficient transport plan. Nowhere near a downtown. Not a Super Bowl venue and teams can play in Wembley too.

  10. In other news, Rental-car tax that supports sports facilities is legal, Arizona Supreme Court says

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2019/02/25/rental-car-tax-support-sports-facilities-legal-arizona-supreme-court-says/2980418002/

    It appears that when the current stadium is deemed outdated, when it turns 20 in 2026, then this funding source will still be in place so as to not have to ask the taxpayers to kick in any additional money (sarcasm).

  11. As usual, the headline on this one is a bit misleading… a deal between two of the FOUR parties that have to approve it has been made for the Raiders to play in Oakland in 2019 and, if necessary, 2020.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/raiders/2019/02/25/raiders-oakland-2019-season-coliseum-agreement/2984100002/

    So they are part way to having somewhere to play…. but it would sure be nice to know some of the financial details…