Friday roundup: $278 million in public bonds demanded for pro lacrosse stadium, and … honestly, let’s just leave it there, nothing can top that

We have many newses this week:

  • The owners of the Chesapeake Bayhawks are proposing that Anne Arundel County, Maryland provide $278 million in county bonds and free land for a 10,000-seat … lacrosse stadium, really? I know lacrosse is unaccountably popular in Maryland, but that still seems pretty remarkable. (Some of the money would go to build retail and hotel space that the Bayhawks would own, which doesn’t actually make this better. The team owners have previously said they’d pay off the bonds over time, which does if they’d actually make the county whole, but there would still be lost property taxes and tax-exempt bond subsidies and that free land to account for.) The Bayhawks currently play at the Naval Academy’s lacrosse stadium in Annapolis, which was last renovated in 2004; team owner Brendan Kelly seems to consider this a crisis, saying, “I would ask the question: Do you want to fix the problem? Or are we going to kick the can down the road further.” There is a lacrosse team that does not have its own state-of-the-art lacrosse stadium, people. Won’t anyone think of the lacrosse children?
  • Here’s a thing New York Yankees president Randy Levine said this week about NYC F.C.‘s soccer stadium plans: “We are in active negotiations to get a new stadium here in New York. We hope to have an announcement this year.” That was enough to set off a string of self-admittedly overly hopeful soccer blog posts, so it’s worth remembering that 1) the latest NYC F.C. plan has all sorts of problems, and wasn’t even proposed by NYC F.C. but by a private developer; 2) saying overly hopeful things is literally team presidents’ job. No doubt Levine & Co. hope to have something more to report ASAP, but hope and $2.75 will get you a ride on the 4 train to get to an NYC F.C. match at Yankee Stadium.
  • If you’re jonesing for demolition porn of excavators going at arena seats, Oak View Group has you covered with a new video of reconstruction work at Seattle’s KeyArena. They’re keeping the roof, though, which will be good news for all your vintage roof fans.
  • Here’s a column by the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse about how the Minnesota Twins‘ stadium has been a good deal for taxpayers because in addition to spending $350 million on the stadium, the county spent $23 million each on libraries and youth sports projects using leftover money from the same sales tax hike. Reusse is memorable around these parts for writing an extraordinary column in 2012 taking back his support for Vikings stadium subsidies after they’d been approved, writing, “We in the Twin Cities sports media were so amped up over getting a new stadium for the Vikings and thus maintaining them as a subject to write and talk about that not much time was spent looking at the financial realities”; maybe he should just put a large “REMINDER: NO GETTING AMPED” post-it note on his computer monitor that he can consult before future columns?
  • Mexico City will tomorrow see the opening of Mexico’s most expensive baseball stadium, a $175 million, 20,000-seat new home for the Diablos Rojos del México. That’s nearly triple what it was originally projected to cost and with an opening date two years behind schedule, but it’s still a pittance compared to U.S. stadiums (albeit for a much smaller seating capacity) and I can’t find any evidence of public subsidies in news reports, at least.
  • The Wichita city council has approved giving the owners of the relocated New Orleans Baby Cakes four acres of land to develop at a price of $1 an acre, along with $77 million in tax money for a new stadium, despite public criticism that this is an unconscionable giveaway. Councilmember James Clendenin defended the deal on the grounds that “normally when we have developers come from out of town, they want millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in incentives,” and I guess this is just millions upon millions, so shut yer yaps, wouldja?
  • Derek Jeter says Miami Marlins attendance was so terrible last year in his first season of ownership because really it was always this terrible, but former owner Jeffrey Loria lied about how many tickets he sold. This is maybe the most Marlins sentence ever written.
  • Hey, that Sydney, Australia rugby stadium that the New South Wales state government started tearing down last week to make way for a $729 million replacement? Turns out a 2016 study found it could have been upgraded to meet safety standards for as little as $18 million. Whoopsie!

10 comments on “Friday roundup: $278 million in public bonds demanded for pro lacrosse stadium, and … honestly, let’s just leave it there, nothing can top that

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been following your site for awhile. I think you’re an excellent read. Have you been following the Preakness saga in Baltimore. The Maryland Stadium Authority released a study done by Populous that it would take $450M just to renovate Pimlico. Would love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks.

    • Yeah, was going to include a mention of this article today, but I was getting paywall issues:

      https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-city-pimlico-lawsuit-20190319-story.html

      Suffice to say this is a long, complicated story, and nobody comes out looking especially good here.

  2. Adding to the lacrosse stadium thing: The Bayhawks are averaging under 5,000 fans per game so even a 10,000 seat stadium is very optimistic. But no way should a stadium that small cost anywhere near $278 million so I’d have to think MOST of the money is going to retail space, etc.

  3. I could make money too if someone gave me $278 million and free land. But that would be (shriek) welfare.

  4. NYFC needs land for a stadium, and talk about filling in the East “River” resurfaces in the same week. Coincidence? I think not.

    • They’re only talking about building out 500 feet from the shoreline — that’d be really tight for a soccer stadium, even the short way across.

  5. Regarding the KeyArena roof- the only rainout in the history of the NBA occurred under it in ’86. Ironically vs the Suns.
    https://www.historylink.org/File/7860

    Meanwhile, Key Bank has been getting years of free flack from the place, their deal terminated 2011, but the city has not reverted to the old name of the Seattle Center Coliseum except maybe on paper, signs on top of the facility continue to plug a vanished sponsor.

  6. Regarding the KeyArena roof- the only rainout in the history of the NBA occurred under it in ’86. Ironically vs the Suns.
    https://www.historylink.org/File/7860

    Meanwhile, Key Bank has been getting years of free flack from the place, their deal terminated 2011, but the city has not reverted to the old name of the Seattle Center Coliseum except maybe on paper.

  7. Related to the Mexico City baseball stadium; the supporters of Mississippi State University Baseball provided the $65 million required to completely rebuild the old baseball grounds in Starkville.