Friday roundup: Beckham proposes stadium lease, FC Cincinnati pays off evicted tenants, Florida city admits its spring training economic projections were bunk

Is anyone else hugely enjoying John Cameron Mitchell’s new semiautobiographical musical podcast “Anthem: Homunculus” but having a hard time listening because the Luminary podcast platform keeps freezing up mid-episode? Is there enough overlap in the Field of Schemes and John Cameron Mitchell fan bases that anyone here even understands this question? (If not, here’s a good primer by my old Village Voice colleague Alan Scherstuhl.) Is Luminary still offering podcasts on its pay tier without the creators’ permissions? How should one handle it when great art is only available on platforms that have some major ethical issues? Are we ever going to get to this week’s stadium news?

Let’s get to this week’s stadium news:

  • David Beckham’s Inter Miami has offered to pay $3.5 million a year in rent on Melreese Park land for 39 years, plus $25 million for other Miami park projects, as part of a stadium lease agreement. That still doesn’t sound like too bad a deal for the public to me, but as nobody seems to be linking to the lease proposal in its entirety, there could still always be some time bombs hidden in there that weren’t reported on. More news when the Miami city commission actually gets ready to vote on this proposed lease, hopefully!
  • The owners of F.C. Cincinnati have agreed to pay off the tenants they’re evicting to make way for an entrance to their new stadium, but one of the conditions of the payout is that no one can discuss how much it’s for. We do know, however, that “at one point pizza was ordered in during the eight hours of negotiations” — thank god for intrepid journalism!
  • Clearwater, Florida just cut its estimate of the economic impact of the Philadelphia Phillies‘ presence during spring training from $70 million a year to $44 million a year after realizing that it didn’t make sense to include spending by locals who would be spending their money in town anyway. Now let’s see them adjust their estimates to account for tourists who are visiting Florida already because it’s March and Florida is warm and happen to take in a ballgame while they’re there and maybe we’ll be getting somewhere.
  • Good news for Columbus: After a good year for concerts, the public-private owned Nationwide Arena turned a $1.87 million operating profit last year. The less good news: None of that was used to repay the $4.76 million in tax subsidies the arena received, because the profits were instead poured into improvements like “roof and concrete repairs, natural-gas line replacement, new spotlights, metal detectors, and renovations to corporate suites.” The maybe-good news: If this means that the arena managers won’t ask for new subsidies for renovations for a while because they’re getting enough from operations, yeah, no, I don’t really expect this will forestall that either, but here’s hoping.
  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred again said a bunch of things about the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays stadium situations, but as usual nobody read them to the end because it’s impossible to do so without falling asleep. I am not complaining when I note that Manfred is an incompetent grifter compared to some of his colleagues in other sports, really I’m not. (Well, a little.)
  • Speaking of the Rays, Minnesota Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven would like to blow up Tropicana Field because a fly ball hit a speaker, but the game broadcast cut to commercial before he could spell out his financing plan to build a replacement stadium.
  • A street in Inglewood near the Los Angeles Rams‘ new stadium is seeing stores close as a result of luxury blight, but Mayor James Butts says it’s just because of gentrification unrelated to the stadium. Which either way makes it hard to see how the stadium (or the arena that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Butts want) is needed to help the Inglewood economy, but mayors aren’t paid to think very hard about this stuff.
  • Washington, D.C., is spending $30 million to install three public turf ballfields near RFK Stadium, which sounds like a lot of money for just three turf fields, but still a better investment than some other things D.C. has spent money on, so go … kickball players? Kickball needs to be played on turf? The things you learn in this business!
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20 comments on “Friday roundup: Beckham proposes stadium lease, FC Cincinnati pays off evicted tenants, Florida city admits its spring training economic projections were bunk

  1. I love how it’s okay for the Red Sox to erect a 40 foot tall wall in left field and have a foul ball/home run in right field. The Yankees have a stadium where a little leaguer can hit a home run in right field. The Cubs have all kind of plants growing off the fence where the ball can get stuck. All of these things are just fine. But because it’s the Trop a ball occasionally hitting the catwalk or speaker is the worst thing for baseball. It doesn’t affect most games so get over it already.

    1. Damn, that’s a good take. Rays need to brand their quirks, like “the Pesky Pole” and “Green Monster.” Maybe the “Carl Crawford Catwalk.” And the “Speakers of the House.”

  2. Also, did anyone else note the irony of a Twins broadcaster calling for another ballpark to be blown up?

  3. John Cameron Mitchell? The guy who did the Timex commercials? I didn’t know he was still alive.

  4. I think anytime we are talking about stadium subsidies we are inevitably talking about billionaire franchise owners as well.

    So any reference to the ‘angry inch’ brigade or ‘shortbus’ are perfectly cromulent in this context.

    1. I think making connections between team owners and the “shortbus” would be very antithetical to JCM’s use of the term in that movie.

      1. I don’t believe franchise owners have any reluctance to engage in what might be considered liberal sexual practices despite their public professions toward conservatism and alleged “family” values.

        Kraft, Trump, Sterling et al.

        If it seemed like I intended the other meaning, I did not.

        1. I don’t think the “shortbus” metaphor was meant just to refer to liberal sexual practices, at least not in the Kraftian sense. I refuse to accept that Donald Trump has a freak flag to fly, no matter how well hidden, or where.

          1. If he does, it would be the bigliest and bestest flag ever had by anyone anywhere at any time. Plus he probably didn’t pay the people who made it for/sold it to him. And it’s probably mushroom shaped.

  5. Defending Manfred is difficult… and ill advised (much like Goodell, let’s be honest).

    However, I would say this… the used car salesman who preceded him in the job took the low hanging fruit. We could just as easily be blaming Selig for “failing” to threaten Oakland and Tampa into building new ballparks for no real reason at all. Selig spent a considerable amount of time on this (remember the blue ribbon panel?), yet got nowhere. He bullied several other locations into spending a ton of money on baseball facilities. However, I would argue those cities were always going to cave and open the vault (in most cases, unnecessarily) to provide welfare for their billionaire owners.

    Manfred was left with two stadium projects to resolve… by far the two most difficult (as Tampa has an iron clad lease with the team for the Trop, and the A’s don’t want to leave the Bay area but can’t move to any of the other cities in the region without making an agreement with the Giants to do so… something the Giants are uninterested in even talking about) of any Selig had on his plate.

    So, although I never want to tempt fate against the interests of taxpayers, Selig left Manfred the two closest to impossible stadium situations to resolve. Manfred has duly failed to solve them, naturally.

    Ultimately, both will be resolved. I think Oakland will get to build a new stadium (maybe on the coliseum site, although I still believe if the city really wants them to develop HT then they should work with the city to do that) and that it will open before 2025.

    And the Rays will either make a sensible agreement with the region on what to do before 2027 and pay their fair share, or they will move in time for the 2028 season (which, although it sounds futuristic, is really not all that far away), either under Sternberg’s ownership or someone else’s.

    1. Good points, but I don’t think the Rays can move in time for 2028: Their lease still says they can’t even talk to other cities about stadiums until after the 2027 season, correct? So the only way to move in 2028 would be to go to some existing stadium, then try to negotiate a new one after arriving, which would be bad for leverage.

      1. I know it would be risky ( see the Quebec Arena as an example) but building a Stadium.’On Spec” is possible ( especially if we are in say 2024 and the Rays are no closer to a new Stadium then they are now.

      2. Yes that’s true Neil. They can’t talk to any “non Tampa-ish” locations before their lease is up.

        I do wonder what the court imposed penalty might be for doing so if the club was in the last year of it’s lease and neither side planned to renew, though. Nevertheless, depending on where they planned to move to there are existing (mostly bad) options for short term homes.

        Something else I’ve been wondering is when we might see a team in this type of “predicament” (and there aren’t many that have iron clad leases or, through careful planning (*Raiders*) leave themselves with pretty much nowhere to go) use the temporary stadium option.

        I’ve been to a couple of the new generation of “popup” stadia… temporary seating with permanent/semi permanent concession and bathroom facilities built or moved in (some of the conveniences come in converted sea cans and are fully set up and ready to go in relatively short order). While no-one is going to confuse them with a modern stadium, they are quite comfortable and perfectly suitable for short term use (IE: 2 years while the main stadium is built).

        If MLB knew a stadium plan was in place and the temp option was at most a 2 season affair, I could see them approving such a move. And in the case of the Trop, where no-one goes anyway, a temp stadium somewhere else might even draw more fans and drive more revenue.

        1. They can’t talk to any location outside of Pinellas County until their lease is up. That means they can’t even talk to Tampa. Their only serious options until 2027 are St. Petersburg or the unincorporated pockets of Pinellas between St. Pete and its suburbs. The only reason they were ever able to talk to Tampa/Hillsborough is because St. Pete temporarily allowed them to look at Hillsborough locations, and that window has closed.

  6. I do want to ask a sort of related question:
    Is there any other ballpark besides The Trop, which has been portrayed by its team as awful and out-of-date from the moment it opened.

    I mean, even the hated Metrodome got a little bit of love early in its lifespan.

    I don’t think anyone has ever said a positive thing about The Trop, other than noting that the roof keeps out the Florida thunderstorms.

    1. The only thing I know about the Trop is 15 years ago, one of my co-workers was in the process of moving to Tampa. His comment was the Trop was it the absolute worst place in the world to watch a ball game. Not sure how many stadia he had been to.

    2. The Trop had been in existence for a number of years before the Devil Rays were a gleam in Naimoli’s eye (I spent 92-93 hoping the Giants wouldn’t move there, and it was very new then)

  7. The Chicago Tribune once called the Trop “nice enough.”

    I don’t think Olympic Stadium in Montreal ever got much love. The Kingdome was loud, and that’s about it. And the Metrodome was drawing Billy Martin’s ire (“it’s terrible they named a great guy like Hubert Humphrey after this place) pretty much from the minute it opened.

    If the lesson you’re getting here is “indoor baseball sucks,” I will not attempt to dissuade you.

    1. Candlestick Park was out of date from the day it opened (the last stadium built with posts obstructing views in a large percentage of the seating area) and the complaining about the weather started during whenever the first night game was. But Richard Nixon, who threw out the first pitch at the opening game, called it “one of the finest stadiums of our time”, so there’s that.

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