Friday roundup: Indiana and Missouri rack up another $390m in team subsidies, and other dog-bites-man news

Sadly, there’s another loss to report this week: Rob McQuown, who for the past decade has been one of the core tech and admin guys at Baseball Prospectus, passed away on Tuesday. I never met Rob personally, but in my days writing and editing for BP we exchanged emails a ton, and he was always a sharp and good-humored presence keeping the site running behind the scenes. (He wrote some excellent fantasy baseball coverage for a while, too.) I haven’t heard the details of his death, but I do know it was way too soon, and my sympathies go out to all his friends and family and colleagues who are mourning him this week. Here’s a lovely podcast tribute by Ben Lindbergh to Rob’s multifarious and too-often underappreciated gifts.

And now, to the news:

  • The Indianapolis City-County Council gave final signoff to $290 million in subsidies for the Indiana Pacers, which along with new and past operating subsidies brings team owner Herb Simon’s total haul to more than a billion dollars. The team’s new lease lasts until 2044, but I’d wager that Simon won’t wait that long before going back to what’s been an insanely lucrative taxpayer well.
  • The state of Missouri has reportedly approved $3 million a year for 20 years, coming to a total of $70 million, for upgrades for the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Royals, and Kansas City Chiefs stadiums — yeah, I don’t get how that math works either, especially when this was previously reported as $70 million for the Blues plus $30 million for the K.C. teams, and has elsewhere been reported as $70 million for the Blues and $60 million for the K.C. teams, but I’m sure it was copied from a press release somewhere, and that’s what passes for fact-checking these days, right? This brings the teams’ total haul to … let’s see, the K.C. teams got $250 million previously, and the Blues owners got $67 million in city money, so let’s go with “around $400 million,” about which you can say that it’s at least cheaper than what Indiana taxpayers are on the hook for, and that is pretty much all you can say.
  • The city of Anaheim is still waiting on its now-overdue appraisal of the Los Angeles Angels‘ stadium land so it can open talks with team owner Arte Moreno on how much he should pay for development rights on the stadium parking lots. Mayor Harry Sidhu has appointed a negotiating team, though, which includes Sidhu himself, something that has drawn criticism since Angels execs donated to his election campaign. Sidhu also stated that “our theme parks, sports venues and convention center are a matter of pride, but their real purpose is to serve residents by generating revenue for public safety, parks, libraries and community centers and by helping us keep taxes and fees low,” which is not likely to help convince anyone that he understands sports economics like his predecessor did and isn’t just repeating what his funders tell him.
  • Oak View Group’s Tim Leiweke is trying to build a 10,000-seat arena in Palm Springs, and economists point out that this won’t help the local economy much because “you’re crazy if you think I’m flying to Palm Springs to see your minor league hockey team,” and Leiweke says Palm Springs is just different, okay, because so many attendees will be people who are already coming to town to play golf, gamble, or stay at local resorts. How this makes it a major economic plus when those people also see a concert when they’re in town Leiweke didn’t say, but who’re you going to believe, a bunch of people who study economics for a living or a guy who was once the youngest GM in indoor soccer?
  • A Cincinnati nonprofit is trying to raise $2 million to preserve affordable housing around F.C. Cincinnati‘s new stadium, and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says that maybe building more market-rate housing will allow low-income residents of existing buildings to stay put. Yeah, that’s really not going to work.
  • Nobody in Miami-Dade County has studied the impact of building a new Inter Miami stadium right next to the city’s airport, and some county commissioners think that maybe that might be a thing they’d want to study.
  • Here’s a good, long R.J. Anderson article on three cities vying for MLB expansion teams (Portland, Montreal, and Raleigh) that should provide reading material for the inevitable endless wait for MLB to actually expand. (I’m also quoted in it, right before Jim Bouton.)
  • And here’s another long article that quotes me, this one by Bill Shea of The Athletic on how stadium subsidies have changed since the Great Recession (some sports economists say it’s tougher to get public money now, I say “Bah!”).
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6 comments on “Friday roundup: Indiana and Missouri rack up another $390m in team subsidies, and other dog-bites-man news

  1. The weirdest thing in that Palm Springs story is that the proposed AHL team for the proposed arena will be for Seattle & not Las Vegas.

    Happy Friday. Stay Hydrated.

  2. Neil: Things are different. I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of building sports facilities. Look at the Olympics and the cost involved. That is why fewer and fewer countries want to host them. I know certain teams and schools are getting new or upgraded facilities, but many others ( Rays, Redskins, NYCFC, Temple University, Coyotes, Penn State ( Beaver Stadium renovation), and NE Revolution) to name a few) are no closer then before the recession. I am willing to bet some of those on the list are not getting what they hope for.

    1. There were tons of teams that had to wait forever before the recession, too. (Marlins, Twins, Vikings.) Check back in ten years and see if the current crop end up not getting significant subsidies — it’d be nice, but I’m not holding my breath. As a team owner, you only have to go 1 for 10 to end up with a fat check.

  3. Architectural critic Paul Goldberger got a chance to tour Howard Terminal with the A’s. He’s excited about it.

    “Thanks to the planning team ⁦@Athletics⁩ for a great tour of the Howard Terminal ballpark site yesterday. Very excited at the potential of this site, better connected to downtown and JackLondonSq than I’d thought. And ⁦@BjarkeIngels⁩ design is very promising.”

    twitter . com /paulgoldberger/status/1152267325581643776

    1. Continued comments, where his biggest critique of the plan is “too circular”:

      “There is more activity around Jack London Square than I’d thought, and it and the downtown core are closer to the site than I’d thought. (And the cranes are cool.) These all add up to a more positive outlook for site. But still challenges esp re ballpark itself (too symmetrical).”

      twitter . com /paulgoldberger/status/1152277968170844161

      “While there are exceptions, generally the best ballparks are asymmetrical, largely in response to site conditions. Howard Terminal site unusual in that it has few normal constraints (but other challenges). Bottom line is that I associate pure circles w bad mid century design.”

      twitter . com /paulgoldberger/status/1152288608872611840

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