Friday roundup: Will Royals sale spark new stadium, is Miami asbestos report a Beckham ploy, could developers influence Bills’ future?

Happy last Friday of summer! You’re probably busy getting ready to go somewhere for the long weekend, but if you’re instead staying put (and enjoying the space left by all the people going somewhere for the long weekend), consider spending some time if you haven’t yet reading my Deadspin article on “What’s The Matter With Baseball?“, which interrogates the various theories for MLB’s attendance decline and determines which ones may not be total crap. Do I conclude that it’s all the fault of team owners who’d rather charge rich people through the nose for a lesser number of tickets than try to sell more seats to less deep-pocketed fans? No spoilers!

And now to the news, and lots of it:

  • A new rich guy is buying the Kansas City Royals, and already there’s speculation about whether John Sherman will demand a new stadium when (or before) the team’s Kauffman Stadium lease is up in 2031. The Kansas City Star editorializes that “Kansas Citians should reject any plan that significantly increases public spending for the Royals, either for a new downtown stadium or a ballpark somewhere else,” and further notes that there’s no guarantee a new stadium would even help the Royals’ bottom line (“Winning, it turns out, is more important than a new stadium”), which is all a nice first step; let’s see what happens when and if Sherman actually opens his mouth about his plans.
  • Miami has closed Melreese golf course after determining it had high levels of arsenic and reopened Melreese golf course after environmental officials determined there was nothing “earth shattering” about the pollution levels. And now there’s concern by at least one city commissioner (Manolo Reyes, if you’re scoring at home) that the release of the arsenic findings is part of a ploy by David Beckham’s Inter Miami to get a discount on the lease price of the land, which is still being hashed out. The Miami Herald reports that the team and city are at loggerheads over whether to take environmental remediation costs into account when determining the land value; this epic Beckham stadium saga may have a couple more chapters to go yet.
  • Buffalo developers Carl and William Paladino are really excited about the possibility of a new Bills stadium near land their own, because they could either sell it to the team at an inflated price or develop it themselves once people are excited to live or shop near a new football stadium. (No, I don’t know why anyone would be excited to live or shop near a football stadium only open ten days a year, just go with it.) Carl Paladino once ran for governor of New York, so it’s worth watching to see if he uses his political ties (or skeezy lobbyist friends) to try to influence the Bills’ stadium future.
  • A group trying to get an MLB team for Nashville may not have a stadium or a site or a team, but they do have a name for their vaporteam: the Nashville Stars. Guy-who-wants-to-be-an-MLB-owner John Loar tells the Tennessean he decided on the name “after reading a book on Nashville’s baseball history by author Skip Nipper,” which is presumably this one; the Seraphs, Blues, Tigers, Americans, Volunteers, and Elite Giants honestly all seem like better names than the Stars, which was last used by a franchise in the World Basketball League (the basketball league where tall players weren’t allowed, which, yes, was actually a thing), but it’s really not worth arguing over the name a team that may never exist in our lifetimes.
  • The Richmond city council’s plan to approve spending $350 million on a new downtown arena without consulting the public has hit an apparent snag, which is that four or five members of the nine-member council reportedly oppose the plan, and seven votes are needed to pass it.
  • The editor of the San Francisco Examiner has penned an opinion piece saying the Golden State Warriors‘ new arena is overly opulent and expensive — premium lounges feature wine butlers and private dining rooms, so yeah — but is resigned to this as a necessity (or at least the headline writer is) that it’s “the price we pay for a privately-funded arena.” Which, does anyone really think the Warriors owners would have passed up the chance to charge through the nose for wine butler service if they’d gotten public money? This is the price we pay for rampant income inequality, and don’t you forget it.
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18 comments on “Friday roundup: Will Royals sale spark new stadium, is Miami asbestos report a Beckham ploy, could developers influence Bills’ future?

  1. Neil: I just read your article and I found it interesting. I am a huge baseball fan (it is my favorite sport, followed by hockey then football). I do think economics plays a large role in baseball’s decline, but I also think kids playing video games and liking faster sports like basketball and extreme sports, as well as the media plays a big role in this. With the media, you always hear about the warts involving MLB, football (NFL, College and even High School) and the NHL but seldom about MLS & the NBA. Look at the netting issue and the media always bringing up the decline of African-American baseball players (ignoring the addition of Latin American and Asian players) and the concussion and protesting issues in football. Meanwhile, the NBA, WNBA and ladies soccer are held up as role models (especially when it comes to “Diversity” and “Social Justice” issues).

    1. So kids weren’t distracted by video games when baseball attendance was soaring from 1995-2008, but they have been ever since? This is all Angry Birds’ fault, isn’t it?

      1. Well, the Orioles are having a terrible year. Might as well blame that on them also!

        1. I love baseball, but I find it hard to believe that a sport that has 162 games a year can really state that the average ticket should be $30+. There’s nearly no competition from foreign leagues for top talent, and no competition in the US, so you can’t really say they “need” the money.

          As a comparison, I’ve been able to get a season ticket for soccer for a top team in Germany (17 games) for about $500, with deep reductions for kids. Even cheaper options are available. Strangely enough, this league is one of the best attended in Europe.

          Since now owners aren’t satisfied with asset price growth of their team values but now need to be extremely “profitable” for gameday revenue too, the crappy atmosphere in many stadiums seems to be a feature, not a bug.

  2. After looking up what a Seraphs is I’d be down for a team with that name especially if we could have an Anaheim Angels VS Nashville Seraphs World Series.

    Also very saddened to hear that Carl Paladino is still a thing….boo.

    Happy Friday.

  3. Meanwhile, the astroturf “East Oakland Stadium Alliance” (composed 95% of non-east-Oakland-and-not-affiliated-with-AFLCIO-port-unions) has roped Danny Glover (Giants fan and upper-crust section of the Haight-Ashbury living “gentrification activist”) into talking about how the A’s will gentrify the nearly-population-empty warehouse district between the Port and Downtown …

    … so they should stay at the Coliseum in East Oakland (a very large impoverished area) and gentrify *there*.

    1. If I was The City of Oakland I would be not be concerned what Danny Glover and other Social Activists say. Why? Warriors: Gone. Raiders: One more year left before heading to Las Vegas. If they are not careful and demand they remain @ the Coliseum, one day, the A’s could follow them right out the door.

    2. Today SB293 (TIF district creation for HT ballpark and Jack London Square) passed the final Assembly vote 48-7, back to Senate for concurrence vote and then Governor’s desk. Board to administer the district will be city-controlled, and the city seems eager to grab onto a new revenue source to ab^h^huse.

    3. And AB1191 (exchange of trust lands & passing approval of Bay Coastal Development Commission) has joined it.

      This is important because it means the BCDC ruled that Howard Terminal could *not* be viable for a return to maritime use. A large part of that is that expanding the turning basin to accomodate larger container ships would render the remaining berthing at HT too short to berth the container ships expected to be the minimum in 30 years *if* strong growth occurs during that 30 years. The only option to that would be to take away land from Schnitzer Steel, who own their parcel, are intent on staying, and so would have to be eminent-domained out.

      (HT is already too shallow to berth PanaMax-size container ships, and the berthing space reduction would be to below the length of said PanaMax ships.)

  4. It is amazing to watch what David Glass got with that team. Absolutely nobody wanted that “asset” after Ewing Kauffman died, and the Glass family buying it for $96 million seemed amazing in the region at the time (much of the sale price went to the Kauffman family foundation). To basically ignore it for years, luck into a championship, and then sell it for a billion is not what anyone expected in the early 2000s.

    Because that stadium is so beloved (as is Arrowhead), and because the city is so small, getting a new stadium isn’t going to be an easy sell, and I’d be surprised if they tried. KC is a small market with less population and a lot more sports competition than there was in 1969, but attendance has held up pretty well.

    1. For some reason there’s a lot of talk about a downtown stadium, at least from downtown business interests and the K.C. Star. I agree that Kauffman is well loved, but that hasn’t been an obstacle in the past. Which is why I’m very curious what Sherman’s intentions are.

  5. MLB was talking about 32. Nashville Stars is absurd, of course. Why not just stick with Sounds? That sounds better. Hm.

    Let’s go back to Montreal, and give Mexico a team instead. Why go for the sure thing? Like Charlotte, and Nashville.

    Portland, LOL.

    It doesn’t matter. It’s a joke, anyway. There’s Lopez’s 70th homerun of the year. Santiago just missed getting to that one. Next up is Rodriguez, and pitching is Santana, with Reyes in the bullpen.

    “I don’t really get what he’s talking about. Sounds slightly racist.” Yeah.

    1. Portland LOL. The residents have a high disposal income and a MGP. Charlotte would be tapped out of sponsors and has all the problem with TB. (not enough people within 30 miles). Nashville won’t do a publicly financed stadium.

  6. Enjoyed the deadspin article.

    I think what sometimes gets missed is that even for those of us who grew up before every game was available somewhere on tv, casual watch-from-home fans have always been a big part of baseball’s economic future. We are mobile society. Kids growing up in rural New Mexico or Idaho may seem out of reach to baseball’s coffers… but those kids don’t stay in NM forever. So long as baseball doesn’t remove it’s product completely from OTA or radio (still a thing in some parts), and mandates that at least some games are available on basic cable or satellite packages (how long before MLBtv offers something approaching a game of the week or “Your Team” package?), there will always be new fans coming. If some franchises are having trouble connecting or see a steady decline in fan support, they do have options. They can offer content streamed direct to their target market’s phones at a reasonable price, for example. Or, perish the thought, bring back the $10 (or even $5) upper deck ticket for Tues-Wed-Thurs games. I have to assume they are setting the prices where they do because they believe/know it brings in maximum revenue. They don’t care if that revenue comes from 22,000 fans or 38,000.

    For me the “Compete” argument is the best. There have always been teams that went to spring training knowing they wouldn’t be competing this year and the end result would probably be 5th again, if not 6th, in division. If things went really well, maybe you could cling to 4th and only be 12 games out in late August. Even at that, though, you had 14-18 (of the 24/26) teams competing hard for the 4 playoff spots available.

    Not now. Are there 12 teams legitimately competing for the 10 playoff spots in MLB this year? I don’t think so. Even some teams that are far from “out of it” have become sellers. It’s the MLB equivalent of franchises mailing it in… fans don’t care for that.

    Watch a world series from the early 1970s… try to guess the average age of the fans in the lower bowl. Nothing but grey hair from 1B side all the way round to 3rd. If this is a “problem”, it’s certainly not a new one.

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