Friday roundup: When is a football stadium too old to be a football stadium?

If it wasn’t clear from the photos of devastation in the Bahamas, the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is going to get much, much worse than the official confirmed number (30, at this writing). You can find a list of some organizations raising money to help survivors here; please give generously if you can. And remember as you do that it’s the warming oceans that helped make this so bad.

And with that, on to news that’s marginally less life and death:

  • Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District chair Ray Baker says the Broncos‘ current stadium (which just got a new corporate name, go keep track of these things on your own if you like because I can’t be bothered to remember them) should last “between 50 and 60 years,” at which point Broncos president Joe Ellis replied that “I can’t judge where entertainment venues are going to need to be in the future” and “I can’t tell you whether or not, in 10 years, the city of Denver and our seven-county region has an appetite to host a Super Bowl or an appetite to host a Final Four, which means you need a roof. Or do you need a new stadium?” The new naming-rights deal lasts 21 years, at which point the stadium will be 40 years old; please place your bets on whether it will still be standing by then.
  • RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., will not make it to its 60th birthday in October 2021, which is all well and good as nobody plays there now and it’s costing the city $3.5 million a year for maintenance, landscaping, pest control, security, and utilities. (Note: Yeah, that seems like a lot to me too for an empty stadium.) D.C. officials say they plan to build an indoor sports complex and food market on the site, but have no plans as yet for an NFL stadium, no matter how much Mayor Muriel Bowser might want one.
  • Cleveland Browns COO David Jenkins says team execs still haven’t decided whether to demand a new stadium or a renovated one, but “we’re not far from having those conversations.” Note to Denver: The Browns’ stadium is two years older than the Broncos’.
  • Forbes reports that the value of the Oakland Raiders jumped by $1.5 billion to $2.9 billion after announcing their move to Las Vegas, which is an indication that either there’s something wrong with Forbes’ franchise valuation estimates or there’s something wrong with how much rich people are willing to spend to buy sports teams, or both. Even with the state of Nevada kicking in $750 million, the team will still be on the hook for more than $1 billion in stadium construction costs, which is going to soak up most of the team’s new stadium revenue even if their plan to sell tickets mostly to tourists and visiting fans works out.
  • The Anaheim city council is still squabbling over who knew when that when they voted on a Los Angeles Angels lease extension back in January, they were actually giving team owner Arte Moreno the right to stay through 2029 if he wanted, not just until 2020. (The team owner got a one-year extension of his opt-out clause as well, but the lease is now back in place to its original expiration date set before Moreno opted out the first time last year.) One thing that’s for sure is that this was a major gift to Moreno as stadium renovation talks continue, because “the best friend of a sports team owner is time,” says, uh, me.
  • A bill making it easier for Oakland to create tax districts at Howard Terminal to help raise money for infrastructure for a new A’s stadium passed the California state legislature this week; it’s still unclear exactly how much tax money would be spent on infrastructure, or exactly what “infrastructure” would mean, or even if the stadium will be built at Howard Terminal at all, but that’s one more skid greased, anyway.
  • The new Long Island Railroad station outside the new New York Islanders arena is set to be open by 2022, which only about 90 years faster than these things usually go in New York. It helps to have friends in high places!


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13 comments on “Friday roundup: When is a football stadium too old to be a football stadium?


    Hey Neil,

    You forgot to mention this article about the potential for MLB in Vegas. Last week I read you Deadspin article on the health of baseball, but I think the real question is “Does MLB have enough interest around the country so that cities of the future like Indy, Charlotte, Austin, etc. will shell out $1 billion in public dollars for an MLB only stadium?” This article (as one I read similar early last year) indicates the answer is NO! How the potential growth of the sport at the professional level is perceived plays a role in this.

    1. I didn’t forget — there’s literally nothing newsworthy in that Review-Journal story, unless it’s that even a Clark County commissioner agrees that Vegas wouldn’t be a good MLB market.

      1. I think its somewhat newsworthy because whenever the discussion of MLB expansion Charlotte and Las Vegas are always top of mind even though though there really is no interest in these markets( not to mention keeping the Tampa Bay Rays at the Trop FOREVER makes more sense than putting teams in both markets). I think fans are more interested in expansion and relocation than whether to ban the infield shift or limit pick off attempts.

        I pointed it out to you because this goes back to your deadspin article on the health of the game. If you recall about 20 yrs ago mayor Williams of DC did a press conference where he wore a Senators caps with other DC officials singing “take me out to the ballgame” which kicked off DC’s (not Northern VA) attempt to get a team. To use a football analogy, the Expos were at the half time mark in there relocation quest with Relocation and Not Relocation tied. Now two teams Oakland and TB are in the third quarter and fourth quarter of relocation with relocation in the lead. Where is the Mayor Williams of today? You could argue in Portland and Montreal, but not the next great cities of the 21st century, (Charlotte, Vegas, Vancouver, Raleigh, San Antonio and the list goes on a mile). Why? Because though there may be some life left in MLB it doesn’t have the social and political currency if you will that it had in previous decades where a politician is willing to deal with the onerous MLB and take a bullet at the polls for MLB.
        In short, the political and social landscape for MLB has changed.

        1. “…whenever the discussion of MLB expansion Charlotte and Las Vegas are always top of mind…”

          Who’s mind, exactly?

          A recent study of municipal regions with enough “excess” discretionary income to support the current MLB franchise model (in addition to any existing franchises in other leagues) demonstrated that only two markets in North America presently have the economic heft and capacity to do so.

          Those markets were the NY metro area and Montreal. And Montreal was no sure thing, given the encumbrance of the often significant C$ – U$D exchange rate (when the study was done the currencies were more or less at par). One would think than LA (like NY) could support a third team, but curiously that city was not named. It certainly has the size, but perhaps the median income is simply not high enough across the basin.

          Las Vegas plays like a city of around 1m (even though it now has well in excess of 2m residents) because of the nature of Las Vegas “work” (most of the prospective resident customers work rotating shifts, so at any given time 1/3 are sleeping and another 1/3 are working).

          While Charlotte is an interesting (and growing) consideration, the city itself is the 16th largest by population (right with Indianapolis and Columbus, significantly smaller than Jacksonville, Austin and San Diego), it is only the 23rd largest CMA… right between Orlando (which is actually growing faster than both Vegas and Charlotte), San Antonio and Portland). Vegas is 28th and already has two major league teams in situ or on the way.

          Neither Las Vegas or Charlotte are legitimate MLB markets… Vegas is particularly a dim prospect as MLB would be competing with the NHL in spring and the NFL in fall (starting next year).

          1. Whose mind? Youtubers (some of them kids) and bloggers who probably don’t think about expansion/relocation( which probably is a good thing for them) have alot of content where Vegas and Charlotte seem like favorites.

            I completely agree. While I would totally recommend a young person to move and set roots in Charlotte, TB at the Trop would be better than Charlotte with a swanky new ballpark. TB biggest achilles heel is that fact it has the least amount of people in a 30 miles radius on top of the fact it is a service economy with residents with low disposal income. Guess who has the same problem….Charlotte. Plus with NASCAR imbued in the culture and the fact sponsorship would be tapped out, MLB should take a knee on this market. Also, the pols weren’t too keen on MLB when the Expos were considering relocating.

            Vegas would also be a disaster. For some reason, Dan Patrick and other radio hosts who have interviewed Manfred throw it out there first. Like the article I posted no one is bullish on MLB. The article explains why.

            I am bullish on Portland because it is same Metro area population as St. Louis and Baltimore but the residents have a higher disposal income. Also I have read articles where interest in MLB is high. The group who is trying to get a team there realizes that only a private stadium will fly in that part of the county. Oregon’s onerous zoning laws are their greatest challenge.

          2. Portland’s metro area is actually about 13% smaller than Baltimore and St. Louis, though it could catch up by around 2030:


            Charlotte is actually slightly bigger than Portland, and growing faster. (And both are about the same size as St. Louis and Baltimore in terms of Nielsen households.)

            The distribution of city market sizes is a lot like the distribution of ballplayer talent levels: There are a handful of superstars, a somewhat larger number of legit major leaguers, and then a whole bunch of “Quadruple-A” candidates who are destined to either be the worst in the majors or the best in the minors. Montreal and Portland are arguably the two best of those, but there isn’t a huge difference between them and Charlotte, Nashville, Vegas, etc., in that they’d all be a gamble, where at best they’d settle in comfortably in the bottom half of the league in attendance and revenues, and at worst they’d make the Rays and Marlins look good by comparison.

  2. I do not think there is ANYONE who posts here, and is more in favor of the Islanders Arena, but I also have to be honest. I do not think the station is really necessary (Floral Park Station and it’s configuration would have been fine and much cheaper option), plus I really wonder if the train station will be built on time? Why? Look at East Side Access. It was supposed to be finished in 2009 and is not due to be completed until 2022. Throw in the new Sunnyside and Elmhurst stations that were promised but will not get built, yet once again they can “Afford” this new station.

    1. I expect the MTA Elmont station to be late/over budget just like 2nd Avenue, Fulton St/World Trade Center, LIRR Eastside…no justification in the land giveaway or the MTA station deal but as an Islanders fan I’m hoping the arena problem will be solved in a couple of years (but I thought Barclays was going to do that too!)

  3. On RFK, the plan to build the market / indoor stadium is on hold because the lease won’t allow either to be built. The city’s solution to this is to transfer the land from NPS to the city, but at the same time that would free it up for the city to build a new NFL stadium since all the site restrictions would be dropped. Events DC and the city have both refused to rule out a stadium entirely, and none of the plans presented so far are on the RFK footprint (the market/indoor stadium are in a current parking lot) meaning that the city at any time just change it’s mind and build a stadium there.


    St. Louis Blue’s practice facility some guy says 20mil in economic

    20 million of

    1. Not only some guy, but the guy who is building and operating the practice facility. No conflict of interest there!

  5. In defense of the Browns, if you want to so anything in Cleveland it does take several years of talking about it in order to get anywhere. I moved there in 2003 and everyone was saying they needed a new convention center. They passed a tax for it in 2007. It didn’t break ground until 2011. They had the first Sustainability Summit in 2009. The just now released a plan. In 2008 they were talking about a windfarm on the Lake. Still nothing. Don’t even get me started on Lakefront development.

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