Saturday roundup: Manfred endorses Tampontreal Ex-Rays, NYCFC readies Bronx stadium plan (maybe), everybody in Nashville sues everybody else

Man, I sure picked the wrong week to get so sick that I couldn’t post for a couple of days! But even if it’s now the weekend and I’m only at about 80%, the news is at 110%, so let’s get to it:

  • First up is Thursday’s declaration by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that he and baseball owners are “100% convinced” that having the Tampa Bay Rays play half their games in Montreal “is best way to keep Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay.” That’s not entirely surprising — I mean, it’s surprising that we have a major sports executive saying that the best way to keep a team from moving is to let it move half its games, but no more surprising than when Rays owner Stuart Sternberg first said it last June — since it’s very rare for sports commissioners and fellow owners to stand in the way of their fellow owners’ stadium or relocation plans, especially if it doesn’t infringe on their territories. (Speaking of territories, Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said, “We are supportive of them exploring it,” if you were wondering.) The plan itself remains, in the words of the great unemployed sports editor Barry Petchesky, “completely batshit,” not least because it would require getting not one but two cities to build not one but two new stadiums just to land half a team, but also for a billion other reasons. It still makes the most sense as a Madman Theory strategy by Sternberg to scare Tampa Bay or Montreal into competing to build him at least one stadium — can you imagine the headlines to come about “Montreal is moving ahead with its stadium while Tampa lags behind?” or vice versa? — but sports owners are just rich, not necessarily smart, so who the hell knows what Sternberg really intends to do? Whatever it is, though, he’ll have Manfred’s support, because Manfred knows who signs his checks.
  • NYC F.C.‘s plan for a new stadium just south of Yankee Stadium has been reportedly almost ready for more than a year and a half now, but now it’s supposedly really almost ready, according to a different New York Times reporter than the one who reported the initial rumor. The outline of the plan remains roughly the same: The Yankees owners, who are minority owners of the MLS club, would allow the city to demolish a parking garage that their lease otherwise requires remain in place, a private developer would take the garage and a parcel across the street and the street itself (plus a highway off-ramp) and build housing and a hotel and other stuff on part of it while leasing the rest to NYC F.C. to build a stadium on, which would — again, supposedly — allow the whole thing to move forward without public money being used for construction. Being used for other things is another story: The Times doesn’t mention whether the team or developers would pay the city anything for the section of East 153rd Street that would need to be demapped and buried beneath a soccer pitch, or how much the developers would pay to lease the garage site, or if either parcel would pay property taxes. (The Times reports that “Maddd and N.Y.C.F.C. [would] convey the [street] property to the city” then lease it back, which certainly sounds like an attempt to evade property taxes.) City officials said that “a deal has not been reached, and more conversations are needed,” so maybe none of these things have even been decided; tune back in soon, or maybe in another year and a half!
  • The lawsuit filed by Save Our Fairgrounds claiming that Nashville S.C. stadium project would take up too much public land needed for other uses is moving to trial, and Nashville S.C. has sued to intervene in their lawsuit, and everybody’s trying to figure out if NASCAR and soccer can coexist on adjacent parcels, and soccer fans are mad that that stadium isn’t getting built yet, and the community coalition that negotiated a community benefits agreement to go along with the stadium plan is mad that nobody’s consulting them about any of this. It’s only a matter of time before Jimmy Carter is called in to resolve this.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has put $55 million into his state budget proposal over the next two years to renovate Hartford’s arena, with the rest of the cost — estimated at between $100 million and $250 million, depending on how extensive it is — to be paid off by private investors who would get … something. The state is studying it now! Get off their back!
  • A bunch of the Carolina Panthers fans who bought “permanent seat licenses” to help finance the team’s stadium back in 1993 have found that the “permanent” part isn’t actually so much true: About 900 seats in the front of one end zone are being ripped out to make way for luxury suites for soccer (or a standing-room “supporters’ section — the latter makes more sense, but the Charlotte Observer article on this is frustratingly unclear), so fans with PSLs there are being offered either to move to other nearby locations or to sell their licenses back to the team for 25% over what they initially paid for them. No wonder everyone else started calling them “personal” seat licenses!
  • Also, the Panthers are having their stadium property tax bill reduced by $3.5 million a year, because they asked nicely. Or just asked, and are a major sports franchise and therefore an 800-pound gorilla, with all the privileges that go with that. One of those two.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to play two home games in London next year, which the team’s website says is “strategically aligned” with development in their Jacksonville stadium’s parking lot, somehow, though is one extra week of construction time really going to help them all that much? Or maybe this is some weird kind of brinkmanship, as in “approve our Lot J development, stat, or we’ll keep moving games to London?” Anyway, cue people freaking out about the Jaguars moving to London again now, which team owner Shad Khan can’t be unhappy about because savvy negotiators and leverage and all that.
  • A poll by the Oakland Athletics on where the team should build a new stadium found that Oakland residents backed the team’s preferred Howard Terminal site by 63-29%, but a poll by a group that opposes the Howard Terminal plan found that residents prefer the current Oakland Coliseum site by a 62-29% margin. Reminder: Polls are garbage!
  • This video of an entire Russian hockey arena collapsing during reconstruction work, with a worker clearly visible on the roof as it gives way, doesn’t actually have much to with stadium subsidies, but it sure is impressive-looking, in a horrific way.
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23 comments on “Saturday roundup: Manfred endorses Tampontreal Ex-Rays, NYCFC readies Bronx stadium plan (maybe), everybody in Nashville sues everybody else

  1. Neil,

    I will be upping my donations to your site and let me tell you why.

    I hope critics of this Montreal Tampa proposal start taking aim at the POLs (Mayor Castor and St. Pete Council members) that are showing sympathy toward this proposal,
    The idea of spending $600 million of taxpayer money on a part time stadium in a service-oriented economy like Tampa Bay with its low disposable income residents has implications that go beyond sports.
    This proposal is not only a walking contradiction (we need this plan to obtain more cable and sponsorship revenue but need a new modern stadium to obtain that revenue?) and GET THIS contradicts the central talking point for taxpayer funding of stadiums which is that sports teams are a community asset that provide intangible benefits. This proposal does not as this team will have some weird moniker that doesn’t represent the community. Get ready for jabs from Late Night Comedians after the team wins the world series.

    If this proposal doesn’t send the Tampa Bay residents into pitchfork and torch mode to these POLs considering this then BYE BYE America. Hello Russian/Latin American style oligarchy. Hello Russian style serfdom.It shows the rich can get away with anything. The implications of this are serious and real. Supposedly Castor is a heavy hitter in TB machine politics.

    Some background on me. I am a fanatic about getting MLB teams in Portland and Montreal. They are vibrant and beautiful cities that would give MLB a distinct flavor other leagues which don’t have both cities have.I have been indifferent in the past to the subject of tax payer backed stadiums. I somewhat agreed with the central talking point despite economic analysis showing there is not net economic benefit to them.I am also not a typical internet message board naysayer. The proposal has some merit if done privately though I think it will flop quite spectacularly depending on how it is done.
    Neil please continue covering this story as much as you can. This really is the greatest corporate welfare scheme ever.

    1. “Russian/Latin America style oligarchy”? Not to demean, attack, or criticize you in any way, but where have you been the last umpteen years? That’s precisely what’s been going on, especially the last three; increasingly, owners of major (and minor, for that matter) league sports teams have found that the return on investment of a few thousand bucks to a local politician is way out of proportion. However, if Sternberg and MLB think that they’ll get two cities (half a continent apart) to build new baseball palaces to accommodate only half a season every year, he’s dumber than anyone thought.

      1. In a perfect world I agree but pols on both sides of the bay are warming to the idea. Stu isn’t as stupid as them

  2. The ‘East Oakland Stadium Alliance’ … isn’t primarily (or even close to majority) East Oakland residents. Its membership is very much dominated by the ILWU and PMSA, two unions that have screaming from the get-go and keep screaming their talking points no matter how many times the Port Commission calls them out on complete BS.

    www eastoaklandstadiumalliance com/partners
    (10 port unions, two small local churches)

    The poll whose results supported Howard Terminal was by the city Chamber of Commerce (NOT the team), while the poll sponsored by the ILWU/PMSA … we have no idea _at all_ who was polled, but I’d say there’s a very strong chance they were union members.

    1. The thing is the HT boosters aren’t remotely representative of Oakland voters either. All these people are self-interested liars, and that’s clear to anyone with basic political and polling literacy.

  3. Sharing home games between two cities in different countries certainly worked wonders for the Expos in 2003/4… They averaged about 14,000 in San Juan and a little over 12,000 in Montreal in the first season of the two split.

  4. …also, RIP Mr. Kucherov. The most horrifying part of the video is that you can clearly see that the roof sections that have already been severed from the support ring have pulled several feet away from the ring… It was entirely predictable that additional cuts would cause the very collapse that was recorded.

    Who, if anyone, was planning this work?

    1. Granted that drones are everywhere these days, but having one in just the right spot to capture the disaster in truly cinematic fashion? I’m not interested in hunting down the inevitable conspiracy theories, but that’s one hell of a coincidence.

      1. It is… and the source of the video is not confirmed. However the construction companies I’ve worked with in the past few years often use drones to monitor installation work and ‘remote view’ future work locations in order to better prepare for that work.

        It’s not impossible, in other words. That said, it would not surprise me if a movie comes out in future that shows that very sequence as a key part of it’s plot.

  5. Get well sooner Neil. Sounds like a nasty bug indeed.

    My favorite tutorial on the garbage of polls is from Yes Prime Minister-

  6. The NYCFC article reminded me of the not-for-profit set up to provide parking for the Yankees. Since when is parking for a private enterprise a public good? Can’t wait to find out how much the public will pay for the new stadium.

  7. Moved them to Lakeland and make thier name Florida Ray’s it’s closer to Orlando where there is a bigger baseball fan based. Tampa is a little out there and traffic is a little tuff.

  8. On the mention about the soap opera surrounding the Tampa Rays’ stadium. Sports owners are certainly rich, but to suggest they aren’t intelligent is short sighted. There’s a reason they got wealthy. It doesn’t happen by accident.

    1. You clearly haven’t met enough rich people. Though Sternberg didn’t inherit his wealth like so many wealthy doofuses, so he at least had the smarts to hustle his way into a top spot at Goldman Sachs.

    2. There’s a lot of dumb luck out there. My favorite is example is the 1960’s articles for the Red Sox and the Cubs asking for new stadiums in the suburbs!

  9. I can’t help but think that NYCFC put out this news to play down the news that they are playing their concacaf game at RedBull Arena.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, at least on the timing.

      Btw, I’ve asked NYCFC whether “in the coming months” means “start the approvals process in the coming months” or “keep talking to people about how this all might work in the coming months,” but so far, crickets.

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