Friday roundup: Silver Knights face arena suit, Prokhorov seeks to ditch Nassau lease, journalism spirals the drain

Happy Friday, everybody! MLS has resumed play with an MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando (at least for all the teams other than the two that dropped out because they had too many coronavirus-positive players), and MLB starts its season next Thursday, and restarting sports leagues are soaking up all of the United States’ available testing capacity and ballplayers are getting called “pansies” for wearing masks to the grocery store. Also, another of the few remaining news outlets just laid off a ton of quality people, including several I used to work with, because journalism is one of the many nice things we apparently can’t have anymore.

If all that doesn’t cheer you up, here’s a passel of stadium-and-arena-related news that probably won’t do the trick either:

  • The Henderson city council voted unanimously yesterday to reject a petition seeking to overturn the city’s decision to spend $60 million on a minor-league hockey arena plus some other stuff, which should probably come as no surprise given that it’s the same council that voted to approve the Silver Knights arena in the first place. (The petitions were initially rejected because of a technicality about whether enough information was included on every page of the petition, but the council was under no obligation to consider the legal requirements rather than just voting for what they wanted to happen.) Petitioners could now seek to sue the city, which is how these things always seem to turn out.
  • Former Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is in negotiations to get out of his lease with Nassau County on the Nassau Coliseum, Nassau Executive Laura Curran revealed Tuesday. This could work out well for all concerned, or it could let Prokhorov get out of his lease obligations by having shut down the arena and held it hostage; the devil will be in the details of the talks, and Curran didn’t divulge anything about those.
  • The Palace of Auburn Hills, former home of the Detroit Pistons, got blowed up real good on Saturday, as one does when one is a 32-year-old sports arena in the early 21st century. And if you thought you already saw images several months ago of the Palace being torn down, that’s because you did, but history repeats itself, the second time with dynamite.
  • The Edmonton Oilers‘ four-year-old arena was partially flooded by a hailstorm, but don’t worry, the NHL says it will still be able to use it for its planned restart on August 1. Or maybe Edmonton will have to build another new arena in the next two weeks, it’s always hard to say with these things.
  • Fivethirtyeight tried to evaluate whether the Texas Rangers‘ new stadium is a better place to see a ballgame than their old one by overlaying one seating cross-section on the other and determining that the last row of seats is 33 feet closer to the field horizontally and only a few feet higher vertically, so that’s an improvement! Except that they failed to take into account that the new stadium has 8,000 fewer seats than the old one, so really you want to compare the worst seats in the new place to the 40,000th best seat in the old place, since the people in the last row of the old place will now be watching at home on TV. I remember when Nate Silver still made sure his writers did their math correctly, those were good times.
  • D.C. United is surveying fans to ask them if they’ll feel safe attending soccer matches in person later this summer, because who better to ask for advice about public health policy than random soccer fans?
  • Have you been missing sports columns about how your city needs to replace its arena despite not having a major-league team to play in it because the old one is a “graying ghost that is all but begging for a retirement cake” and besides even Tulsa has a newer one, oh the shame? The San Diego Union-Tribune is on it!
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10 comments on “Friday roundup: Silver Knights face arena suit, Prokhorov seeks to ditch Nassau lease, journalism spirals the drain

  1. My favorite line from the San Diego arena article:

    “Why not dangle a sizable carrot in front of developers who will be enriched by molding one of the most impressive available parcels in America.”

    And then the next paragraph suggests the ability to lure a Final Four without acknowledging that NCAA typically requires 70,000 seat domes for thoae events.

    1. The San Diego Arena is perfectly fine (it’s the last place I saw a sporting event live!) It’s not super fancy yes, but it does the job. Without the Gulls the place would sit empty most of the year since weather in San Diego means that the need for arena concerts is mitigated by the lack of need to be indoors except for like a month on Feb.

  2. I suppose the upside of testing athletes in the bubble is that it’s sort of a controlled experiment to gather some info about the spread, antibodies, etc.

    So maybe we glean something useful from this in the long run.

  3. The Rangers baseball club has only played 43 home games to a reported crowd of more than 40,000 (tickets distributed) in the past five years. It also appears that they have only played 43 away games to crowds that size over same period. That is 10.617% of games played over that span. This is tickets distributed. Not butts in seats.
    If you are going to complain about not considering the lost seats, you should at least consider how often “fan will be on couch” happens because of tickets available. The team has, according to baseball stat site some baseball stat site I found on google, only played 2 season where average tickets distributed has exceeded 40000 in the past forever years. They did it in 1994 and 2012.

    1. Fine, but that’s even more reason not to compare the 40,000th-best seat at the new stadium to the 48,000th-best seat at the old one.

      This is a common dodge for teams to claim that they’re moving seats closer to the field when they’re really not. The Mets’ new stadium, for example, was touted as having a much lower upper deck than Shea Stadium — but it also had 15,000 fewer seats, so the overall effect was of removing the entire top deck and then moving the remaining ones farther from the field, then calling this “intimate.”

      1. I didn’t know you could have both artificial scarcity and artificial intimacy. What a wonderful world.

  4. The Mets also put a lot more seats in fair territory, far away from where most of the action is on the field, between the pitcher and the catcher.

  5. Do you expect teams or leagues to admit that they are building smaller stadia because no one goes to games? The New York Mets only had three seasons in their history where average attendance exceeded capacity of Citi Field and all three were immediately preceding the move. Rarely do they approach capacity with standing room seats filled (ticket distributed, again). Claiming to make the experience more “intimate” or “fan-centered” are better reasons for change than “there are too many empty seats” and “we want to cut down on game day staff”.

    I doubt it has a big effect on fans or their attendance. Prices at the gate might be higher because of increased scarcity, but popular markets have enough brokers and season ticket “members” that you can get into a game cheap. When it was still thought that the season could be played, the Mets only had a few games on stubhub where it would cost more than $25 per person to get in (fees included; no idea where seat was or how many were available at lowest price). Thousands of seats were listed on stubhub alone for every Mets game. Price based competition ensued even in the now ageing smaller ballpark. The stadium is still big enough to meet demand for most games.

    1. Baseball stadiums have never drawn attendance sufficient to fill every seat for every game — the idea historically has been to build to fit the crowds for big games, and just don’t call in as many hot dog vendors to work on Tuesday nights in April. But it’s only the last couple of decades that team owners have gotten hip to the idea of artificial scarcity, where you deliberately size your stadium smaller than you can sell even for popular matchups, in the hopes that you’ll make your money back by hiking ticket prices. (The Red Sox pioneered this, though unintentionally, since they weren’t able to replace or significantly expand Fenway Park.)

      This is borne out by the numbers: Rob Arthur ran a regression analysis of MLB attendance last fall, and discovered that about 40% of the attendance drop was due to increased ticket prices, but that the price increases meant teams were making more money as a result:

  6. Since I’m fortunate enough to be a Las Vegas born and bred resident I can speak on the debacle and outright idiocy of politicians borrowing money for stadia that will never pay itself off. Allegiant Stadium came under the $2 billion budget yet the state already has a $10 million shortfall this year alone in paying the 33-year bond nut (we’re only in Year 3 of said nut). Henderson gifts the Raiders land well below market value for their practice facility and the Raiders flip it for $75 million. Couple that with record PSL sales and the Raiders can conceivably pay off the Bank of America nut and keep all the stadium revenue to themselves sans the relocation fees they have to pay to the NFL (which they will do by lowering their cut of the TV money).

    The state has 40% true unemployment and will rise as the workers recently recalled will be permanently let go (that’s what happens when your economy is predicated on disposable income from visitors), its unemployment agency (DETR) is broke and will run out of money in 3 weeks (not to mention is being sued for not paying unemployment benefits – remember, they are broke), the budget has a gaping $1.2 billion hole in it with no way of filling it without federal help (good luck with that), education is now dead last in every metric AND the superintendent of the 5th largest school district is on tape discussing ways to cook the books. Yet the governor of the state just issued $200 million in bonds to help fund a train from Las Vegas to Victorville, CA (so much for social distancing eh?). I haven’t even gotten to the $1.4 billion nut issued for a convention center expansion in which there will be no meetings held until mid-2021 at the earliest and how one of the largest gaming operators on the planet is furloughing thousands but rewarding bonuses to the top executives for a job well done.

    Animal Farm is coming sooner than people think.

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