This was another shitty week in what feels like an endless series of shitty weeks, but with one undeniable bright spot: On Tuesday, the former staffers of Deadspin announced the launch of Defector, a new site that will be everything the old Deadspin was — sports and news reporting and commentary “without access, without favor, without discretion” — but this time funded by subscriptions and staff-owned, so safe from the threat of new private-equity owners decreeing that they stop doing everything that made the site both popular and worthwhile. I’ve already explained why I thought Deadspin desperately mattered for anyone who cares about sports’ role in our greater lives, or just likes great writing that makes you both laugh and think; you can read here my own contributions to the old site before its implosion (not sure why the article search function is listing every article as written by Barry Petchesky, who knows what the private-equity people are up to). Needless to say, launching a DIY journalism site in the middle of the collapse of the entire journalism business model is an inherently risky prospect, so if you want to give the Defector team a bit more of a financial foundation to work from, you can subscribe now. I already have.
But enough good news, let’s get on with the parade of sadness and horror:
- In the wake of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers getting $10 million in federal Covid relief cash to upgrade their stadium with a new sound system and touch-free sinks, the mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire is requesting that the state allocate $1 million in federal funds to help the New Hampshire Fisher Cats pay their rent to the city on their currently shuttered stadium. This is a trend that seems likely to continue, if only because there’s a lot of moral hazard inherent in cities and states getting to spend federal money on things that otherwise might cost them from their own budgets, so worth keeping an eye on; sure would be nice if there were a central accounting of where all the money is going, but naaaaah.
- St. Petersburg issued a request for proposals to redevelop the Tropicana Field site, notwithstanding that Tropicana Field is still on it and set to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays until at least 2027. Developers are being asked to submit by next January flexible plans that can accommodate either keeping the stadium or getting rid of it; still, you know this is going to encourage Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to step up his “if you want me to allow redevelopment of the stadium site before 2027 then let me out of my lease to move some games to Montreal” play, if only because it’s pretty much the only play he has.
- A Portuguese marketing expert expects that more than 15,000 European soccer fans are going to show up in Portugal just to hang out in the general proximity of the Champions League games being played there next month, and this is … a good thing? Because they’ll spend money? And not, say, spread virus? Also it will give Portugal “a visibility around the world” as a place that is “able to provide the right standards and the right level of security, mainly about health security,” such as by letting tens of thousands of fans congregate to celebrate the games, yep, this is totally a win-win!
- No other baseball players have tested positive for Covid in the wake of the Miami Marlins outbreak, but one Philadelphia Phillies coach and one clubhouse staffer did, so the Phillies will now be taking an enforced time out through the weekend along with the Marlins. Also, MLB yesterday ordered teams to establish compliance officers to make sure players don’t go out on the town and keep their masks on, because “better late than never” is apparently the motto of 2020. (And even while I was typing that, the St. Louis Cardinals postponed tonight’s game after someone with the team — reportedly two players — tested positive. Pandemics come at you fast.)
- The NFL’s chief medical officers has looked at baseball’s mess and concluded that putting on an NFL season will be “challenging,” and players will certainly test positive and have to be quarantined, but declined to give any details of what the rules would be if that happened, because that is most definitely the lesson everyone should take from MLB’s experience.
- News organizations are having to pay $550 a day to embed reporters in the NBA’s “bubble,” so if you want to help amortize those costs by reading the Deseret News’s blow-by-blow report on what parking is like at an arena closed to fans, it will no doubt be greatly appreciated.
- Bond rating agencies are starting to downgrade bonds sold to finance the construction of existing stadiums and arenas, which makes sense since a lot of them depend on tourist taxes and other consumer revenues, and tourism and local consumption is all but dead. What will be more interesting is to see whether this impacts the bond ratings — and interest rates — sports teams can get for future projects, which will likely be based on projection of future revenues, and which remain TBD.
- The Washington Post’s sports department took it upon itself to wildly speculate on how the pandemic will change sports long-term, and came up with a mixed bag of prognostications from the hopeful (the Olympics and its associated graft will crumble to dust) to the wishcasty (college sports will change its exploitative financial model because reasons) to the morbid (football players gonna die! even more than football players already gonna die!). I refuse to play this game in a world where our entire understanding of reality seems to change every couple of weeks, but I will say that I am extremely interested to see how sports team owners, sports team fans, and sports team–lovin’ elected officials respond once this crisis begins to ease; business as usual resumed pretty smoothly after the Great Recession, and everyone involved has a lot of lucrative reasons to do the same this time, but seismic historic shifts do happen, so, we’ll just have to wait and see. (How’s that for hedging? Hey, I accurately predicted that seven-inning games would become a thing in major-league baseball, that’s plenty for one year.)
- There are new New York Islanders arena renderings, but before you get too excited, they’re mostly just the old renderings with the new naming-rights sponsor’s logo splashed across them. They didn’t even spell out the sponsor’s name in the sky in fireworks, harrumph.