Friday roundup: Drumming clowns, vaporgondolas, and the XFL rises shambling from its dusty grave

The magnets have shipped! Repeat: The magnets have shipped! If you want to get in on this, act now, or you might have to wait until I make my second trip to the post office.

This was an extra-busy news week, which felt like a bit of a return to normalcy after several months of sports team owners mostly focusing more on getting back on the field than on getting money to pay for new fields. But life can’t be put on hold forever, and by “life” I mean “grubbing for someone else’s cash,” because what is life if not that? (Answers may differ if you are not a sports team owner.)

Here’s a bunch more stuff that happened than what already made FoS this week:

  • That protest to call for the New York Yankees to pay their fair share of taxes or maybe just bail out local struggling businesses only drew about 10-15 people, according to, but also “clowns playing a drum on stilts.” The site’s accompanying video features less than two seconds of drum-playing stilt clowns, and a whole lot of 161st Street BID director Cary Goodman talking about the plight of local businesses, and while I know Cary and he apparently paid for the clowns, I still say that this is a dereliction of journalistic duty.
  • Along those same lines, the gondola company owned by former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has reportedly released new renderings of its proposed gondola to Dodger Stadium, but does NBC Los Angeles show us any of them? No, it does not. (I so yearn to see Cab-Hailing Purse Woman cast off her foam finger and hail a gondola.) We do learn that “the gondola system could move up to 5,500 people per hour in each direction, meaning more than 10,000 fans could be transported to Dodger Stadium in the two hours before the start of a game or event,” which seems to misunderstand how people arrive at baseball games, which at Dodger Stadium is mostly all at once in the third inning, and even more misunderstand how people leave baseball games, which is all at once when they’re over, at which point there would suddenly be a two-hour-long line for the gondola. McCourt’s L.A. Aerial Rapid Transit company says it will pay the project’s $125 million cost, but even if true — and you know I’m always skeptical when people ask for public-private partnerships but promise there will be no public money — that doesn’t make this much less of a crazy idea.
  • The XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats might have to share their stadium this spring with a college football team, and, wait, didn’t the XFL fold? I swear the XFL folded. Oh, I see now that The Rock bought it, so: In the unlikely event that the XFL gets going again, its L.A. team will have to share digs with a college football team playing in the spring. Honestly having to use a football stadium more than 10 days a year just seems like efficient use of space to me, but sports leagues do get gripey about scheduling, even sports leagues that barely exist.
  • That Palm Springs arena being built by AEG now won’t be built in Palm Springs after all, but rather nearby Palm Desert, because the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, whose land was going to be used for the project, decided after Covid hit to “reevaluate what was going on just like most other businesses because they had so many other projects,” whatever that means. Given that the Palm Springs police and fire departments said they’d need tens of millions of dollars to provide services for the new arena, I think it’s safe to say that Palm Springs just dodged a bullet here.
  • The San Francisco 49ers are finally paying rent again to the city of Santa Clara, after initially trying to get out of it because their two exhibition games at home were canceled.
  • This Athletic article about the attempts in the 1980s and ’90s to save Tiger Stadium is paywalled and is not nearly as comprehensive as the entire chapter about the same subject in Field of Schemes, but it does have some nice quotes from Tiger Stadium Fan Club organizers Frank Rashid and Judy Davids (the latter of whom worked on a renovation plan for the stadium that would have cost a fraction of a new one, a scale model for which I once slept in the same room with when she and her husband/co-designer John put me up at their house during a FoS book tour), so by all means give it a read if you can.
  • If you’re wondering how $5.6 billion in subsidies for a new high-end residential/office/mall development in Manhattan is working out now that Covid has both residents and offices moving out of Manhattan, I reported on it for Gothamist and discovered the unsurprising answer: really not well at all.
  • The KFC Yum! Center in Louisville’s naming rights are about to expire, but KFC is talking about signing an extension, so with any luck we have many more years ahead of us to make fun of the name “KFC Yum! Center.”
  • That’s not how you spell “ESPN,” Minneapolis-St.Paul Business Journal.
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3 comments on “Friday roundup: Drumming clowns, vaporgondolas, and the XFL rises shambling from its dusty grave

  1. Ah yes, the Tiger Stadium Fan Club.

    I still have my TSFC t-shirt and wear it occasionally. Simple block lettering on the back of the shirt, but a nice little stylized black silhouette of the ballpark on the front with the grass in bright green in the middle being the only color.

    Drove up to Detroit in 1999 to see the ballpark in its last season. Walking up to the stadium with my cross-country road trip friend, I got into a conversation with a grandfather and his college age son. Granddad found out we didn’t have tickets yet and he offered us a couple extra tickets to us for half off.

    Not knowing yet the particular numbered sections/map of the stadium I asked him if the tickets were in a good location. His response was that “they are the best seats in the house…they are next to us”.

    We took the tickets.

  2. Neil: I read your article and it is accurate. That said, what happened with Hudson Yards should shock no one. The financial problems involving real state and Construction in New York have been going on long before the virus ( this just sped things up). Look at the 9/11 site. They will finally finish the Orthodox Church and Performance Arts Center 20 years after the attack, and 2 World Trade Center still has not had work begun on it ( let alone had it finished). Why? Bureaucracy coupled with demands for Taj Majal type facilities such as the World Trade Center Train Station and the Church. The church is a perfect example of this: Almost no one ( including myself who went to the site countless times prior to 9/11), even knew it existed, it was such a small site. But after 9/11 they had the “Need” to basically create a St Patrick’s Cathedral type facility there.. Look at the cost of building Yankee Stadium and the money pit called East Side Access that was supposed to be finished 5 years ago as other examples of this. Now NYC and the MTA want bailout ( guess what so does every hard hit city in America). But guess what? Until attitudes change things will only get worse.

    1. There are plenty of construction projects in NYC that have proceeded quickly — just look at the downtown Brooklyn skyline. What’s held up Hudson Yards hasn’t been “bureaucracy” but economics: First the 2008 crash, and now Covid (and before that a flattening-out of Manhattan residential demand because the place had finally run out of insanely rich people to market to). As noted in my article, Related was backing away from a 2024 opening for the Phase 2 project as early as last year, and now it seems very unlikely it gets built anytime soon.

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