Too much going on this week to have time for more than a brief intro, but I do want to note that “’Company announces advertising campaign’ is not a story, no matter how easily that campaign can be metabolized by the publications it’s aimed at” is something that should be tattooed on the foreheads of all journalists, even if it is a quote from an article about Pantone colors.
And now, how sports team owners and their friends are trying to rip you off this week:
- Phoenix Rising F.C., which has been talking about building a new stadium for a while, apparent broke ground on one weeks ago and nobody noticed until they announced it yesterday. The new stadium, to be built on Gila River Indian Community land, will “increase stadium seating by more than 35%” (their current stadium, a popup model erected in Scottsdale on the cheap, holds 6,200, so that would imply about 8,370 seats in the new place) and feature such amenities as “permanent restrooms,” and is supposed to be ready by May 2021, so we’re probably still talking off-the-rack bleachers that can be installed quickly. “No funding or cost details were given,” reports the Arizona Republic, but “no budget was exceeded from the Gila River Indian Community side,” according to a Gila River exec, whatever that means. Also no word on whether the soccer complex will still include a robot dog showroom, but new renderings show it will at least have a giant soccer ball in the parking lot — hey wait, in this rendering it’s missing! Somebody get on this breaking story, stat!
- More fallout from yesterday’s minor-league baseball decimation announcement: San Antonio judge/stadium booster/stadium namesake Nelson Wolff blamed the Missions‘ demotion to Double-A as being “because nothing could ever get done on a new stadium”; bwahahaha, this is going just as baseball’s barons planned it!
- Also, the new stadium complex of the Northern Colorado Owlz (formerly the Orem Owlz, spelled that way to honor the Utah Jazz, which were named for the favorite musical style of, uh, New Orleans) will bring in “roughly 1 million to 1.2 million visitors annually,” according to a city official, despite the Owlz having been relegated to an indie league that may or may not survive for long.
- Also also, the recently-demoted Fresno Grizzlies got a $400,000-a-year rent break from the city of Fresno this week, in exchange for reducing the city’s capital improvement fund contributions by $250,000 a year and the team sharing $52,500 a year in naming-rights money with the city, which still seems like a pretty bad deal for taxpayers. It’s a percentage deal, 15% of naming rights revenue over $650,000, so Fresno could break even on this if a new naming-rights contract comes to, let’s see … $1.65 million a year. For a now-Single-A team’s stadium. Good luck with that.
- And also also also, for those wondering “Why can’t cast-adrift minor-league teams just go independent and dispense with an MLB affiliation?” (you know who you are, you in the comments), a minority owner of one eliminated team that turned down an MLB Draft League spot told me (asking for anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak for the franchise) that when they crunched the numbers, they figured out that they’d have to sell nearly 3,000 tickets a game plus get lease breaks from their home city to make it work. And the economics would presumably only be worse for a full indie league, where the players would actually have to be paid.
- If you were wondering what ever happened with the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ $200 million Lot J development subsidy vote, Jags execs agreed to a delay until January after realizing they didn’t have enough votes on the council to force one sooner. Meanwhile, city councilmember Randy DeFoor asked for Jaguars owner Shad Khan to agree to repay $150 million of the money if the team moves when their lease expires in 2030, calling it “insulting, quite frankly, that you wouldn’t agree to that”; team president Mark Lamping replied that Khan’s “actions speak for themselves” in his commitment to the Jaguars “playing in Jacksonville forever,” so why muddy up these vague promises with enforceable contract language, right?
- The new operator of the Nassau Coliseum is telling investors to put their money into his other projects because the arena “generates little to no revenue, and it continues to lose substantial sums of money each month.” The county should definitely keep giving this guy rent breaks, you can’t buy word-of-mouth like this! Or wouldn’t want to, I always get those two mixed up.
- In non-sports subsidy news, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos got “tens of millions of dollars” in Opportunity Zone tax breaks for their private spaceship programs, and Tom Brady got almost $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program money and then went and bought a giant boat, and if you haven’t figured out yet that even broadly available government business relief programs get snapped up first by the wealthiest and most-connected people, I don’t know what else I can say to convince you.
- New England Revolution owner Bob Kraft still wants a soccer-only stadium in Boston “eventually,” check, same as it ever was.
- Inter Miami‘s stadium is going to host a sports management school starting next June, and no, I can’t tell if this will be under the bleachers or out on the pitch to help with social distancing, assuming we still need that then.
- Someone in Las Vegas crashed his drone into the Raiders‘ stadium last month, damaged a panel worth $5,000–$8,000, asked the security guard for his drone back, then drove off in a BMW rental car. This really has nothing to do with stadium subsidies, but I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed typing that sentence.