Welp, that was another week. I know from comments that some of you think that the stadium and arena subsidy racket is about to come grinding to a halt, either because of the Covid economy or everybody already having a new enough stadium or something, but it sure looks like team owners didn’t get the memo — my RSS feeds are as hopping as they’ve ever been with tales of sports venue funding demands, and it’s still a rarity when local governments say no or even hmm, really? Check out this week’s roster, which, as yours truly predicted a couple of months ago, is especially jam-packed with minor-league baseball stadium plans:
- Hagerstown, Maryland, could get an Atlantic League baseball team to replace the vanished Suns, but only if the city first agrees to build “a facility that meets or exceeds the league’s standards” to replace its current 91-year-old ballpark. State Sen. Paul Corderman says he’ll propose a funding plan that won’t involve city money, and that he hoped the Maryland Stadium Authority will “take the lead” on managing and funding the facility, so expect Maryland taxpayers as a whole to be asked to write a check for undisclosed millions of dollars so that Hagerstown’s new indy-league team can have more modern cupholders — and maybe don’t look too hard at how that worked out for Atlantic League teams in New Jersey.
- The Hudson Valley Renegades, meanwhile, not only survived the Snap but got elevated from the now-vanished single-A New York-Penn League to the double-A Eastern League. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop demanding stadium upgrades, so the now-New York Yankees affiliate is asked Dutchess County for $1.44 million for upgraded lighting and a renovated home team clubhouse, or else. (Renegades owner Jeff Goldklang didn’t convey the “or else” to the county, but did email residents and fans warning them that the team could move if it doesn’t get the cash.) The Renegades’ stadium was opened in 1994 and already got $2.4 million in county money for upgrades in 2018, but if you can keep threatening to leave every so often, that’s a proven way to get what you want.
- The Knoxville city council and Knox County commission held a “workshop” with Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd about his demand for $65 million in public cash for a new downtown stadium; I haven’t watched the thing in its entirety because I’ve already had my fill of two-hour Zoom meetings this week, but one highlight pointed out by WATE-TV is that Boyd “has pledged to donate the land” for the development, which sounds generous until you realize that he would still get to use the land but would no longer have to pay property taxes on it because the city sports authority would technically own it. Pretty sneaky, Sis!
- Over in minor-league soccer, the proposed USL team in Pawtucket has agreed to accept only $50 million in state and city cash instead of the $70 million it had earlier demanded, now that it has downsized its planned surrounding development. That’s good news, I guess, but it’s still $50 million in subsidies for a $40 million soccer stadium, so maybe not quite excellent news just yet.
- The Worcester Business Journal has completed its assessment of why the Worcester Red Sox‘ new stadium saw its price tag soar from $100.8 million to $159.5 million, with the answer being pretty much oh crap, we decided to build on a hill. “That site isn’t ideal for a ballpark,” said Robert Brehm, a construction engineering professor at Drexel University. Oh well, guess nobody could have foreseen that! Maybe someday humankind will have developed tools to determine when one part of the Earth’s surface is higher than another, but until then these sorts of overruns will just be sadly unavoidable.
- Buffalo Business First, which is a bracingly honest title for a business journal, predicts that Covid budget cuts will make public funding for a new Buffalo Bills stadium less likely in the short term, but maybe more likely in the medium term as “politicians target regional projects to boost economic development.” That sure sounds about right, especially since Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been talking about building one for years even as the Bills owners have been lukewarm on the idea. Check back in next year’s State of the State address.
- The Indy Eleven, which moved out of then-36-year-old Carroll Stadium for the Indianapolis Colts stadium three years ago because they said it was obsolete for modern pro soccer, are moving back in because the Colts require “pandemic-related scheduling flexibility,” whatever that means. “During our first tenure at Carroll Stadium, the environment our fans created gave their Boys in Blue one of the best home-field advantages in all of American soccer,” said team CEO Greg Stremlaw. “We look forward to helping our supporters recreate that magic once again,” and then to get back to demanding a brand-new stadium, because magic gets old and wears out after a while, then you need to buy some new magic!
- Oh, right, it’s the Super Bowl again on Sunday, which means it’s time for another round of articles about how much the game does for its host city’s local economy, and then another round of articles showing how pretty much every economist on earth says that’s a load of hooey. I already did my time on this one, so who’s going to pick up the mantle this year — oh good, Noah Pransky has it covered, he’s excellent.
- And finally, no MLS lockout just yet, but one could be arriving at any moment. If there’s another thing that people keep predicting will die out but which never does, it’s team owners trying to extract every last dollar from their employees to boost their profits. Fortunately Marc Normandin has that covered, he’s excellent.