Manfred meets with Sanders about minor-league contraction, mumbles promise of “solutions” that will make everyone happy somehow

Now here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to be writing this week: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred met with U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday to talk about MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league affiliates. Afterwards, Manfred issued a statement to the press:

Blah blah importance of professional baseball to communities blah blah obligation to local communities to ensure that public money spent on Minor League stadiums is done so prudently blah blah blah safe playing facilities blah blah we remain confident that solutions can be reached that satisfy the interests of all stakeholders.

In other words, there is no reason this cannot be all things to all people just because some people want the teams to stay and others want them to go away, why would you even think that?

Sanders replied something about how Manfred is “open to solutions” and added that he and other members of Congress will be “carefully monitoring the progress of negotiations on behalf of fans.” So yeah, the public statements at least are just a pro forma “we talked” notice, with no indication that any particular action will result. That’s likely going to turn on how careful that Congressional monitoring is, and how close it cuts to a potential revision of MLB’s antitrust exemption, which was put in place by the Supreme Court but which Congress can overturn with legislation — that Manfred found it necessary even to meet with Sanders shows he’s concerned about this, but that he issued such a perfunctory mealy-mouthed statement afterwards suggests that he’s not all that concerned, not yet, anyway.

Pawtucket proposes $70m-plus in tax kickbacks for $45m USL stadium

There’s a winner in the competition to build on the riverfront site where the Pawtucket Red Sox turned up their noses at building a new stadium, and it’s … the crazy soccer stadium complex with the mountains in the background! (Helpfully blurred out in the latest rendering.) And according to the Providence Journal, while the USL stadium itself would only cost $45 million, the bigger project would stand to make a lot more than that in tax kickbacks:

The stadium would be the first piece of a larger, multi-part, mixed-use project Fortuitous is calling “Tidewater Landing,” that would take advantage of federal “Opportunity Zone” tax breaks…

The plan hinges on approximately $70 million to $90 million in public support, most of it from the state through a “tax increment financing” plan that allows the developer to use a portion of new tax revenue generated around the development to pay for construction. That total includes infrastructure like the pedestrian bridge, public parks and river walks on both banks of the Seekonk.

The bigger project includes 200 apartments, 100,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a 200-room hotel with an “indoor sports event center,” and 200,000 square feet of office space, though it’s not clear whether all of that needs to be built in order for the tax subsidies to kick in. Also not clear: Where all of that $70-90 million would come from — the Journal says only $10 million would come from the city, so would some of it be state sales tax kickbacks? (Or maybe they mean that it would be $10 million in cash and the rest in tax increment financing, which somehow isn’t “city money” because Casino Night.) Also, why wouldn’t it require state legislative approval even if this would be a state-designated tax redirection zone. So many questions that the Journal could have answered, or at least asked!

All in all, this Pawtucket plan exemplifies a whole bunch of trends in the modern stadium game: throwing money at pro soccer because there’s a seemingly infinite number of available expansion franchises there (both in MLS and in the lower-level USL), providing public money via TIFs because it’s easier to pretend this is new money generated by the project even when it’s not, and the “kitchen sink” approach where you throw as many unrelated items into a development project as possible in order the muddy the financial waters to where everyone just throws up their hands at figuring out who’s being subsidized for what. Plus Opportunity Zones, the Trump-created tax break that is so confusing even tax experts aren’t sure how exactly it will end up working, and the ever-more-popular model of approving sports subsidies without legislative oversight. It’s the perfect crime. Er, downtown development project. I surely don’t know why I typed “crime.”

Friday roundup: Congress gets riled up over minor-league contraction, Calgary official proposes redirecting Flames cash, plus what’s the deal with that Star Trek redevelopment bomb anyway?

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers, who if they haven’t yet may want to read the New Yorker’s thoughtful takedown of the myths that the holiday was built on. Or there’s always the movie version, which has fewer historical details but is shorter and features a singing turkey.

And speaking of turkeys, how are our favorite stadium and arena deals faring this holiday week?

The vaportecture artists just aren’t even trying anymore, man

We’ve been over a lot of bad stadium renderings on this site — stadiums with two sports being played at once, stadiums with people walking on snow-covered ice rinks in street shoes, stadiums where fans stare at trees. But this latest from the Worcester Red Sox (previous home of the tree starer), just come on:

What… what is even happening here? At first glance, it looks like the WooSox are proposing a stadium where all of the seating is in the outfield, the better to protect fans from the horrific sight of 30-foot-tall toddlers rampaging across the infield. Or it’s possible that’s some kind of baseball-field-themed play park out in the outfield behind the scoreboard — this image suggests maybe that’s the case — but even so, the people walking on it are wildly out of scale, even with each other, and also there appears to be nothing stopping them from just tumbling onto the real field in the background. I’m also not sure what purpose those frosted-glass turnstiles are supposed to serve, or what happened to the feet (or eyes, nose, and mouth) of that poor woman in the foreground. It’s like someone was left in the rendering room with a bunch of Colorforms and no supervision, and then the results were sent directly to the press.

Then there’s this, which MassLive helpfully captioned “Polar Park will offer a berm seating location the left centerfield”:

From the other images, I’m guessing that’s supposed to be a grassy slope with the outfield wall at the bottom, a wall that’s made up of some kind of blue rocks topped with a divider from Atari Adventure.

Of course, it’s always possible that the MassLive caption editors are trolling us, when you consider that this image is captioned “The Summit Street Fair located in Polar Park will offer year-round and nightly activities for patrons visiting the area in Worcester”:

Look, we all know that renderers are overworked by clients with no particular interest in quality control, so I’m willing to cut them some slack here. But why on earth did MassLive choose to run all of these horrific images, under the uncritical (if possibly trolly, everything starts to look possibly sarcastic if you stare at it long enough) headline “New Polar Park details include a heart-shaped clock, smiley foul poles and year-round nightlife”? (Yes, I didn’t even get to the smiley-face-topped foul poles.) Is this the dystopian future we now live in, where everyone just sighs and does whatever the money people ask for, while hoping that readers will be smart enough to laugh instead of taking it seriously? Do they even care if people take it seriously, so long as the checks clear? I think we may finally have arrived at that Hobbesian grift of all against all that we’ve been waiting for, people.

Congress to MLB on minor-league contraction: You remember us, right, the ones with control over your antitrust exemption?

Yesterday more than 100 members of Congress, many of them representing cities that would lose minor-league teams under MLB’s minor-league contraction plan, issued an open letter to MLB expressing their “firm opposition” to the plan and urging the league to “strongly reconsider” it. And as NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra notes, the letter includes an implicit threat:

The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs. We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives.

For over a century, Congress has taken numerous actions specifically designed to protect, preserve, and sustain a system and structure for both Major and Minor League Baseball to flourish.

That’s not an outright “We’re gonna hold hearings on rescinding your antitrust exemption if you go through with this,” and in any event even 100+ members of Congress isn’t anywhere near a majority. Still, MLB clearly got Congress’s attention with this, which makes the contraction gambit an even weirder strategy: Is it really worth risking the league’s nearly 100-year-old antitrust exemption just to save a few hundred thousand dollars per franchise in minor-league salaries? Maybe MLB figures it can negotiate a compromise (read: buy off representatives who are leading the charge by sparing their teams) or that Congress will have bigger fish to fry in 2020 and won’t bother with them — trying to understand the motivations of a roomful of rich dudes is always a tough call, especially when they often turn out to be thinking with the wrong parts of their anatomy.

Queensboro FC still vague on how its stadium on a public university campus will work

Ever since last Tuesday’s announcement that New York City would be getting a new USL team called Queensboro F.C. in 2021, I’ve been trying to figure out where exactly this second-tier (soccer’s term for the top minor league) team would play. That was the holdup when the franchise was first rumored last winter, and while last week’s announcement mentioned a “new, modular stadium at York College in Queens that will have a capacity of around 7,500,” none of the news outlets appeared to have actually called York College to see who would build it or where it would go, important questions given that the campus, though conveniently located right by a major subway terminal, isn’t exactly bursting with huge swathes of vacant land.

So, I called. And was directed to a press spokesperson for the City University of New York school, who said she’d get back to me with a statement from the school’s president, but couldn’t “promise it will be today.” That was Thursday; it’s now Tuesday, and still no statement has been forthcoming.

I next tried the team itself, whose press representative told me yesterday they’d be back to me “shortly”; I’m still waiting. After that, it was on to city councilmember Francisco Moya, who has helped shepherd the team into existence and declared himself one of its first fans, whose communications director actually replied:

Queensboro FC will be playing in a modular stadium, which will be 100 percent privately funded through the club. The City is not involved in the arrangement between QBFC and York College.

That is slightly more of an answer, but not much of one. Where will this stadium be built? Does a “modular stadium” just mean a bunch of temporary bleachers that can be taken down and stored away when York College needs to use its track? Is York College being paid anything for use of its land? And does the public university have to get any city or state permissions before repurposing public land?

These are all kind of important questions, and it’s reflective of the sad state of journalism in this city (and in this country, and on this planet) that no one seems to have asked them — or, worse, has asked them and when they didn’t get answers, didn’t bother to mention that in their articles. (It’s also sad that an entire minor-league baseball team in Staten Island has been marked for elimination, and none of the city press has deigned to report on borough residents’ thoughts on that — or has just forgotten that Staten Island is a part of New York City, which is a thing that happens.) I’ll report back here if I learn of anything to add, but in the meantime: Friends don’t let friends reprint sports team owner press releases without at least trying to check their facts, okay?

MLB’s minor league hit list would kill 42 teams that cities spent hundreds of millions on stadiums for

The list of 42 minor league baseball teams targeted for elimination by Major League Baseball has leaked, and let’s get right to the names marked for death:

  • Appalachian League (advanced Rookie): Bluefield Blue Jays, Bristol Pirates, Burlington Royals, Danville Braves, Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals, Kingsport Mets, Princeton Rays
  • California League (advanced A): Lancaster Jethawks
  • Carolina League (advanced A): Frederick Keys
  • Eastern League (Double-A): Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Erie SeaWolves
  • Florida State League (advanced A): Daytona Tortugas, Florida Fire Frogs
  • Midwest League (full-season A): Burlington Bees, Clinton LumberKings, Quad Cities River Bandits
  • New York-Penn League (short-season A): Auburn Doubledays, Batavia Muckdogs, Connecticut Tigers, Lowell Spinners, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, Staten Island Yankees, Vermont Lake Monsters, Williamsport Crosscutters
  • Northwest League (short-season A): Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Tri-City Dust Devils 
  • Pioneer League (advanced Rookie): Billings Mustangs, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors, Orem Owlz, Rocky Mountain Vibes
  • Southern League (Double-A): Chattanooga Lookouts, Jackson Generals
  • South Atlantic League (full-season A): Hagerstown Suns, Lexington Legends, West Virginia Power 

Or, if you prefer, here’s a map:

In addition, many surviving teams would need to switch leagues: The Brooklyn Cyclones will reportedly make the leap all the way to Double-A to replace Binghamton, while other survivors of the NY-Penn League would join with join with remnants of the South Atlantic League in a new mid-Atlantic league. (I haven’t seen reporting yet on who’d shift levels to replace Erie or the two Southern League teams.) The Pioneer League would be eliminated entirely, while only the Pulaski Yankees would escape the flaming ruins of the Appalachian League.

If all this looks like a mish-mash of teams in smaller cities, teams in not-as-brand-new stadiums, and teams far from major league affiliates, that’s apparently exactly what it is. According to both published reports and sources I’ve spoken to, the downsizing plan was first concocted in the front office of the Houston Astros, the franchise most dedicated to using advanced techniques to gain a competitive edge, even if it means breaking the rules. As the Astros execs’ thinking went, advanced analytics (i.e., grading players based on such things as using high-speed cameras to measure body mechanics) could replace watching young players play actual baseball, saving the trouble of having to pay so many of them to do so. (Not that this is a huge expense — an entire single-A roster can be had for about $600,000 a year — but again, the Astros are all about exploiting every advantage.) And while Houston execs could and did reduce their minor-league affiliates on their own, from nine teams to seven, why should they have to compete against teams like the New York Yankees whose owners were willing to keep minor league teams stacked up like cordwood?

According to the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow quickly found support from two other team GMs, David Stearns of the Brewers and Mike Elias of the Orioles, who had previously worked for him in Houston. And other team execs quickly realized that eliminating minor league teams could have other benefits as well: It could allow MLB to force realignments so that their affiliates would be closer geographically, enable the elimination of teams whose stadiums weren’t seen as up to par, and potentially provide increased franchise fees from teams whose owners wished to survive. Plus, if minor leaguers are going to insist in court on being paid minimum wage, that would go down a lot more smoothly if each franchise only had four minor league payrolls to cover. The contraction proposal, reports Madden, passed 30-0 in a vote of MLB teams earlier this year.

The eliminated franchise owners wouldn’t be entirely SOL: They could apply to join a newly formed “Dream League,” an ill-formed proposal that would involve wannabe pro players somehow being allocated to nearby leagues — “we can fill rosters with players from local markets,” Morgan Sword, MLB senior vice president of league economics and operations, enthused to the New York Times — that would receive cash subsidies from MLB, but would otherwise be on the hook for paying their own player payrolls. Minor league officials are doubtful many franchises could afford to operate on such a basis, with one unnamed source telling the Times a Dream League would be a “death sentence” for clubs, and another speculating that at best 10 of the 42 teams could survive.

And what would all of this mean for the cities that have supported minor league baseball by erecting stadiums, partly or entirely at public cost, to ensure the presence of a team? Just as a small sampling: New York City spent $71 million to build a ballpark for the Staten Island Yankees in 2001; Jackson spent $8 million on a stadium for the Generals in 1998, and has additionally chipped in $500,000 a year in operating subsidies since then; the SeaWolves just got $12 million in state money and the Rumble Ponies just received $5 million in state and city funds for upgrades to their ballparks. Chattanooga, meanwhile, has been discussing a new stadium to replace the Lookouts’ current one, which will turn an ancient 20 years old next year; that’ll presumably be off the agenda if there’s no team, but who’s to say that MLB won’t allow new applicants to the slimmed-down minor league register, if they come with snazzy enough stadium plans and a lucrative enough fee? Madden reports that “for over a year now, MLB has been asking Minor League teams to lobby their state governors and legislatures to enact legislation allotting ‘integrity fees’ — a percentage of the baseball gambling revenue in their states — that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for MLB,” and suggests that local officials won’t take too kindly to that if teams are being eliminated, but who’s to say if they’ll consider them if it would remove their teams from the hit list?

What is certain, if this plan reaches fruition, is lawsuits, and plenty of them: Teams, cities, and concessionaires alike could all sue MLB, since wiping out teams would mean abrogating tons of long-term leases and contracts that are in place. (“My God, we’ll be sued all over the place from these cities that have built or refurbished ballparks with taxpayer money, and this will really put our anti-trust exemption in jeopardy,” Madden reports an unnamed MLB official as saying. “It’s crazy.”) The Yankees could technically sue as well, given that they only granted permission for the Cyclones’ existence in their territory in exchange for being granted a Staten Island club in the same league, though if they voted for the plan, presumably that’s not in the cards.

This is all still just a preliminary negotiating proposal, mind you, and there is a ton still to hash out before the MLB-MiLB operating agreement is rewritten sometime next year. (The Winter Meetings from December 8–12 are bound to be hopping with plans and counterplans; anyone feel like crowdfunding me a trip to San Diego?) But by establishing its intentions and sending out the message that all that’s left is to haggle over the details, MLB is clearly in a position to get minor league team owners thinking about how they can buy their way off that list; I can’t fathom a guess as to how this all will end, except that it will almost certainly be really, really ugly and benefit those with the most cash to burn, because that’s how monopoly capitalism always functions.

Friday roundup: Developers pay locals $25 each to hold pro-arena signs, a smoking and farting winged horse team logo, and do you even need a third thing after those two?

It’s been another week of pretty bad news, topped off by a private equity firm somehow buying the entirety of .org domains, meaning every nonprofit website will now have to be licensed from an entity whose sole mission is to squeeze as much money from them as possible. The stadium and arena news, by contrast, isn’t all terrible, so maybe it qualifies as cheery? You be the judge:

  • The Richmond city council voted Tuesday to put off a decision on a $1.5 billion downtown development that would include a new arena (public cost: $350 million), after a contentious hearing where both supporters and opponents held signs espousing their opinions. Or espousing somebody’s opinions, anyway: Some locals holding “yes” signs later reported that the project’s developers paid them $25 a pop to do so. City council president Michelle Mosby replied that if anything people were just reimbursed gas money, which 1) only makes sense if everyone there drove their own car and had to travel like 250 miles round trip to get to the hearing and 2) isn’t really any less corrosive of democracy anyway.
  • If you’ve been wondering how Inter Miami plans to build a temporary 18,000-seat stadium in Fort Lauderdale (later to be turned into a practice field) between now and March and figured it would have to involve throwing up a bunch of cheap metal bleachers, now there’s video of construction workers doing exactly that. Also laying down the sod for the field, which I thought usually takes place after the stadium is more or less built, but I guess if they can build the stadium without treading on the field, no harm in doing so now. This all raises questions of whether the stadium will feel excessively crappy, and if not why more soccer teams can’t just build cheap quickie stadiums like this without the need for public money; I guess we’ll know the answer by springtime one way or another.
  • When the state of Minnesota agreed to pay for the Vikings‘ new stadium with cigarette revenue after electronic pulltab gambling money didn’t come in as expected, it still kept collecting the gambling cash; and now that e-pulltabs (which are just lottery tickets, only on a tablet) have taken off, there’s debate over what to do with the cash that the state is collecting, about $5 million this year but projected to rise to $51 million by 2023. The Vikings owners want the money used to pay off their stadium debt early, while some lawmakers would like to use the revenue to fund other projects or reduce taxes on charitable gambling institutions now that it’s no longer needed — all are valid options, but it’s important to remember that the state already paid for most of the stadium, this is just arguing over what to do with the zombie tax that was left over after the financing plan was changed. (It would also be nice to know if e-pulltab gambling has cannibalized revenues from other gambling options, thus making this less of a windfall, but modern journalists have no time for such trivialities.)
  • The city of Wichita is spending $77 million (plus free land) on a Triple-A baseball stadium to steal the Baby Cakes from New Orleans, and have been rewarded with the Wichita Wind Surge, a name that’s supposed to reference the city’s aviation history or something but actually means “storm surge,” which isn’t a thing that they have in landlocked Kansas? It also features a logo that looks like a horse and a fly got caught in a transporter accident, which the team’s designer explained with “The nice thing about Pegasus, however, to me, was the fact that it’s got a horse in there.” A local designer responded with a sketch of a winged horse smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, and farting, which by all accounts is much more popular with Wichitans. (The sketch is, I mean, though I’d love to see a poll asking Wichitans, “Which do you prefer, the name Wichita Wind Surge or farting?”)
  • San Diego State University’s plan to buy the city’s old football stadium and its surrounding land for $87.7 million has hit some “speed bumps,” namely that city economists have determined that the price could be below the land’s market value and $10 million of the sale price would have to be set aside for infrastructure improvements for the university’s development. “There’s also the matter of the $1-per-month lease that, as proposed, may not adequately protect the city from expenses or legal risk,” notes the San Diego Union-Tribune. Given all these uncertainties, the city’s independent budget analyst called SDSU’s proposed March 27 deadline “very challenging,” not that that’s stopped city councils before.
  • Saskatoon has enough room under its debt limit to finance either a new central library or a new sports arena, and regardless of what you think of how badly Saskatooners need a new library, it’s still a pretty strong example of how opportunity costs work.
  • The Phoenix Suns‘ new practice facility being built with the help of public money will include a golf simulator for players, because of course it will.
  • Speaking of Phoenix, the Arizona Republic has revealed what the Diamondbacks owners want in a new stadium; the original article is paywalled, but for once Ballpark Digest‘s propensity for just straight-up paraphrasing other sites’ reporting comes in handy, revealing that team owners want a 36,000-  to 42,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof and surrounded by a 45- to 70-acre mixed-use development and a 5,000-seat concert venue and good public transit and full control of naming-rights revenue and public cost-sharing on ballpark repairs. And a pony.
  • Will Raiders football hike your home value?” asks the Nevada Current, apparently because “Is the moon made of green cheese?” had already been taken.
  • And last but certainly not least, your weekly vaportecture roundup: The New Orleans Saints‘ $450 million renovation of the Superdome (two-thirds paid for by taxpayers) will include field-level open-air end zone spaces where fans have ample room enjoy rendered people’s propensity for flinging their arms in the air! The new Halifax Schooners stadium designs lack the woman hailing a cab and players playing two different sports at once from previous renderings, but do seem to still allow fans to just wander onto the field if they want! It should come as no surprise to anyone that even Chuck D can do a better job of drawing than this.

Every city in U.S. now building a soccer stadium, or at least it seems like it

Some days it seems like this site is turning into Soccer Pitch of Schemes. I mean, seriously, check this out:

The reason for this flood of soccer stadium building has less to do with soccer being the sport of millennials or whatever, and more to do with there being umpteen gazillion soccer teams in the U.S. now, and more on the way, and lots of them not having brand-new stadiums of their own because sometimes there just isn’t time to do that before you have to collect some more expansion fees, you know? Which should cut both ways — if MLS and the USL alike are going to expand to every city with its own post office, you’d think that cities wouldn’t need to spend big bucks on stadium funding in order to have a shot at a franchise — but here we have Switchbacks president Nick Ragain saying of the Colorado Springs vote that “what it means is we have a long-term professional soccer team in Colorado Springs,” and nobody in the media rolling their eyes, so I guess these are questions that are not asked in polite society.

And speaking of soccer and the media not rolling their eyes, yes, an Argentine football team celebrated the reopening of its stadium with a giant holographic flaming lion as many of you have emailed and tweeted at me, but also it’s not really a hologram and fans in the stadium couldn’t even see it except on TV screens. Number of news articles pointing this out: one; number of news articles going “Oooooh, fiery lion!”: more than I can count.

Friday roundup: Oakland opens A’s land sale talks, Clippers arena down to two lawsuits, plus video vaportecture!

I know it’s not Deadspin — nothing is, or ever will be again, though we can dream — or even sports, but I have an article up at City Limits this week about another big-money public construction project that seems to be proceeding despite no one quite knowing how it will work or how it will be paid for. It’s probably only a matter of time before sports team owners figure out a way to do promote new stadiums as worthy of climate resilience funding, especially since local governments are already showing themselves willing to spend climate money poorly to benefit rich people.

Anyway, oodles of bonus news this week, plus more vaportecture, so let’s get to it:

  • The city of Oakland is starting talks with the A’s owners about selling the city’s half of the Oakland Coliseum property to the team for development — with the proceeds to be used to build a new stadium on the Oakland waterfront — but still hasn’t dropped its lawsuit against Alameda County for agreeing to sell its share to the A’s without consulting the city. Meanwhile, here’s an article by the mayor of Oakland about how baseball and port operations are both good things, let’s find a way to make them both work together!
  • The Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that the proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood poses no danger to aviation at nearby Los Angeles International Airport, and a judge has dismissed claims that the city was required to seek affordable housing uses for the site first. But the project still faces two more lawsuits over how Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was granted the land and whether the city illegally evaded open-meetings laws, so we could yet be here a while.
  • Paterson, New Jersey is asking the state Economic Development Authority for $50 million in tax credits to use on a $76 million project redevelopment of Hinchliffe Stadium, a crumbling (this term is way overused, but it’s actually crumbling) former Negro League stadium, into “a 7,800-seat athletic facility, with a 314-space parking garage, restaurant with museum exhibits dedicated to Negro League baseball, 75-unit apartment building for senior citizens and a 5,800-square-foot childcare facility.” The rest of the article doesn’t explain much about what the renovation will look like or how the money will be spent or who will collect revenues from the new facility or anything, but it does include Mayor André Sayegh opining that you could “have a big concert there. Boxing. Wrestling. It could all happen there,” and Councilmember Michael Jackson countering that “to spend money on this project is senseless” since it will only create maybe 50 jobs. Feel free to take sides!
  • The Arena Football League has suspended operationsagain — after getting sued for nonpayment by its former insurance company, but “may become a traveling league, similar to the Premier Lacrosse League, whereby all players practice in a centralized location and fly to a different city each weekend to play games.”
  • Nashville S.C.‘s MLS stadium is now on hold, with Mayor John Cooper suspending demolition to clear the site, amid a lawsuit charging that the project and its $75 million in public cash were approved improperly and will interfere with the annual Tennessee state fair. The Tennessee Tribune writes that “it’s only a matter of time before the MLS soccer stadium contracts will be voided and put out to bid again”; I am not a lawyer, but then, neither are the Tribune’s journalists, so we’ll see.
  • If you want to rent office space in the Texas Rangers‘ old stadium for some reason, you now can! Just realize that it won’t be air-conditioned when you go outside.
  • The Minnesota Vikings‘ stadium is killing more than a hundred birds a year, but other buildings kill even more birds, which means the Vikings clearly need a more state-of-the-art bird-killing building, that’s how this works, right?
  • Here’s a photo of how the new Los Angeles Rams (and Chargers) stadium looks in its current state of construction, and if you think that the “vertical design” will make it feel “intimate.” then you agree with one Rams fan! Another fan, who was sitting in the fourth row of seats behind the end zone, remarked, “I kind of expected the field (area) to be much larger, to take you away from the experience. But you’re going to be right in the game.” Two takeaways: There are reasons why teams never invite fans to sit in the cheap seats to see what the view will be like from there, and American sports fans really aren’t great with geometry.
  • Calgary is looking at cutting wages for city employees to balance its budget, and one local economist thinks maybe not building the Flames a new arena would be a better idea.
  • The five-county sales tax surcharge that paid for the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Miller Park is finally set to phase out in January, after 23 years and $577 million. This is not so good news if you’re upset about Wisconsin taxpayers spending $577 million to pay for a private sports owner’s baseball stadium, but good news if you were worried that the Brewers or some other sports team might see the sales tax money sitting around and want to propose a new project to spend it on, which is always a worry.
  • The Montreal Canadiens have gotten a reduction in their property tax bill for the fourth time since 2013, even while property valuations elsewhere in the city are soaring. No reason was given, but “they’re major players in the local business community and whined about it a lot” seems like a reasonable theory.
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist John Steigerwald asks about public funding for the Pirates‘ now 18-year-old stadium, “If the Pirates were faced with paying for their ballpark, do you think they might have had more incentive to insist on real revenue sharing and a salary cap before they built it?” Answer: No, rich people have incentive to demand money everywhere they can find it, regardless if they already have money, which Pirates owner Bob Nutting totally does. Next question!
  • I promised you vaportecture, so here’s some vaportecture: a ten-second video of the entryway to the Phoenix Suns arena morphing into a somewhat snazzier entryway now that the city of Phoenix agreed to spend $168 million in renovations in exchange for a few tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations. (Actual quid pro quo not included, but you can picture it easily enough.) Yes, it’s mostly just a bunch of new video boards and some new escalators being enjoyed by a handful of beefy white people, but isn’t that what pro basketball is all about?