So how’s everyone out there, you know, doing? As the pandemic slowly feels less like a momentary crisis to be weathered and more like a new way of living to be learned (I refuse to say “new normal,” as nothing about this will ever feel normal), it’s tempting to occasionally look up and think about what habits and activities from the before times still make sense; I hope that FoS continues to educate and entertain you in ways that feel useful (or at least usefully distracting) — from all accounts the entire world being turned upside down hasn’t been enough to interrupt sports team owners’ important work of stadium shakedowns, so it’s good if we can keep at least half an eye on it, amid our stress-eating and TV bingewatching.
So get your half an eye ready, because a whole bunch of stuff happened again this week:
- There’s a new plot of land open near the Carolina Panthers‘ stadium now that Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is getting $50 million in tax breaks to move to a neighboring county, and billionaire Panthers owner David Tepper should demand a new stadium there because Tepper “has influence and credibility” and the current 24-year-old stadium is “outdated because it lacks the suites the new stadiums offer and because it lacks a dome” and “all great stadiums should be built downtown” and “there’s a price to doing business, and we accept it,” writes Charlotte Observer sports columnist Tom Sorensen, whose Twitter bio calls him “occasionally retired” but apparently he comes out of retirement when there is important reporting like this to be done.
- USL Championship team Loudoun United F.C. is asking to defer its stadium rent payments to Loudoun County, Virginia, and instead make them over the next six years, which is for some reason a reasonable ask while New York and Los Angeles residents withholding rent is “alarming.”
- And speaking of the spoils going to whoever has the most lobbyists, both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have been lobbying Congress for pandemic relief loans, even as the former makes plans to wipe out a good chunk of the latter and/or force a takeover of the minor leagues, because why let a good pandemic pass without taking advantage of the opportunities it affords to consolidate your monopoly power?
- Plans for a USL stadium in the East Bay city of Concord have been dropped amid the uncertainty of when and how sports will restart, and so maybe have plans for a CFL stadium in Halifax, though neither one was especially likely to happen pre-Covid, and there’s nothing to stop either from being revived down the road. Also Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg probably isn’t getting twin new stadiums in Montreal and Tampa Bay anytime soon, though given that he has to wait till 2027 to leave St. Petersburg anyway, he can take the time to regroup and work behind the scenes on stadium deals, just like the New York Yankees and Mets did when forced to step away from their new-stadium plans during the post-9/11 slump.
- As team owners lay off staff and demand bailout money, Marc Normandin helpfully reminds us that Miami Marlins principal owner Bruce Sherman has a yacht that costs the same as his team’s projected Opening Day payroll.
- Louisville’s plans to pay off its arena costs with incremental sales taxes look real bad now that there’s a pandemic and no sales of anything around the arena, but then they looked pretty terrible in the first place.
- The German Bundesliga will resume play tomorrow in empty stadiums — with teams set to forfeit games if fans evern show up outside to cheer — and three sports economists want to take the opportunity to point out that home-field advantage pretty much evaporates without fans, because apparently it’s almost entirely about referees subconsciously tilting their rulings in favor of the home team when they get booed by crowds every time a marginal call goes the other way. I’ve seen studies on this before — if I remember right, basketball home-court advantage is mostly about foul calls, and in baseball it’s mostly ball-strike calls — and I actually find it kind of endearing that so much of sports is about fans influencing games by going “Awwwwwww!” en masse, something I’m sure we’ll all miss not just now that fans have disappeared, but also in the longer-term future once game officials are replaced by robots because players are afraid to get breathed on.
- Elon Musk successfully bullied Alameda County into allowing him to restart his Tesla factory against the order of health officials, and was aided and abetted by other states’ officials offering to lure his factory away if California was going to be so mean as to require it to obey laws, because of course he was given that Musk’s real genius is in extracting public subsidies, it sure isn’t in reinventing public transportation.
- Sports journalism has died after a long illness. Please send expressions of dismay for the future of democracy in lieu of flowers.