Friday roundup: Miami ripped off again by Loria, Rays roof removal proposed, America’s journalists snookered

I’ll keep this short today, in deference to any Texas readers who may be trying to save battery life thanks to that state’s power outages. Once your bandwidth is back, here’s a good reminder from the New York Times that climate change is expected to cause unseasonable cold snaps and winter storms as well as insane summer heat, so you have lots more of both to look forward to. Or, if you prefer, here’s an article on a similar theme from the Village Voice a few years back that I wrote a much snappier headline for.

Stadiums, right, that’s what you came here to read about! Let’s see what we’ve got:

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New Mexico United seeks $40m in state cash, walks back giant soccer robots

New Mexico United owner Peter Trevisani is back on the hustings pushing for a new stadium for his USL team, with the hustings in this case a phone call with the local TV station talking about “public-private partnerships” and how those giant soccer robot renderings weren’t really his idea after all:

“The vision for the stadium was always part of a broader vision before we ever announced the first team. A lot of the early renderings— they didn’t come from New Mexico United. They just came to us. People were having fun. They created drawings, ‘This is what it could look like,’” said New Mexico United’s CEO and owner Peter Trevisani.

Trevisani said right now they’re in the process of securing funds of the project.

“A really fragile delicate stage. A stage that’s so important that if people who want this get behind it, and voice their opinion. There has been a request from the city of Albuquerque for $40 million as far is a capital outlay program,” he said.

As a reminder, one of those early renderings looked like this:

That’s a rendering from FBT Architects, provided by Trevisani himself last February. So if by “people having fun” and “creating drawings” means people who were hired by the team to do so, then yup, all checks out!

The more interesting part, if not necessarily the more hilarious part, is that $40 million figure, which appears to be a request from Albuquerque to the state of New Mexico for funding toward a stadium. When numbers were last thrown around back in November 2019, it was $30 million in state money toward a $100 million stadium, so clearly Trevisani has decided that the onset of a global pandemic and associated public costs has made it a good time to ask for an extra $10 million, because Albuquerque deserves it:

“The communities that have been devastated by the pandemic. These are the communities that want this more than ever, so really now is the time to leave in lean in and not turn on her back on who really needs it the most,” he added…

“We have to build a bridge to hope. Yes, we need to take care of the issues we have today, but we need longer-term projects that don’t build a bridge of destitution, but build a bridge of hope. I think the state and the city have done a great job of providing relief and focusing on recovery, and now we’re at the stage that we are hopefully on the backside of this pandemic that we can focus on the resiliency of New Mexicans,” Trevisani added.

KOB-TV didn’t bother to call any state officials to see how they feel about spending $40 million on a bridge of hope, though Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, unsurprisingly, is not opposed to somebody who’s not him doing so. This is a really fragile delicate stage, so probably best not to bother them with questions when they’re busy trying not to turn on her back on who really needs it the most.

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If Covid is supposed to be slowing stadium spending, someone forgot to tell Albuquerque

If there’s one thing that’s given a boost to the stadium-building industry in the U.S., it’s the rapid growth of pro soccer, which is metastasizing franchises in a spree that’s somewhere between Ponzi scheme and dot-com bubble. While Major League Soccer is now up to 30 franchises, the second-tier United Soccer League already has 35 teams and plans for five more, and all those clubs have got to play games somewhere, and they would just die if it had to be in some old college football stadium or something, so, what are you going to do about this, city officials?

In the case of Albuquerque, home to the USL’s New Mexico United, the answer is apparently pay for a study of where to build a stadium before figuring out how to pay for one:

Mayor Tim Keller’s administration announced Friday it’s recommending a firm called the “Creative Arts Agency Icon” (CAAICON) to do a feasibility study for a proposed future multi-purpose soccer stadium…

The city hopes the feasibility study once and for all takes the guess work out of where to build the long-hyped venue.

“What I really want is a good answer, meaning here’s how much it will cost, here’s the available land, here’s how traffic could work, because we also know that if it is near a neighborhood or it is near businesses, they have an important role too,” Mayor Keller said at a news conference Friday. “Right now, everyone’s just discussing hypotheticals.”

Knowing how much a stadium would cost before setting out to build one is an important step, admittedly. So is how much the feasibility study would cost (KRQE reports that the city hasn’t agreed on a price yet with CAAICON, the entertainment industry behemoth founded by Michael Ovitz), and how much would be spent on a stadium or by whom — KQRE notes there’s “no clear estimate” on cost but that “in the past, state lawmakers have discussed the project as a possible public-private partnership.”

The idea of public funding for a new New Mexico United stadium has been kicking around since late last year, when the numbers being thrown around were $30 million in state money toward a $100 million stadium. Just before the pandemic hit, United’s owners stoked the fires with some crazy-ass stadium renderings featuring a giant robot Muffler Man kicking a soccer ball, and suggested incorporating art galleries into the stadium, because that’s a synergy whose time must surely be ripe.

What no one is much talking about is why New Mexicans are being asked to pay to build a new stadium for their two-year-old soccer team. Right now the club plays at the Albuquerque Isotopes‘ minor-league baseball stadium, which is less than ideal, but also not really the city’s problem — if Peter Trevisani, the investment fund manager, art installation funder, and CrossFit enthusiast who owns the soccer team, figured he needed a soccer-only stadium to make it work, maybe he should have thought of that before plunking down the $7 million franchise fee. (Though admittedly, potentially getting use of a $100 million stadium by just paying $7 million for the team plus some undetermined slice of stadium costs is exactly the kind of arbitrage you’d expect from an investment fund manager.)

Anyway, some local officials seem to think that a new soccer stadium is just what New Mexico needs to heal its now 12.7% unemployment rate. Here’s Democratic state representative Moe Maestas:

“There’s no better thing that a government can do in tough economic times than build things, you know, roads, bridges, sewer. I see this as similar in terms of being a public good.”

And here’s Trevisani himself back in June, shortly after he managed to get himself to the governor’s “economic recovery council”:

“I think one of the things that can help keep our economy going and can help be a catalyst for our economy and also build a bridge to a more normalized environment that we all want to get back to are public projects, and the stadium certainly would fall in is one of them,” Trevisani said.

A government-built soccer stadium is certainly a public project, and public spending is certainly one way to dig yourself out of an economic hole caused by feedback loops of nobody spending money because nobody has money because nobody is spending money. But there are all kinds of things the government can be spending money on, and unlike roads and bridges and sewer lines that can be used by everyone for free, a soccer stadium would be operated by a private sports franchise that would charge admission to get in. Also, I think soccer is just maybe less of an essential public good than not having raw sewage in the streets? I guess that’s the kind of thinking that’s keeping me off of the New Mexico economic recovery council — that, and not being one of the businessmen set to profit from New Mexico’s economic recovery spending. I knew there was synergy at work here somewhere.

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Friday roundup: More Carolina Panthers stadium demands, D-Backs explain Vancouver move threat, and giant soccer robots

Good morning, and thank you for taking a break from your coronavirus panic reading to patronize Field of Schemes. Please wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and we can begin:

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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.

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