Las Vegas tells soccer stadium referendum petitioners deadline actually today, oopsie

Las Vegas city councilmember Bob Beers is not having a very good couple of months. First one of his fellow councilmembers flipped to cast the deciding vote on a $122 million soccer stadium subsidy after Beers and his colleagues gave the stadium developers extra time to eliminate the need for public subsidies. (Instead they spent the time lobbying the swing vote, because duh.) Then when Beers proposed a referendum campaign to overturn the council vote, this happened:

The opposition group was told it had until Jan. 24 to gather 2,308 signatures to put an initiative on the June ballot seeking to block taxpayer funding for the project.

Then, on Jan. 14, the city clerk informed the group that there was a miscalculation and that it would need 8,258 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Today, Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic ruled that the signatures were due a day earlier than expected. The petition must be turned in 130 days before the election, but Jerbic said Election Day shouldn’t have been included in calculating the due date.

Today, then, will be a race to file the rest of the petitions, and then possibly a race to file a lawsuit against the city for changing the rules midstream. Isn’t democracy fun?

Boston’s “no public money” Olympic stadium pledge may not count public money for land

The Boston papers are off to an excellent start asking the questions that need to be asked about Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid: First the Boston Globe asked architects whether a temporary stadium would really be any cheaper than a permanent one (answer: nope); now the Boston Herald is questioning why, if the Olympic stadium won’t require any public money as promised, it needs a quasi-public authority to build it?

The city, the state and the MBTA would hand over public land in Boston’s Seaport District to the newly created agency or an existing quasi-public with “expanded authority,” which would purchase surrounding private land, as well as railway air rights, to build the 80-acre stadium and surrounding development, according to the bid submitted to the U.S. Olympic Committee last month.

Quasi-publics are typically financed at least in part by taxpayer funds or public resources. The backers behind the Boston Olympics have repeatedly denied taxpayers would foot the bill for the creation of a public authority…

The bid doesn’t address how the city or state could cede public land and relocate current public facilities without taxpayer money.

All excellent questions! Boston 2024 executive vice president Erin Murphy Rafferty replied in a statement to the Herald that the pledge not to use “any tax dollars for Olympic-related construction” is “non-negotiable and is one we will keep” — but, of course, “land acquisition” isn’t “construction,” now, is it? This is one to keep an eye on, so hopefully the Boston newspapers will continue to do so.

Warriors: We need a new $1B arena because we don’t like the restaurant manager at the old one

The San Francisco Business Times has a report out on the pressing matter of “Why the Raiders, A’s and Warriors want new homes” (verbatim headline), and the answer is: They all need to tear down their old venues and build entirely new ones at a cost of billions of dollars because they don’t like the concessionaires, duh!

Consider the recently opened BMW Club at Oracle Arena. BMW is a Warriors sponsor, but the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority contracts arena operations to Anschutz Entertainment Group. AEG, in turn, contracts arena restaurant management to Levy Restaurants.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge” to make customer service part of the overall game experience when food service and stadium operations aren’t in the Warriors’ control, team President and COO Rick Welts said.

Here’s a crazy idea: If your main complaint is the guys the county hired to run the arena operations, why don’t you offer to buy the arena operations rights from the county, and then pick your own operator? Sure, it might cost you something, but less than the billion dollars it will cost for a whole new building.

The real answer, of course, is that this is about the 74th most important reason for these teams wanting out of their old stadiums, but it’s what the Warriors president told the Business Times, so it’s what they’re going to report, dammit. Remember, kids: Friends don’t let friends read news stories that only include sports team execs and stadium developers as sources!

Live chat with Neil deMause and Heywood Sanders today, 1pm ET, submit questions starting … now!

More news after I run some errands [UPDATE: More news is now posted below on the main page!], but in the meantime, all the news you really need for today is that FoS convention center correspondent (and University of Texas professor, and book author in his own right) Heywood Sanders and I will be holding a live chat in the comments section of this very item starting at 1 pm today. Anyone can attend, anyone can ask questions, and anyone can ask questions starting now, though Heywood and I won’t be answering them until 1.

Fire away!

Chat with Heywood Sanders! And me! Thursday, January 22, 1 pm Eastern!

Welcome, one and all, to the reboot of the Field of Schemes live chats. As promised earlier, I’ve decided to start opening these up not just to FoS Supporters but to anyone who happens by, since they’re more fun with a fuller room. And I am very pleased to announce that joining me for the first chat of the year will be University of Texas-San Antonio economist and Convention Center Follies author Heywood Sanders to talk about the convention-center end of the public subsidy racket, though he knows a fair bit about stadiums as well.

We will be convening here on Thursday, January 22 at 1 pm Eastern, and sticking around for an hour or two, depending on how many questions we get. I’ll be setting up the chat item in the morning, so if anyone can’t make it for the live event, feel free to leave your questions in comments and we’ll get to them as we can.

How to tell a real move threat from a fake one: a historical primer

When you’re done reading up on this morning’s stadium news here, hie thee to Vice Sports, where I’ve just published a historical overview of sports team move threats, and which ones to take seriously. (Spoilers: The Milwaukee Bucks maybe more than the St. Louis Rams, though there’s reason to question both.)

And while we’re at it, in case you’ve missed any of my other recent articles for Vice, you can find links to all those (and more!) at demause.net, your one-stop shopping for all Neil deMause writing that can’t be contained within the walls of this blog.

NJ getting $2m from Devils to close Meadowlands arena, Devils getting everything else

As it turns out, the operators of Newark’s Prudential Center are indeed paying to have the Izod Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands close for two years: The owners of the New Jersey Devils will pay the state of New Jersey a whopping $2 million to shut their competition down, in addition to freeing the state from the responsibility of a projected $8.5 million in red ink for each of the next two seasons.

And for their money, the Devils owners are also getting the right to restrict how the Izod Center is used once it reopens, if it reopens, in 2017:

In the letter [from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority], the sports authority agreed either to keep the Izod Center closed in 2017 and in 2018 as well, or alternatively to reopen in 2017 in a format that is not directly competitive with the Newark arena.

In the latter case, the sports authority would agree that from 2017-2021, the Meadowlands facility would only offer a “single theatrical residency production” — a series of performances such as Cirque du Soleil — or cut the capacity of the Izod Center in half, to a maximum of 10,000 seats. Popular family shows such as the traditional traveling circus and ice-skating events that are featured in most or all arenas in the region also would not be held at Izod Center at that time, with an exception for shows produced by a new operator.

The Prudential Center will also produce and get all revenue from the run of the Ringling Bros. circus in March that’s scheduled to be the last events at Izod before its closure. All in all, it seems like a pretty sweet deal for the Devils owners, but given that all New Jersey had was a mostly empty arena, a sea of red ink, and a governor who has wanted the place closed for a while, it’s not like the state had much leverage.

Some Jersey lawmakers have objected to the deal, with State Sen. Loretta Weinberg charging that this is just a ploy to help out Gov. Chris Christie’s pal Jerry Jones — owner of both the Dallas Cowboys and part of Legends Entertainment, which runs concessions at the Prudential Center — and threatening to sue to stop it. Presumably once the center is actually closed, this kerfuffle will die down and … oh, who am I kidding, Chris Christie is involved, this controversy will go on and on forever! Especially if Christie can’t keep a handle on his itchy texting fingers.

Boston’s temporary Olympic stadium would cost as much as regular one, but at least would go away afterwards

Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid got the nod from the U.S. Olympic Committee in part because it promised not to leave the city littered with white-elephant sports venues, most notably by building a temporary stadium in South Boston that could be taken down after the Olympics were over. But stadium architects have warned the Boston Globe that “temporary” doesn’t mean any cheaper:

Benjamin Flowers, an associate professor of architecture at Georgia Tech, said a 60,000-seat stadium would be so large and complex that calling it a temporary structure would be inaccurate.

“What they are really saying is, build a full-on stadium and then demolish it,” said Flowers, who studies stadiums around the world. “It strikes me as a curious proposition to suggest investing the many hundreds of millions it would take to do that to then demolish it and take it down.”

The bright side of doing that, it seems, is that the stadium site could then be used for something more useful — development, parks, space elevator deck, whatever — once the Olympics were over. It’s a bit of a weird way to be selling the world’s biggest sporting event — and we’re gonna build a super-cool stadium and then tear it down again because everyone knows stadiums suck — but points for honesty, at least.

SD mayor vows “good and fair deal” to subsidize Chargers stadium

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gave his State of the City speech yesterday, and make clear that he wants citizens to know that he’s committed to throwing money at the Chargers for a new stadium, but not throw it, you know, too wildly:

Delivering his first “State of the City” address, Faulconer said he would assemble a group of civic leaders to recommend a location either in Mission Valley or downtown and a financing plan that is “a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers.” He said he would then seek voter approval.

“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles been more real,” he said. “When the next season ends, we’ll be talking about the proposal to keep them here where they belong.”…

“Both the stadium and convention center are vital to San Diego,” he said. “Together or separately, we can get both done.”

You know what they say about negotiations: The most important thing is to say up front that it’s “vital” for you to see the project happen, because then you eliminate any leverage to walk away if the price tag gets too expensive. (Editor’s note: They don’t actually say that.)

Cordish mulling harborfront stadium in Baltimore, price and subsidy to be determined

Cordish Cos., who you’ll remember as the guys who failed in an attempt to get approval for a Las Vegas arena with no sports tenants and then succeeding in getting $122 million in public money for a soccer stadium for a Vegas team that doesn’t exist yet, is proposing to build a 15,000-seat arena on the Baltimore waterfront, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. The arena would go on Piers 5 and 6, which are currently occupied by a Cordish-run music pavilion, a hotel, and a couple of restaurants.

The BBJ has few other details, other than to say that it could be expanded to host an eventual NBA or NHL franchise, that it could cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” (duh), and that “public financing would also likely play a role” (also duh). As for me, I’m mostly disappointed that my initial misreading of the headline “Cordish floating plans to build Inner Harbor arena on Piers 5 and 6″ turns out not to mean that they’re planning one of these.