- The group trying to force a public referendum on Phoenix Suns arena subsidies threw in the towel this week, after the city promised a court battle on the grounds that spending $168 million in tax money on renovating an arena is not a “legislative act.” The lesson: If your opponent doesn’t have deep pockets, threaten to sue them into oblivion. (Side lesson from the Suns mess: Elected officials always have their price, and it’s usually pretty cheap.)
- Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said he’d “love to put some sort of roof” on his stadium so it could host the Final Four, and because this is 2019, nobody can tell if he was kidding.
- David Beckham’s Inter Miami has been turned away by both the Miami Marlins and Dolphins to share digs temporarily in 2020, thanks to the problems of scheduling MLS games around the MLB or NFL schedules, leaving the team with a mystery “preferred site” that team co-owner Jorge Mas promised to reveal in “late February, early March.”
- Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis says he is “not frustrated” about not having a place to play in 2019, indicating it’s his “preference” to stay in the Bay Area but that he has “other options” as well. In other words, Mark Davis probably doesn’t have any better idea than the rest of us where the Raiders will open the 2019 season, which is just seven months away.
- Sorry if I failed to keep you up on the Queensboro F.C. saga, but the city of New York late last month signed a letter of intent that proposes two scenarios for the contested Willets Point neighborhood, one with a minor-league soccer stadium, one without. In other words, nothing has been decided at all, so feel free to go back to ignoring this story until somebody actually takes a step toward putting concrete plans in motion, or at least releases some cool vaportecture renderings.
- Tottenham Hotspur stadium opening update: April, maybe.
- In anticipation of the arrival of the Boston Red Sox‘ Triple-A team in Worcester, the Worcester Business Journal has taken an exhaustive look at how funding a new minor-league ballpark worked out for nearby Manchester, New Hampshire and eleven other cities. The answer: really, really not well at all, with the new stadiums sparking little of the promised neighboring development. On the glass-partly-full side, Southern New Hampshire University business professor Doug Blais does say of building sports venues, “It’s much easier to say it’s been successful at a $25-million price point rather than a $100-million price point”; unfortunately, Worcester is on the hook for more than $90 million.
- And here’s an exhaustive look from the Kansas City Star at some Chiefs tax returns that were briefly made public; no earth-shattering stadium subsidy news, but it is an excellent explanation of how easy it is to make a bundle owning an NFL team, regardless of whether you win games or not.
- And here’s an article from Fast Company about how stadiums can be good things for municipalities, because look at what the Roman amphitheater in Arles has done for that French city. Never let it be said that I do not provide you with links to the full breadth of stadium coverage.
It’s too cold to type an intro! I miss the Earth before we broke it. But anyway:
- It’s Super Bowl week, so we get articles on how Atlanta spent a lot of money on sports stadiums and NFL stadiums cost a lot of public dollars and the Los Angeles Rams‘ new stadium will be “transformative,” and Roger Goodell is “hopeful” the Oakland Raiders will decide “soon” where they’ll play this fall, none of which really provide in the way of much new information, but the Atlanta one has some good quotes from economist J.C. Bradbury, at least.
- And if you thought you could avoid the Super Bowl just by not living in the city hosting it and studiously ignoring the NFL — okay, maybe that’s only me — know that an unspecified amount of your federal tax dollars will be going to provide security help for the event, including flyovers by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Defense Department aircraft. Somebody tell the feds that the Atlanta stadium has a roof, so should already be safe from blimp attacks.
- Some D.C. officials don’t want Washington’s NFL team to move to the RFK stadium site, and some do. Also, audio clip of me for some reason!
- Newballpark.org blogger Marine Layer has calculated that the cost of building a gondola to any new Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal will amount to $12.60 per each round-trip ride, which either means fans are going to have a huge extra cost or local government is going to end up subsidizing the rides, neither of which is a great solution.
- Tottenham Hotspur stadium opening date update: nope, nothing yet.
- Nashville S.C. will begin play in the MLS in 2020, initially making the Tennessee Titans‘ stadium their home, because NFL stadiums are totally fine for hosting MLS matches so long as they’re not standing in the way of an owner trying to demand a soccer-only stadium.
- The Detroit Pistons still can’t get anyone to go to their new arena, though one local sportswriter says the building has been a success because a 13-year-old won a figure skating championship there, and how can you put a price on that?
- The Texas Rangers owners’ decision to install fake turf at their new stadium that they built to replace their old stadium because the old one didn’t have air conditioning may be unpopular, but rest assured that it’ll be fine because “technology and data are changing baseball — and the world around us — at an unbelievably fast rate.” I am not sure Tug McGraw would be assuaged.
Friday roundup: Don’t subsidize bad people, XFL to pay St. Louis more in rent than Rams did, unscientific poll on Suns arena is unscientific
Happy first Friday roundup of 2019! I could add a whole lot of thoughts on lists I’ve read and haven’t made of the best of this and that of last year, but to save time let me just stick with saying that this song is pretty damn excellent and get right to the news of the short week:
- Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a column about how Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder is a bad person and a terrible owner and should never get a dime of public stadium money because that’d be “a bailout, welfare,” none of which I can disagree with, but at the same time I’m a bit uncomfortable with the implication that if Snyder were less unpleasant, he’d then be deserving of public largesse.
- The XFL may still be considered a bit of a joke league, but at least it can pay the city of St. Louis a decent stadium rent, unlike the Rams ever did. (Of course, the “joke league” bit is exactly why they are being required to pay real rent whereas the Rams could refuse to; there’s not much advantage to being an 80-pound gorilla.)
- This essay responding to Amazon’s tax breaks is pretty excellent, though it’s still a half-notch below this classic Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon.
- An opposing team manager has demanded that Tottenham Hotspur be required to play the rest of their season at Wembley rather than moving into their much-delayed stadium, because … teams that got to play them while they were adjusting to their new grounds would have an advantage somehow? From what I’ve been able to tell, most of home-field advantage in soccer comes from home fans booing (or whistling) at refs to intimidate them into making calls that go their team’s way, but the last time I tried reading the literature on this it quickly went deep into the weeds, so I won’t belabor the point.
- “Fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena” were “surprisingly” in favor of spending public money to renovate the Phoenix Suns arena, according to Fox10 Phoenix, compared to “the online response” which was more “mixed.” This is both an impressively off-label use of “surprisingly” and an impressively lazy attempt at polling Phoenix residents — two impressively lazy attempts, even — so fine job, Fox10 Phoenix!
Friday roundup: SF doesn’t want Raiders, Spurs hate Tottenham, Rays outfielder says team has “no fan base” and should maybe move
It was a bit of a slow holiday week, but the news that there was made up for it by being extra-entertaining:
- The Oakland Raiders played maybe their last game in Oakland, at least until the next time they move back to Oakland. (Hey, it’s happened before.) Still nobody has a clue where the team will play next year, but San Francisco officials are already gearing up to block any Raiders games at the Giants‘ AT&T Park, saying they don’t want to be “scabs” in the city of Oakland’s lawsuit against the Raiders for skipping town that prompted this game of stadium chicken in the first place. This is looking like a better and better option.
- The New Jersey state legislature is preparing to help out the horse racing industry by providing $100 million over the next five years to goose winnings, which seems like exactly the opposite of how gambling is supposed to work.
- Tottenham Hotspur still can’t get its new stadium open — the earliest possible date is now in February — but that’s not stopping team officials from griping that the surrounding neighborhood is too dirty to go alongside its fancy new stadium thanks to “litter and fly-tipping.” According to one borough memo, “When the question of all the extra cleaning needed was raised and who would fund it it was made very clear that it would not be paid for by Spurs.” The estimated cost of added street cleaning would be £8,000 per match; the team’s most recent annual profit was £58 million.
- I love interactive fiction and have even written some myself, so I’m inclined to like this Arizona Republic article presenting the Suns arena showdown as a Choose Your Own Adventure book. But sadly its plot relies on some misconceptions — allowing the Suns owners to break their lease in 2022 doesn’t necessarily mean the team will leave, and if they do leave the city’s estimates of $130-180 million in renovations to keep it “competitive” for concerts may be overblown — so I won’t be voting for it for a XYZZY Award.
- Some details have been released about plans for a Portland baseball stadium, but none of them involve how the stadium would be paid for or how much rent it would pay to its public landlords or even where a team would be obtained, so feel free to skip reading the full documents unless you’re really interested.
- Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Tommy Pham was asked what he thought about playing in his new home city after being traded last year from St. Louis, and replied, “It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all.” Pham added, “Do I think something has to happen, whether it be a new ballpark, maybe a new city? I think so.” I am going out on a limb to guess that attendance will probably not be great next year on Tommy Pham Bobblehead Night.
- The Milwaukee Bucks arena has been open for “several months” now, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which apparently can’t count to four, and the most important takeaways are that: 1) kids like candy, 2) grownups like cheese-covered sausages, 3) everybody likes taking selfies, 4) Bucks president Peter Feigin also likes candy, and 5) nobody actually wants to sit in that ridiculous Panorama Club. No reports back yet on the status of the magic basketball.
Man, who opened the stadium news floodgates this week? Here it is almost noon on Friday and I still haven’t gotten to the news roundup — okay, know what, less whining, let’s just get right to it:
- The city of Oakland filed its antitrust suit against the Raiders as promised this week, which means it’s time for a list of places the Raiders could play next year if they are forced to leave Oakland in a huff. “Do a multi-week residency in London and play the rest of the season on the road” is one I hadn’t heard before, anyway.
- New York’s Empire State Development Corporation approved its draft environmental report on a new New York Islanders arena at Belmont Park, and it basically comes down to “yeah, traffic is already bad and it’s going to get worse, we’ll try to figure something out but don’t hold your breath.” The state will also provide a whole two Long Island Rail Road trains to take fans to and from games, which will require new switches to deal with the massive mess that is that train interchange, for which “it is also expected that [the arena developers] will contribute to LIRR and MTA funding,” which isn’t exactly the same as saying the developers will pay for it.
- Tottenham Hotspur‘s long-delayed stadium is still delayed, but at least now fans can enjoy drone footage of the place they’re not being allowed to set foot in.
- The National Parks Conservation Association was “shocked” to learn that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants to take 300 acres of federal parkland to use for a new Washington NFL team stadium. “I have talked to lower-level Park Service employees who are just as shocked as I am about this,” said the organization’s Chesapeake and Virginia programs director, Pam Goddard. “We are vehemently opposed.” Hogan has said that no public money would be used for the stadium plan, but public land and building out sewer and power lines into federal parkland, now that’s another story.
- Residents of South Boston want the New England Revolution to stay offa their lawns with any stadium plans.
- NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants more NBA-ready arenas in Latin America so the NBA can play occasional regular season games there, but didn’t offer to help pay for any, that’d be crazy, and does he look crazy?
Friday roundup: More MLS expansion drum beating, more wasteful non-sports subsidies, more bonkers Tottenham stadium delay stories
Getting a late start this morning after being out last night seeing Neko Case, so let’s get to this:
- MLS commissioner Don Garber is still beating the drum for two more expansion teams to get to a total of 28, and mentioned seven cities — Detroit, San Diego, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Phoenix — as possibilities, notwithstanding that Cincinnati was already picked for an expansion franchise earlier this year. Cut the man some slack, it’s gotta be hard to keep track of all the cities that do and don’t have MLS franchises yet. Maybe he could get someone to make him an app.
- Detroit, like a lot of cities, is giving tax breaks and other subsidies to lots of projects, not just sports, and the evidence is that most of these are wasted on development that would happen anyway. Which isn’t new news, but in case you needed the reminder.
- A $1.5 billion redevelopment of the parking lots around the Nassau Coliseum is seeking $100 million in New York state grants, despite concerns that building a $1.5 billion mixed-use development in what’s kind of the middle of nowhere without a major-league team playing there is kind of a crazy idea.
- And speaking of development near New York sports venues, the Willets Point area in Queens — which visitors to Mets games may remember as a hive of auto repair shops, and more recently as a barren wasteland where a hive of auto repair shops used to be — may end up getting partly used as parking lots for the foreseeable future, which has people whose businesses were forcibly displaced for what was supposed to be new development kinda steamed.
- The Mobile BayBears are moving to Huntsville — as I’m sure you know, right? — and the city’s terrible lease on their 22-year-old stadium means the landowner could tear it down if the city doesn’t find a new team to move in. Don’t put all your development eggs in the basket of minor-league sports, kids, and if you do, for god’s sake get some grownups to write the lease.
- Restaurateurs in Inglewood are hoping for a windfall once the new Los Angeles Rams and Chargers stadium opens in 2020. Somebody should really tell them that even with two teams, that’s only 20 games a year, so they’d better figure out how to seat 70,000 people all at once to make up for other 345 days a year when not much is going on there. (Okay, not 70,000 people at once when it’s Chargers games.)
- Yldefonso Solá Morales Stadium, home of the Caribbean World Series champion Caguas Criollos of the Puerto Rican league, is facing demolition from Hurricane Maria damage because the city can’t spare $15 million to repair it. Not that Caguas should be taking money from all its other desperate needs to fix a baseball stadium, but it does drive home the craziness of Puerto Rico’s economic situation when a stadium will get torn down for the lack of less money than Dustin Pedroia was paid by the Boston Red Sox to play three games this year.
- Construction News has a long article about how Tottenham Hotspur‘s new stadium might not open at all this year thanks to organizational disarray and workers snorting coke on the job; it’s worth a full read, but if you just want the short version, Deadspin has an excellent summary with a great headline and your clicks help pay me for future articles for them, so sure, go there!
Friday roundup: Trump tariff construction cost hikes, Beckham lawsuit tossed, Elon Musk inserts himself into headlines yet again
Lots of news to report this week, and that’s even without items that I can’t read because of Tronc Troncing:
- Oak View Group’s costs on Seattle’s arena renovation are up about $100 million or 16%, and OVG CEO Tim Leiweke says Donald Trump’s tariffs on construction materials are partly to blame. Leiweke didn’t put a price tag on it, but it’s something to keep an eye on for future stadium and arena projects, at least through 2020.
- Two members of the Nashville Metro Council are trying to get that city’s proposed MLS stadium subsidy put to a public vote in November, which, good luck with closing that particular barn door.
- Tottenham Hotspur‘s new stadium still isn’t ready, and their temporary home at Wembley is hosting an NFL game the same day as Tottenham’s scheduled home match against Manchester City, and it’s all a giant mess.
- It’s hot at San Francisco 49ers games, and nobody knows what to do about it. This is going around, apparently.
- Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reports that “sources familiar with the [Arizona Coyotes’] situation” say the team lost a staggering $50 million last year, which seems to be partly debt that owner Andrew Barroway took out to buy the team? I dunno, you read the article and try to make sense of it, beyond “the Coyotes are a wreck,” which presumably you already knew.
- The lawsuit to block David Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium on the grounds that it was an illegal no-bid contract has been dismissed by a judge. I’m pretty sure this means the project is due to next be held up by a plague of locusts, or maybe a rain of toads.
- Here’s a USA Today article on how Elon Musk is going to make it easier for Los Angeles Dodgers fans to get to the game by building a tunnel to carry giant electric roller skates under Dodger Stadium, and here’s a Deadspin response pointing out that since Musk hasn’t yet built any actual transit under L.A. despite digging lots of tunnels, and “has been on a seemingly life-long mission to brand himself as a real-life Tony Stark, but he’s really just a guy who made an electric car that rich people like to drive,” maybe it’s best not to get too excited about this one just yet. Back to the gondolas!
Looks like that Tottenham Hotspur retractable field — which would apparently actually be a retractable grass pitch over permanent fake turf, something that’s hard to picture, especially since there’s no obvious place for it to retract to, but anyway — has done the trick, as the Premier League club announced a deal yesterday to host two NFL games per year at its new London stadium, once it opens in 2018.
In exchange, Tottenham will get … hang on, there’s got to be something in the long NFL.com statement that says what the NFL will be paying in rent or revenue sharing … nope, apparently not. But the NFL will provide Tottenham with something, in addition to the warm glow of hosting the kind of football that people in the UK don’t actually care about. (As my Vice collleague Aaron Gordon discovered last year, the Super Bowl got beat in the British TV ratings by both The Simpsons and a competitive tourism reality show called “Coach Trip.”)
Meanwhile, the new Tottenham deal has lots of folks speculating that this is the precursor to a full-time London NFL team soon, which it really isn’t, for all the reasons I went over back in April. For now, Tottenham just gets a bit of undisclosed cash, and the NFL gets some more chances to beat out Harry Shearer for the hearts and minds of the British public.
Tottenham Hotspur‘s owners have another idea for luring an NFL team to London, which involves a retractable fake-turf field and is only probably going to lead to London even further becoming L.A.’s eventual successor as idle relocation threat target for NFL teams, as I discuss in my debut for the Washington Post’s PostEverything op-ed site:
Without L.A. in play, NFL team owners would need to find a new bogeyman. Enter London. If the league plays its cards right, it can spend the next two decades dangling London as a threat to silence any U.S. stadium naysayers — while still using the distant promise of a team to plump up British interest in the NFL, in a kind of “watch us and we will come” strategy aimed at the 64 million bereft souls who have never known the joy of buying a $10 foam finger.
The rest of the essay explains why I don’t think London is an alluring target for NFL owners, and includes all the digs at American football culture and links to comedy routines that you’ve come to expect from posts here, only I actually get paid for it. So go read it already!
This was reported in the Daily Mail, the British tabloid that once won an award for “worst misrepresentation of a scientific article in a national newspaper,” so major grains of salt, but: The owners of the London-based Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly looking into building a new 65,000-seat stadium that would be able to be converted to football, thus giving them the ability to play host to a London NFL franchise.
The Mail reports — citing “sources” — that “it is understood that plans being drawn up for the Premier League outfit may include a sliding pitch to protect the playing surface for when it is used for NFL matches.” Which is pretty handwavy even for unattributed stadium plans, but given that we’re talking about an NFL team that so far exists only in the mind of London NFL boosters, it’s probably about as should be expected.
In the meantime, let’s just enjoy this awesome rendering of now-scrapped earlier plans for a Tottenham stadium, just because a building with “NAMING RIGHTS” stenciled on the roof is the perfect image for our sports era.