Friday roundup: Phoenix to get USL stadium with giant disappearing soccer ball, plus more fallout from MLB slashing minor league teams

Too much going on this week to have time for more than a brief intro, but I do want to note that “’Company announces advertising campaign’ is not a story, no matter how easily that campaign can be metabolized by the publications it’s aimed at” is something that should be tattooed on the foreheads of all journalists, even if it is a quote from an article about Pantone colors.

And now, how sports team owners and their friends are trying to rip you off this week:

Share this post:

Nassau County to give Coliseum operator $2m in free rent once concerts resume, because “the future”

When it was announced back in August that former Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was handing over operations of Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum to one of his lenders, Florida financier Nick Mastroianni, one of the big questions was whether Mastroianni would agree to pay the millions of dollars in back rent that Prokhorov had been racking up since Prokhorov announced that he was shutting the arena down now that the New York Islanders were set to move out to play in their own new state-subsidized arena at Belmont Park. And the answer, Newsday now reveals, is that Nassau County wants to absolve Mastroianni of all rent payments until the Covid pandemic ends, and then another six months after that for good measure:

Nassau County has agreed to let the new leaseholder of Nassau Coliseum off the hook from paying rent until at least the summer in a deal that also guarantees that the Islanders can use the arena if needed during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The lease amendment, which requires approval by the Nassau County Legislature, calls for rent relief that continues until six months after the state lifts all restrictions on arena events…

“This extension coupled with the suspension of rent payments in recognition of the economic impact of the pandemic, will give Nassau and the HUB Team the opportunity to plan for the future, post-COVID, when the entertainment industry restarts,” [Nassau County Executive Laura] Curran said.

The current Coliseum rent is a little over $4 million a year, so the rent break will cost Nassau County maybe $5-6 million if arena events can resume at full capacity next spring or summer — plus an additional $2 million for the six months after that, when Long Islanders can again pack into the Coliseum to see Disney on Ice or whatever. That’s starting to run into some real money, even before you take into account that $6 million that New York state has promised toward arena renovations so that the Islanders can play one more lame-duck season at the Coliseum, before empty seats in all likelihood, if an NHL season even happens this winter.

One of the dilemmas of reporting on business subsidies during a public health crisis is drawing a line between legit economic stimulus and creating corporate windfalls for banks and Kanye West. Providing $8 million or so in rent rebates for an arena during a county budget deficit that could exceed $300 million, in exchange for exactly no promises about whether it will stay open or who will be employed there, does not seem like the best gamble; we’ll see what the Nassau County legislature says about it.

Share this post:

Friday roundup: Throwing good money after bad edition

This will be remembered as the week that all 30 MLB teams played at once, after the Cincinnati Reds returned from being sidelined by a positive Covid test … for one whole day, until the New York Mets were sidelined by two positive Covid tests. Is this a sign that having 900 players plus coaches plus other staff flying around a country with some of the highest Covid rates in the world is likely to keep resulting in occasional infections? Probably! Is it a sign that the MLB season is doomed to fail? Probably not, given that the season is almost halfway over already, though it’s going to get interesting once the “Everybody Plays!” postseason kicks off and a positive test result means delaying the entire schedule, and/or maybe playing entire playoff series as seven-inning doubleheaders. There’s increasing talk of playing everything after the first round in a bubble in, uh, Texas and Southern California, which sounds like a terrible idea but the NBA has managed to keep its players uninfected in the eye of the Covid hurricane in Florida, so who knows, really. Maybe there are no good ideas right now, only more and less terrible ones.

Anyway, enough about the goofy baseball season that could end up with a sub-.500 team winning the World Series, let’s talk about what you’re really here for:

Share this post:

Friday roundup: The baseball gods are very, very angry

Happy baseball season, everybody! Last night the New York Yankees were leading the Washington Nationals 4-1 when MLB commissioner Rob Manfred came out to explain the new playoff system in which 16 teams will make the postseason and the only advantage you’ll get from winning your division is home-field advantage in empty stadiums, at which point the baseball gods tried to kill Manfred by hurling lightning bolts at him and the game had to be called. This really could not be a more auspicious beginning.

Anyway, stadium and arena news, that’s what you’re here for:

Share this post:

Friday roundup: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it for 150 years edition

Happy Juneteenth, the most quintessentially American of holidays, in that it celebrates both the nation’s ability to right seemingly intractable horrific historic wrongs through grassroots action faster than anyone ever could have dreamed, and also its ability to then revert to virtually the exact same horrific wrongs in all but name for the next century or so. We got issues.

And speaking of issues — if that’s not too inappropriate to compare the enslavement of an entire people with the siphoning off of tax dollars for sports, which it probably is, but segues gotta segue — here are a bunch regarding stadiums and arenas that reared or re-reared their heads in the last week:

Share this post:

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:

Share this post:

Islanders return to Nassau unlikely, but shared custody could work

Now that Forest City Ratner, owner of the Brooklyn Nets‘ Barclays Center, has been picked to renovate the Nassau Coliseum, there’s been increasing speculation whether this could mean the New York Islanders staying in Long Island instead of moving to Brooklyn in 2015. It’s mostly thanks to this Tom Van Riper piece in Forbes, which noted that 1) the Islanders were previously going to stay put if they got a renovated arena, and now FCR plans on renovating the arena; 2) at 13,000 seats, FCR’s arena plans wouldn’t take much expansion to beat out the 14,000 that Barclays will seat for hockey; 3) FCR can make more money selling signage at two arenas instead of one; and 4) the Islanders at least have a fan base on Long Island, and who knows how they’ll fare in Brooklyn?

All of which are reasonable points — as is the one that with Barclays Center doing bang-up business with concerts, they might no longer be so eager to jam up winter dates with hockey on top of basketball — but right now this is still just some Forbes writer thinking out loud. Bruce Ratner has come out and said that a renovated Coliseum will be too small for hockey, and the Brooklyn move is way too far along at this point to just up and abandon it for fear that fans won’t show up.

Ratner has indicated that the relocated Islanders could play six home games a year in Nassau under his plan, though, which leaves open an easy strategy to for him and Islanders owner Charles Wang to hedge their bets: Watch attendance in Brooklyn vs. Long Island, and tweak the number of home games hosted at each as they fit. (Ratner could even shift some games last-minute if, say, Beyoncé suddenly needs Barclays for some dates, but that would risk pissing off Brooklyn Islanders fans who have no idea where Nassau is and how to get there by artisanal transit.) It’s probably not a long-term solution — eventually the team needs to have an identity, and Brooklyn and Long Island are very distinct markets — but it would be one way to keep their options open.

Share this post:

Nets beat Knicks for Nassau Coliseum renovation contract

Okay, before anyone says anything, that headline is blatantly misleading, I’ll readily admit: Forest City Ratner, which today was picked to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding property, is only a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets now after selling majority ownership to Mikhail Prokhorov to raise funds to build the Barclays Center; and Madison Square Garden, which lost out to FCR, owns other stuff in addition to the Knicks. I feel dirty with SEO.

But anyway, Forest City Ratner will indeed be the Nassau Coliseum developers, which means it’s going to be their problem how to figure out to make over an arena with no anchor sports tenant and hefty competition from the Garden, the Prudential Center (now with less feeble owner), and, yes, Barclays. It’s conceivable that FCR will try to bundle its two arena properties somehow to offer something that the other local arenas can’t, but unless that’s “We won’t book you into Brooklyn unless you play your second local night on Long Island,” I’m not sure what that’d be.

Anyway, Nassau can now look forward to getting its own version of the Brooklyn spaceship, only with less rust on the outside. Not like anyone should care much in Nassau since no one lives within half a mile of the place there, and not like FCR’s initial designs in Brooklyn looked anything like what they ultimately built, but if you’re the type who gets off on vaportecture, go crazy.

Share this post:

The Decision 2013: Nassau Coliseum developer to be announced today

If you’ve been waiting impatiently to find out who’s going to get the rights to redevelop Nassau Coliseum — there has to be somebody who roots (or even bets) on development rights, right? — you only have a few more hours to wait: Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is expected to announce a winner sometime today. Get out your Madison Square Garden and/or Forest City Ratner officially licensed jerseys and caps, sit down, and watch this space.

UPDATE: You can stand back up, a cop got shot, so the press conference has been moved back until tomorrow.

Share this post:

Ratner promises “not a nickel” from public for Nassau Coliseum renovations

CNBC’s Squawk Box asked Brooklyn Nets minority owner and Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner if he’ll ask for public money to help with Nassau Coliseum if he wins the right to revamp that facility, and here’s what he said (according to Atlantic Yards Report’s transcription):

“What kind of subsidy will you ultimately be getting to do this?” Ratner was asked. “How much is the government going to have to put forward?

“This is one of those opposites,” Ratner replied. “We’re giving the municipality money, not a nickel from the municipality, all privately financed, all privately done. The county will make lot of money from this. In terms of economic impact and in terms of rent.”

Nothing for roads?

“One of the great things–it’s surrounded by a huge number of roads,” Ratner replied. “There’s millions of people that go by every day. There’s no infrastructure needed. After all, it was a Coliseum before and it is now, so no additional roads and so on. So, actually, it’s ready to be done, it is centrally located. I cannot emphasize what kind of incredible location it is and what kind of incredible population.”

Arena and stadium developers make “no public money” promises all the time when they end up asking for hidden subsidies like tax kickbacks, so we’ll see. (Or at least we’ll see, if Ratner beats out Madison Square Garden for the rights to take over the Coliseum, something that’s expected to be announced in coming weeks.) I’m not going to link to the original CNBC page because eeeagh autoplayed video, but here’s a lovely embedded video if you want to watch Ratner himself say it with his own two lips:

Share this post: