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:
Plans for a minor-league hockey arena in Palm Springs have “stopped” thanks to the pandemic, according to city manager David Ready, but it’s not immediately clear whether that means just the timeline has been delayed or the entire project is up in the air, if that’s even a distinction anymore.
Also up in the air: exact plans for David Beckham’s Inter Miami stadium complex, details of which were released this week but without any actual details. It looks like Inter will be playing in its “temporary” stadium in Fort Lauderdale for at least the next several years, if not indefinitely, which is absolutely par for Beckham’s Miami stadium campaign ever since he opened that cursed mummy’s tomb.
Over in Texas, meanwhile, which is seeing its own spike in virus cases, college football players are testing positive in bunches, which could put the season at risk, though I suppose there are always more people in Texas who want to play football if they wanted to go to 200-player rosters.
Also seeing a spike in positive coronavirus tests: construction workers at the new Los Angeles Rams and Chargers stadium. None of this should be surprising — obviously reopening work sites is going to increase the spread of the virus, and equally obviously more people are going to show up sick to work (whether they have symptoms yet or not) if there are more people in the general community who have it. The plan was supposed to be to first mitigate the number of infections through lockdowns, and then once cases were at a low level keep them under control via widespread testing and contact tracing, but since apparently most states have decided to reopen before waiting for that second part, it looks like much of America is going to have to prepare for the roller coaster.
Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is inching its way toward a late July restart, with games to be played at teams’ home stadiums, or in the case of the Toronto Blue Jays, probably their single-A ballpark, because Canada is still requiring two-week quarantines for anyone entering the country, though they did lift that for hockey. Location of the Blue Jays’ single-A ballpark? Florida, of course.
And yes, it’s looking more and more like outdoor transmission of the virus is a smaller risk than was initially feared so long as everyone wears masks — a conclusion reached in part from noting that there’s been no measurable spike in infections after last month’s police violence protests — but also note that Columbia University virus expert Jeffrey Shaman tempers that optimism by saying, “Beaches—you’ve got open air, sunshine, people spread out on blankets—that’s OK. A baseball stadium—people lined up shoulder to shoulder, semi-indoors, for hot dogs and beer and for crowded restrooms—I’m not so crazy about that.”
And as a reward for sitting through all that epidemiology news, here are a couple of fresh New York Islanders Belmont Park arena vaportecture images, which are mostly notable for conveying “loud” and “intimate” not through any actual innovations in arena geometry — the cheap seats still look a million miles from the action — but rather via having all the little CGI people raise their fists in the air in excitement! CGI people are so much easier to please than real people, even if they seem even less willing to wear their damn masks.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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: