As you may have noticed, I’m slightly interested in the massive human-created changes to Earth’s climate that are going to make many major cities uninhabitable soon via increased heat or sea level rise or both, so this CNBC article on sports venues at risk from climate change promised to check all of my boxes:
- Florida International University climate professor Henry Briceno predicts that the Miami Heat arena will flood with only two feet of sea level rise (expected as soon as 2060), while the Dolphins‘ stadium will flood at a three-foot rise. As for the site of David Beckham’s new Inter Miami stadium, Briceno remarked, “I don’t know if those guys know that they are building in the future Atlantis.”
- The San Diego Padres‘ stadium flooded in 2017, and the Quad Cities River Bandits stadium was made inaccessible thanks to flooding last year, and while both of those were because of torrential rains and not sea-level rise, more and more severe storms are expected to be a consequence of a warmed planet as well.
- Disappointingly, the article doesn’t talk much about what will happen to sports teams once the cities they play in are largely uninhabitable as a result of climate change — Phoenix isn’t going to be underwater ever, but it could be too hot to live in as soon as 2050.
And the article then pivots to what sports teams are doing to help combat climate change — including a long set of quotes from Allen Hershkowitz, the staff environmentalist the New York Yankees hired after he helped MLB come up with programs to claim “green” status and then called commissioner Bud Selig “the most influential environmental advocate in the history of sports” — though only one specific initiative is mentioned: The Dolphins are replacing disposable plastic cups with (presumably reusable) aluminum ones. That sounds great, but while plastics are indeed a pollution nightmare, in terms of carbon footprint they’re not all that much better for the planet than alternatives (reusability is more important than what cups are made of). And there’s no mention of what the carbon footprint was of these teams’ repeated building and upgrading of new stadiums, which is kind of a big omission when nearly a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions are related to construction.
The best way to keep sports from drowning themselves, really, would be for teams to play in whatever stadiums they already have and for fans to stay out of their cars and instead stay home and watch on the internet listen on the radio. Or maybe just play fewer games. Somebody ask Hershkowitz about that, maybe?
When San Diego city officials installed jagged rocks under a highway overpass near the Padres‘ Petco Park in April to prevent homeless people from sleeping there, many locals assumed it was an attempt to clear out homeless in advance of July’s MLB All-Star Game. City officials countered that the rocks were there at the request of local residents. The news site Voice of San Diego filed a public-records request to find out the truth, and duh, it was all about the All-Star Game:
Sherman Heights is never mentioned in dozens of emails exchanged between city staffers discussing the rock installation. Rather, the rocks were part of a larger effort to clean up the area prior to the July 12 All-Star Game and improve the flow of traffic to and from Petco Park. Early plans, emails show, called for rocks not only along Imperial Avenue, but also along two blocks of a wall lining Petco Park’s Tailgate Park as well as outside the New Central Library, all in an effort to deter camping and loitering near the ballpark during All-Star Game festivities…
John Casey, the city’s liaison with the Padres until March, took the lead on getting price quotes for the rocks. In multiple emails, he urged city staff to move the project along. “Any breakthroughs?” he wrote in a November email. “The Padres and SDPD are asking me when we can see the curbs painted red as well as the rocks at the underpass and Tailgate Park wall.”
In early January, Casey emailed City Traffic Engineer Linda Marabian and laid out a checklist of remaining work to be done before the All-Star Game.
“Back to the vision of Imperial as a Gateway to East Village,” he wrote. “The wrought iron fence has been installed on the wall at Tailgate Park and works well at discouraging loiterers. Remaining work in anticipation of the All Star game is: Rip Rap rocks under the I-5 overpass at Imperial on both sides of the street. Rip Rap rocks at the base of the Tailgate Park wall from 12th to 14th.”
The VoSD didn’t report on where the homeless went who have been displaced from their camp under the overpass. Wherever it is, one hopes that they appreciate it as one of the ancillary benefits of their city getting to host an All-Star Game.
The highlights, for those who can’t be bothered to click all the way through to the original San Diego Union-Tribune story:
Derris Devon McQuaig took legal title to the downtown ballpark away from the city and the Padres two years ago by walking into the San Diego County Recorder’s Office and submitting a properly filled-out deed transfer.
This is apparently known as a “wild deed,” and county officials are required to file them even when they are, for example, submitted by someone who clearly just wandered into the recorder’s office and painstakingly researched how to claim title to a major city property. The recorder’s office did notify the district attorney’s office, but the DA’s legal action against McQuaig was tossed out after he was ruled mentally incompetent and involuntarily committed to Patton State Hospital.
The actual impact of the deed transfer is expected to be pretty much nothing — one title lawyer worried that “if the report shows that this goofball over here put his name on your property, the bank is not going to lend you money,” but it didn’t cause problems when San Diego recently refinanced the Petco Park bonds — and eventually the city attorney is expected to be able to nullify McQuaig’s deed. So there’s not much here other than the hilarity that the Padres‘ stadium is now officially owned by a mental patient. That’s good enough hilarity for a Monday, though.
Just because this was proposed back in 1964 doesn’t mean that there was every really a serious chance of San Diego building a floating convertible baseball/football stadium for the Chargers and Padres, especially since the Padres were still a Pacific Coast League team at the time. Still, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the holy crapness of it all:
The Forbes baseball team value estimates are out, and they’re a doozy:
The average baseball team is now worth $744 million, 23% more than a year ago and the largest increase since we began tracking MLB finances in 1998. During the 2012 season, revenue (net of stadium debt service) rose 7%, to an average of $227 million per team. Operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) per team fell 9%, to $13.1 million, mainly due to higher player costs and stadium expenses.
Yeah, you read that right: Baseball teams are less profitable, but worth more. How’s that work? Forbes doesn’t exactly explain, but does note that both TV rights fees and revenue for MLB Advanced Media (baseball’s online arm) have been soaring, so presumably prospective team buyers are expecting that those revenue streams will keep growing in coming years, enough to outpace increased payroll costs. Though the way things are going there, player costs might just eat up any new revenues faster than owners are anticipating.
More likely is that last year’s sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion and the San Diego Padres for $800 million forced Forbes to recalibrate its entire scale upwards. Which is fine enough — new data points should be incorporated into the calculation — but it still doesn’t exactly explain why team values are soaring this much when profits are essentially flat.
The one thing that the Forbes numbers make even more clear is that TV and internet broadcast money is king right now: MLB is starting to become more like football, where a larger share of money is generated by people watching at home, rather than the more stadium-revenues-based model it’s traditionally been. How this will affect the business of the sport is complicated: Does it dilute the advantage of teams like the Yankees because everyone now has TV riches at their disposal, or give them more of an advantage because they can expect their cable contracts to outpace their competitors by an even greater margin? Does a team like the Oakland A’s (third to last in team value, but 5th in the league in profits at an estimated $27.5 million) or the Tampa Bay Rays (dead last in value, 19th in profits at $10 million) reconsider its stadium plans if access to eyeballs outweighs ability to put fannies in the seats? If nothing else, one thing should be clear: No teams are moving to San Antonio or Las Vegas anytime soon.