Friday roundup: Phoenix to maybe get soccer stadium/robot factory, Raiders roof is delayed, Def Leppard and Hamilton face off over who’s old and smelly

Happy Friday! I have no meta-commentary to add this week, but hopefully when you have Def Leppard getting into a flamewar with Canadian elected officials over arena smells, you need no prelude:

  • The Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation, long rumored as the possible site of a Phoenix Rising F.C. soccer stadium, has released an image of a proposed “$4 billion sports, technology and entertainment district” that indeed seems to show a soccer stadium, though honestly it looks a little small just from the rendering. There’s also an amazing image of people testing out robots and what looks like robot dogs, which surely will be the growth industry of the rest of the century, because I bet robot dogs don’t have an enormous carbon footprint or anything.
  • The Las Vegas Raiders are now projecting $478 million in personal seat license sales for their new stadium, up from an initial projection of $250 million. (All this money will go to defray Raiders owner Mark Davis’s costs, not the state of Nevada’s, because why would revenues from a publicly funded stadium go to the public? That’s crazy talk!) Unfortunately, the stadium might not be ready on time thanks to its roof behind months behind schedule, which could cause damage to the already-built parts of the stadium if it rains, but all those Raiders fans in Vegas (or people in Vegas anticipating selling their seats to out-of-towners who’ve come to see their home teams on road trips) will surely be patient after shelling out as much as $75,000 for PSLs.
  • Charlotte is still up for giving Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper $110 million to renovate his NFL stadium to make it more amenable to hosting an MLS franchise, but may want Tepper to agree to a lease extension first. Given that the last time Charlotte gave the Panthers money for stadium upgrades it was $87.5 million for a six-year extension, the city could maybe keep the team in town through 2027 this way. At this point, it might have been cheaper for the city just to buy the Panthers outright, thus guaranteeing the team stays in town while not only avoiding all these continual renovation fees but also getting to collect all that NFL revenue for itself. (Ha ha ha, just kidding, the NFL outlawed that years ago, no doubt partly to avoid anyone from trying exactly this scenario.)
  • The Atlanta Braves‘ stadium got a new name thanks to a bank merger, and the bank got lots of free publicity when news outlets wrote about the new name, but hell if I’m going to participate in that, so google it if you really must know.
  • A Virginia state delegate wants to reboot Virginia Beach’s failed arena plans by setting up a state-run authority to attempt to build a new arena somewhere in the Hampton Roads region, which includes both Virginia Beach and Norfolk. “The hardest part is the financing mechanism behind it,” said Norfolk interim economic development director Jared Chalk, which, yeah, no kidding.
  • Denver is helping build a new rodeo arena, and as a Denverite subhead notes, “The city says it won’t reveal how much taxpayers could be on the hook for because that would be bad for taxpayers.”
  • Kalamazoo is maybe building a $110 million arena to host concerts and something called “rocket football,” which I’m not even going to google because it would almost certainly be a disappointment compared to what I’m imagining.
  • Anaheim is considering rebating $180 million (maybe, I’m going by what one councilmember said) in future tax revenues to hotel developers so that Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim Ducks players will stay in them? Don’t the Angels and Ducks players own houses locally? What is even happening?
  • And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for: A video from last summer has surfaced showing Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott complaining that Hamilton, Ontario’s arena is “old” and “stinks like a 10,000 asses stink,” to which Hamilton councillor Jason Farr replied that Def Leppard is “also old and stinks.” Clearly one of them needs to be torn down and entirely replaced! It worked for Foreigner!

Friday roundup: New stadium demands in Calgary, 90% shortfall in promised Raiders jobs, corporate subsidies found (yet again) to do squat-all to create jobs

Happy Friday! Is Australia still on fire? (Checks.) Cool, I’m sure we’ll be ready to pay attention to that again as soon as there are some more images of adorable thirsty koalas.

In the meantime, news on some slightly less apocalyptic slow-moving catastrophes:

  • CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the Calgary Stampeders deserve “a state-of-the-art, beautiful stadium” but he’ll “take my queues [sic, seriously, Montreal Gazette, you’re supposed to be an English-language paper]” from team execs for when “they think it’s time for me to be a guy who makes a little noise and tries to stimulate a positive discussion.” Yep, that’s a sports league commissioner’s job! Why a new stadium is Calgary’s job and not the Stampeders owners’ job is less clear, but given that the team owners did such a good job at extracting public money for an arena for the Flames (which they also own), you know they’re going to be jonesing for a sequel. (In fact, a Stampeders stadium was originally part of the Flames plan before Mayor Naheed Nenshi rejected it as too expensive and only would approve the Flames part, so maybe this is just a case of a team owner deciding it’s easier to get sports projects approved in serial rather than in parallel.)
  • It’s now been 100 days since Nashville Mayor John Cooper called a halt to Nashville S.C.‘s stadium construction, and Cooper is still not answering questions about when it may resume. Previous indications were that he’s refusing to issue demolition permits in order to renegotiate who’ll pay for cost overruns, but it would be kind of cool if he’s just realized that he can take advantage of MLS having approved a Nashville expansion franchise before everything was signed off on regarding public stadium subsidies by just declining to build the stadium and keeping the team. (Nashville S.C. will have to play in a 21-year-old NFL stadium until then, boo hoo.)
  • Las Vegas Raiders stadium proponents promised it would create 18,700 construction jobs, and now it’s only creating 1,655 jobs, and the stadium boosters say this doesn’t count off-site workers like “support staff at construction companies, architects and engineers, and equipment and service suppliers,” but really it’s more about how most of those 18,700 jobs were never full-time anyway. At least state senator Aaron Ford can sleep at night knowing he didn’t deny a single construction worker a job; guess he isn’t kept up by thinking of any of the people who were denied jobs by virtue of the state of Nevada having $750 million less to spend on other things.
  • 161st Street Business Improvement Director Cary Goodman has a plan for a new NYC F.C. stadium in the Bronx to benefit the local community by having it be owned by the local community, so that “when naming rights are sold, when broadcast fees are collected, when merchandising agreements are made, or when sponsorships and suites are sold, revenue would pour into the [community-owned] corporation and be distributed as dividends accordingly.” This sounds great, except that broadcast fees don’t go to a stadium, they go to the team that plays in a stadium, and also things like sponsorships and suites and naming rights are exactly the kind of revenues that the NYC F.C. owners would be building a stadium in order to collect, so it’s pretty unlikely they’d agree to hand it over to Bronx residents. We really gotta get over the misconception that stadiums make money, people; playing in stadiums that somebody else built for you is where the real profit is, and don’t anyone forget it.
  • Reporters in Kansas City are still asking Royals owner John Sherman if he’d like a downtown baseball stadium, and Sherman is still saying sure, man. (See what I did there? Huh? Huh?) This article also features a quote about how great a downtown ballpark would be from an executive vice president of Vantrust Real Estate, which owns lots of downtown properties; it must be nice to be rich and get to have your Christmas present wish lists printed on local journalism sites as if they’re news.
  • A new study of business tax incentives found that state and local governments spend $30 billion a year on them, with no measurable effect on job growth. Also, most of the benefits flow to a relatively small number of large firms (good luck getting a tax break for your pizzeria), and some states spend more on corporate tax breaks than they collect in corporate taxes, with five (Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming) spending an average of $44 per resident on tax breaks even though they have collect no state corporate income tax at all. (The biggest spenders on a per-capita basis: Michigan, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire.) Surely local elected officials will now take a hard look at the cost of these subsidies and ha ha, no, even when tax breaks are proven failures it takes decades before anyone might notice and do anything about them, so don’t hold your breath that anyone is going to see the light just because of one more study, at least not unless it’s accompanied by angry mobs with pitchforks.

Missouri gov pulls brakes on St. Louis MLS team’s $30m tax credit request, now what?

[record scratch noise]:

State officials still want a private ownership group to build a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis, but they aren’t going to funnel $30 million in tax credits to help pay for it…

Rather than the $30 million, the administration is expected to support a $5.7 million infusion of state money if the ownership group asks.

This is unexpected, but maybe shouldn’t be: As KMOV reports, while the as-yet-unnamed MLS team has long been expecting $30 million in state tax credits as part of a roughly $60 million stadium subsidy from the city and state combined, the Missouri Development Finance Board has an annual cap of $10 million in credits that it can hand out, which makes giving out $30 million to the soccer team owners over two years kind of problematic. Approval of three state cabinet officials would have been needed to lift the cap, and that didn’t happen, so in effect the MDFB said, “We only have $5.7 million left, it’s yours if you want it.”

This is kind of a surprise, as Gov. Mike Parson’s office had previously expressed interest in working out a tax credit deal, and so far as I can tell no one had indicated that the tax credit cap would be an issue before now. There’s been no response from the team owners to this new roadblock, but given that the new stadium is supposed to be open by March 2022, there’ll need to be some resolution to this funding gap sooner than later.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office released this statement:

The City of St. Louis and Mayor Krewson remain incredibly excited about having an MLS team. We don’t believe the state’s decision will interfere with our support of the #MLS4TheLou ownership group and their commitment to this project. It’s a more than $460 million private investment in Downtown West that will anchor a revitalized mixed-use district, create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, and unite the City around this global sport. Bring on 2022!

So does that mean that Krewson thinks the state will eventually find $30 million in tax credit money, even if it takes a few more years? Or that the city will cover the state’s share? (It was technically the city that was asking for the credits on the team’s behalf.) Or that the team owners will move ahead with the project even without the full $30 million, in which case why was everybody saying the $30 million in state money was necessary in the first place? So very many important questions — hopefully we’ll have some answers soon, so watch this space.

Friday roundup: Nashville and Miami stadiums still on hold, cable bubble may finally be bursting, minor-league contraction war heats up

Happy Scottish Independence Day! And now for the rest of the news:

Charlotte mayor vows $110m in city funds to help Panthers’ billionaire owner gussy up stadium for MLS

There’s a smidge of new information on the city of Charlotte’s previously revealed plans to spend $100-200 million on renovations to the Carolina Panthers‘ stadium so that Panthers owner David Tepper can add an MLS expansion franchise that seems destined to be officially announced any day now: According to a November letter from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles to MLS commissioner Don Garber,

Our plans together include … Modifications to Bank of America Stadium to support MLS and provide a world-class fan experience … $110 million in hospitality funds set aside to help ensure a successful venture over the next many years

Lyles neglected to mention that she’ll need the Charlotte city council’s approval to spend $110 million in tax money, but then, that doesn’t seem like it’ll be an obstacle.

Still unexplained is what exactly Tepper needs $110 million in public money for — both in the sense of how he’ll spend it (the Panthers’ stadium is just 23 years old and freshly renovated with the help of previous rounds of tax money) and in the sense of If this billionaire hedge fund manager can afford to drop $300 million on an MLS expansion franchise, why can’t he foot the bill for $110 million in stadium upgrades as well? Which also raises the question of whether the $110 million is really just underwriting Tepper’s record-breaking MLS expansion fee, which would mean the city of Charlotte would be spending public dollars just to shore up the league’s none-dare-call-it-Ponzi model. Or, as Lyles puts it, being “a welcoming, diverse and inclusive community to the league’s 30th team.” Maybe “diverse” here means “not all large bills”?

Oklahoma City voters overwhelmingly approve $152m for Thunder arena and USL stadium, but maybe really just wanted parks

Oklahoma City voters overwhelmingly approved a 1% sales tax hike for the next eight years to fund $978 million worth of parks, social service centers, a new soccer stadium for the USL’s OKC Energy, and upgrades to the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s arena. The MAPS 4 plan — the fourth (duh) in a series of sales-tax hikes that have funded downtown development, school renovations, streetcars, and building the basketball arena in the first place — passed by a 72-28% margin.

As with any of these grab-bag proposals, it’s tough to judge from the results exactly what the public is supporting here: Do they think the city needs $140 million worth of new parks, or the Thunder need $115 million worth of arena renovations, or both? Do they think sales taxes — which are considered regressive because low-income residents pay a higher percentage of their income than high-income residents do — are the best way to do it, or is this just the only plan they’ve been presented with? We’ll never know, unless someone does way more detailed polling. (A guy on Facebook says residents should be allowed to vote on each element separately, but Mayor David Holt says that “something for everyone” is exactly how MAPS was designed, which you can see why it would be.)

Regardless, the latest iteration of MAPS means the public price tag of building and upgrading the Thunder arena now reaches a total of $325 million after its third installment of MAPS cash, and OKC Energy will be getting a new 10,000-seat $37 million stadium (expandable if the city wins an MLS expansion franchise, no doubt with MAPS 5 money) at taxpayer expense. Good thing private stadium funding is the trend, or we might be talking about some real money!

Friday roundup: Congress gets riled up over minor-league contraction, Calgary official proposes redirecting Flames cash, plus what’s the deal with that Star Trek redevelopment bomb anyway?

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers, who if they haven’t yet may want to read the New Yorker’s thoughtful takedown of the myths that the holiday was built on. Or there’s always the movie version, which has fewer historical details but is shorter and features a singing turkey.

And speaking of turkeys, how are our favorite stadium and arena deals faring this holiday week?

Friday roundup: Developers pay locals $25 each to hold pro-arena signs, a smoking and farting winged horse team logo, and do you even need a third thing after those two?

It’s been another week of pretty bad news, topped off by a private equity firm somehow buying the entirety of .org domains, meaning every nonprofit website will now have to be licensed from an entity whose sole mission is to squeeze as much money from them as possible. The stadium and arena news, by contrast, isn’t all terrible, so maybe it qualifies as cheery? You be the judge:

  • The Richmond city council voted Tuesday to put off a decision on a $1.5 billion downtown development that would include a new arena (public cost: $350 million), after a contentious hearing where both supporters and opponents held signs espousing their opinions. Or espousing somebody’s opinions, anyway: Some locals holding “yes” signs later reported that the project’s developers paid them $25 a pop to do so. City council president Michelle Mosby replied that if anything people were just reimbursed gas money, which 1) only makes sense if everyone there drove their own car and had to travel like 250 miles round trip to get to the hearing and 2) isn’t really any less corrosive of democracy anyway.
  • If you’ve been wondering how Inter Miami plans to build a temporary 18,000-seat stadium in Fort Lauderdale (later to be turned into a practice field) between now and March and figured it would have to involve throwing up a bunch of cheap metal bleachers, now there’s video of construction workers doing exactly that. Also laying down the sod for the field, which I thought usually takes place after the stadium is more or less built, but I guess if they can build the stadium without treading on the field, no harm in doing so now. This all raises questions of whether the stadium will feel excessively crappy, and if not why more soccer teams can’t just build cheap quickie stadiums like this without the need for public money; I guess we’ll know the answer by springtime one way or another.
  • When the state of Minnesota agreed to pay for the Vikings‘ new stadium with cigarette revenue after electronic pulltab gambling money didn’t come in as expected, it still kept collecting the gambling cash; and now that e-pulltabs (which are just lottery tickets, only on a tablet) have taken off, there’s debate over what to do with the cash that the state is collecting, about $5 million this year but projected to rise to $51 million by 2023. The Vikings owners want the money used to pay off their stadium debt early, while some lawmakers would like to use the revenue to fund other projects or reduce taxes on charitable gambling institutions now that it’s no longer needed — all are valid options, but it’s important to remember that the state already paid for most of the stadium, this is just arguing over what to do with the zombie tax that was left over after the financing plan was changed. (It would also be nice to know if e-pulltab gambling has cannibalized revenues from other gambling options, thus making this less of a windfall, but modern journalists have no time for such trivialities.)
  • The city of Wichita is spending $77 million (plus free land) on a Triple-A baseball stadium to steal the Baby Cakes from New Orleans, and have been rewarded with the Wichita Wind Surge, a name that’s supposed to reference the city’s aviation history or something but actually means “storm surge,” which isn’t a thing that they have in landlocked Kansas? It also features a logo that looks like a horse and a fly got caught in a transporter accident, which the team’s designer explained with “The nice thing about Pegasus, however, to me, was the fact that it’s got a horse in there.” A local designer responded with a sketch of a winged horse smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, and farting, which by all accounts is much more popular with Wichitans. (The sketch is, I mean, though I’d love to see a poll asking Wichitans, “Which do you prefer, the name Wichita Wind Surge or farting?”)
  • San Diego State University’s plan to buy the city’s old football stadium and its surrounding land for $87.7 million has hit some “speed bumps,” namely that city economists have determined that the price could be below the land’s market value and $10 million of the sale price would have to be set aside for infrastructure improvements for the university’s development. “There’s also the matter of the $1-per-month lease that, as proposed, may not adequately protect the city from expenses or legal risk,” notes the San Diego Union-Tribune. Given all these uncertainties, the city’s independent budget analyst called SDSU’s proposed March 27 deadline “very challenging,” not that that’s stopped city councils before.
  • Saskatoon has enough room under its debt limit to finance either a new central library or a new sports arena, and regardless of what you think of how badly Saskatooners need a new library, it’s still a pretty strong example of how opportunity costs work.
  • The Phoenix Suns‘ new practice facility being built with the help of public money will include a golf simulator for players, because of course it will.
  • Speaking of Phoenix, the Arizona Republic has revealed what the Diamondbacks owners want in a new stadium; the original article is paywalled, but for once Ballpark Digest‘s propensity for just straight-up paraphrasing other sites’ reporting comes in handy, revealing that team owners want a 36,000-  to 42,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof and surrounded by a 45- to 70-acre mixed-use development and a 5,000-seat concert venue and good public transit and full control of naming-rights revenue and public cost-sharing on ballpark repairs. And a pony.
  • Will Raiders football hike your home value?” asks the Nevada Current, apparently because “Is the moon made of green cheese?” had already been taken.
  • And last but certainly not least, your weekly vaportecture roundup: The New Orleans Saints‘ $450 million renovation of the Superdome (two-thirds paid for by taxpayers) will include field-level open-air end zone spaces where fans have ample room enjoy rendered people’s propensity for flinging their arms in the air! The new Halifax Schooners stadium designs lack the woman hailing a cab and players playing two different sports at once from previous renderings, but do seem to still allow fans to just wander onto the field if they want! It should come as no surprise to anyone that even Chuck D can do a better job of drawing than this.

Every city in U.S. now building a soccer stadium, or at least it seems like it

Some days it seems like this site is turning into Soccer Pitch of Schemes. I mean, seriously, check this out:

The reason for this flood of soccer stadium building has less to do with soccer being the sport of millennials or whatever, and more to do with there being umpteen gazillion soccer teams in the U.S. now, and more on the way, and lots of them not having brand-new stadiums of their own because sometimes there just isn’t time to do that before you have to collect some more expansion fees, you know? Which should cut both ways — if MLS and the USL alike are going to expand to every city with its own post office, you’d think that cities wouldn’t need to spend big bucks on stadium funding in order to have a shot at a franchise — but here we have Switchbacks president Nick Ragain saying of the Colorado Springs vote that “what it means is we have a long-term professional soccer team in Colorado Springs,” and nobody in the media rolling their eyes, so I guess these are questions that are not asked in polite society.

And speaking of soccer and the media not rolling their eyes, yes, an Argentine football team celebrated the reopening of its stadium with a giant holographic flaming lion as many of you have emailed and tweeted at me, but also it’s not really a hologram and fans in the stadium couldn’t even see it except on TV screens. Number of news articles pointing this out: one; number of news articles going “Oooooh, fiery lion!”: more than I can count.

Sacramento council to vote on turning Burkle’s stadium subsidy into a “loan,” which isn’t better, but also probably isn’t worse

The Sacramento city council is set to vote tomorrow on a plan to loan $27 million to Ron Burkle, owner of the new Sacramento Republic F.C. MLS franchise, for roads and other traffic and transit upgrades around his new stadium, and “repay” it using Burkle’s own property taxes on development surrounding the stadium. Said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is proposing the loan:

“For me as mayor, there is one overriding question: Is an infrastructure loan that clinched the deal to get Major League Soccer and help reverse decades of little progress in the railyards good for the city? I have no doubt the answer is yes.”

That seems to imply that any size public loan to a private entity would be good enough for Steinberg — who can put a price on reversing decades of little progress? — but whatever, it’s best not to think to hard about what politicians say when politicianing.

This is, of course, tax increment financing, which we’ve covered to death here previously. (Tl;dr version: No, it’s not “new money.”) On the bright side, sort of, the tax increment cash was already set to go to Burkle under his previous agreement to get $33 million in city funding for his stadium; now instead of having to wait to get it year by year, the city would loan him the money up front and he’d pay it back by letting the city have the taxes they would normally collect anyway. The only added risk, really, is that Burkle defaults on the loan, which seems unlikely, since presumably he’ll put up as collateral—

The investor group will be required to put up a yet-to-be determined collateral.

Sigh. Well, it’s not too much worse than the original deal. Probably. Feel free to read the amendment being voted on tomorrow yourself and see if you can find any more potential pitfalls.