Friday roundup: OKC Thunder want their subsidies sooner, Indy Eleven want theirs later, let me repeat back your orders to make sure I have it right

I’ve already thanked everyone individually, but I’d like to give a collective shoutout to all the readers who signed up as FoS Supporters this membership cycle. The money you send translates directly into time I can spend covering stadium and arena news for you, and I remain extremely heartened by your support. If you sent me your mailing address, your magnets should be en route; if you didn’t, send me your mailing address already, these magnets aren’t going to ship themselves!

And speaking of covering stadium and arena news, let’s cover some stadium and arena news, why don’t we:

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Thursday roundup: NBA mulls expansion to raise quick cash, 60-year-old community-owned team sold to local rich dude, Crew may seek more tax breaks somehow

Happy pre-Christmas, everybody! (That’s the name for today, right? I really should Google that.) Here’s the stray news for the short holiday week:

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver has called expansion the league’s “manifest destiny” and said that “it’s caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion” (what “it”? shh, don’t ask questions, the important man is talking) but “not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.” The implication is after losing like $1.5 billion in revenue, some quick cash from expansion fees sounds real good about now, but Silver’s not going to be the one to say that out loud, not when it might make him look desperate, not when it’s expansion cities and prospective owners that should be begging him to expand, that’s just how this is supposed to work, you know.
  • The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, since 1958 run by a community-owned non-profit, have been sold to a local rich guy because, um, something about Covid. Also the non-profit’s chair, Tom Lehr, said “100% of the profits from the sale of the team to Third Base Ventures will be invested back into the team,” according to the Appleton Post-Crescent, which, what? This guy gets to buy the team, and also use the money he paid for it on the team as well? What is even happening.
  • The Columbus Crew‘s old stadium, which is set to become the team’s training ground plus public soccer fields, still belongs to the team while the land under it belongs to the state, and the team has to make $210,000 in payments in lieu of property taxes each year under a 2007 court settlement, but they’re working on a long-term lease now and a term sheet proposed by the team mentions “Ownership of existing MAPFRE Stadium to be discussed and examined in connection with real estate tax and other considerations,” and all this is a red flag but no one’s quite sure of what exactly. Maybe something that should have been considered before giving the Crew $98 million toward a new stadium? Ennnnh, that seems like a lot of work.
  • This year’s Rose Bowl is going to be played in Texas because that California has one of the nation’s worst coronavirus surges (Texas isn’t far behind, but Texas’s governor doesn’t care), and also this year’s Pro Bowl is going to be played on Madden, which warms my heart that our glorious future may finally arrive soon. If you’re wondering if the Pro Bowl had to be moved because its home stadium in Honolulu is on the verge of being condemned, nope, it was going to be in Las Vegas this year anyway, but, you know, Covid. Also, Honolulu’s outgoing mayor Kirk Caldwell warns that the city’s indoor arena is even older than the stadium and even though it’s getting a $43.6 million upgrade, “at some point you run out of life” and okay, yes, Caldwell’s plan for a $700 million replacement arena was already rejected and also he’s only mayor for another week, sorry, I don’t know why we’re actually talking about him.
  • There’s now an online petition against “any taxpayer funding being used to finance, construct, acquire, renovate, equip, enlarge, or operate a new baseball stadium within the City of Knoxville or Knox County.” Allow the debates over what counts as “taxpayer funding” to commence now!
  • If you want to work at F.C. Cincinnati‘s new stadium, they’re hiring! What about all the people who worked at the team’s old stadium, which actually averaged more fans per game than the new one will hold? Sorry, no room in the article for that!
  • The owners of the New York Yankees have agreed to provide ten $5,000 grants to local businesses suffering amid the pandemic — wait, seriously, $50,000? That’s roughly how much the Yankees pay Gerrit Cole for each batter he faces. “We are extremely appreciative of this support from the Yankees,” local bar owner Joe Bastone said, according to a statement issued by the Yankees, which ended up getting a bunch of media coverage out of it, all of it positive. Until now.
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Friday roundup: Titans seek overhaul of 21-year-old stadium, FC Cincy subsidy nears $100m, plus: bored sportswriters go rogue!

A quick programming note: The next two Friday roundups will be on Thursdays, since the next two Fridays are Christmas and New Year’s. Not that I’ll be doing much special those days — I’ve done pretty much nothing since March other than sit and stare at my laptop screen — but I’m doing this anyway as a courtesy to readers who may feel the need to go out and infect extended family members with a deadly disease or something.

And on to this week’s news remainders:

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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:

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Yankees threaten to halt own soccer stadium project unless bankrupt company cleans up garages that would be torn down anyway

The City, the web publication with the ungoogleable name that was funded with Craig Newmark’s guilt money over accidentally destroying newspapers, ran an article last night headlined “Yankee Stadium Parking Lot Woes Block Soccer Field Goal, Cost Taxpayers Millions.” This is a subject that should interest FoS readers on a couple of levels — the New York Yankees garage fiasco is a sad tale that has been ongoing for more than a decade now, while the NYC F.C. stadium plans are now almost two and a half years in and threatening to compete with the garage story for long-running fiascos — so I’m sorry to say that the headline is mostly wrong, and the part that isn’t wrong is incomplete.

The actual story is kind of interesting, though, as is what we can divine from the fact that this article even exists, so let’s tackle it piece by piece:

The Parks Department is threatening to terminate its lease with Bronx Parking Development Company LLC over the outfit’s defaults on $237 million in bonds issued in 2007 by the city Industrial Development Agency, documents show.

None of this should be surprising. Bronx Parking Development Company LLC was a bizarre concoction in the first place, a nonprofit shell company set up to sell parking spaces at $25 a pop to Yankees fans when there was plenty of cheaper parking nearby, not to mention two subway stations and a commuter rail station right next door. The company soon went into default on those $237 million in bonds (which were used to build still more garages — for some reason, somebody in the Yankees hierarchy 15-20 years ago thought New Yorkers were going to start driving everywhere) and stopped paying rent to the city, causing bondholders and city officials alike to squawk about the money they were owed.

It’s the bondholders, though, that have more to squawk about. The rent payments to the city — $3.2 million a year for 100 years, because yes, IDA agreed to a century-long lease with these bozos — amount to about $43 million in present value, which while real money, is a drop in the bucket compared to the nearly $700 million the city is already on the hook for with the Yankees stadium project. As the city’s Independent Budget Office noted back in 2013, “While the bonds were issued by the city’s Industrial Development Agency, the city is technically not responsible for repaying the bondholders.” So if the parking garages go belly-up, which they’ve been doing in slow motion for a decade now, most of the $237 million bag will be held by those people foolish enough to buy Yankees parking garage bonds.

Then there’s the soccer project, which is being pushed by the Yankees, who are co-owners of NYC F.C., but apparently team execs are claiming it can’t move forward with the plan because the parking doofuses are such doofuses:

Meanwhile, Yankees officials contend the company is stalling a move that could help pull it out of the red: a deal that includes razing a four-level parking structure on 153rd Street to make way for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium for NYCFC…

In the July 20 letter to the president of US Bank, Yankees attorney Michael Mellis complained of dilapidated conditions and security lapses at the 11 sprawling lots and parking structures, which hold nearly 9,300 spaces.

The parking company “has materially failed on all counts” on its obligations to maintain its lots in a “safe, secure, clean and reputable manner,” Mellis wrote. Among the problems cited: poor lighting, out-of-order elevators, dirty surfaces and vermin running wild.

The Yankees lawyer wrote that the ballclub will not give its needed consent for the soccer stadium deal until the parking company cleans up its act.

Yes, you read that right: The owners of the New York Yankees are saying they won’t agree to tear down unused parking garages so they can build a stadium for their own soccer team unless the failed company that it maneuvered to have operate the garages cleans them before demolition.

Clearly there’s something more going on here than meets the eye. One likely theory is that the soccer stadium project still faces numerous other obstacles, from an elevator company that won’t vacate its building until a new home is found to a highway bridge that needs to be decommissioned and nobody wants to take responsibility for, and throwing the garage operators under the bus is a convenient way to blame somebody else for NYC F.C.’s problems. (One of the few people The City got to comment on the record for this piece was local city councilmember Diana Ayala (D-Bronx), who said of the soccer stadium plan, “I know that there has been interest but to date no proposal has been introduced, and I have not heard from anyone related to this proposal in quite some time.”) Or maybe even get somebody to kill all the rats that are lurking uncomfortably near the Yankees’ stadium. It’s a win-win, or at least a we’ve-got-nothing-to-lose.

So back to that headline: The parking lot woes are indeed woeful, but while they’re costing the city “millions,” it’s not the $237 million mentioned at the top of the article, and it’s money that the city has pretty much written off years ago anyway. And they almost certainly have nothing to do with “blocking” the soccer stadium. Also, a “field goal” isn’t a term in soccer, so that’s a terrible play on words. I like my headline a lot better, though it is a bit wordy — maybe “Yankees Threaten To Blow Up Own Soccer Stadium Deal Over Garage Filth”? “Yanks To City: Drop Rats”? No wait, that’s a different story.

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Friday roundup: More Jaguars move threats, more bad convention center spending, time is an endless loop of human folly

It’s Friday again! And December, how did that happen? “Passage of time,” what manner of witchcraft are you speaking of? Time is an eternal, unchanging present of toil and suffering under the grip of unending plagues! Thus has it ever been!

This notwithstanding, there was some news this week, though in keeping with the theme, it looks an awful lot like the news every week:

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Friday roundup: Charlotte approves $35m in soccer subsidies, NYC spends $5m on stadium upgrades for team that may disappear, NBA joins NFL in welcoming fans back to giant virus stew

Even after dispensing with that crazy San Jose Sharks move threat story, there’s a ton of leftover news this week. So put down that amazing Defector article about how the British have fetishized the Magna Carta as a declaration of citizen rights when it’s really just about how the king can’t unreasonably tax 25 barons, and let’s get right to it:

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Austin FC light rail renderings show fans enjoying avoiding going to soccer match at all costs

Austin F.C. gave two KVUE staffers a tour of construction progress on their new stadium this week, which frankly mostly led to some boring photos of people standing around a half-finished soccer pitch in hard hats. But it did alert anyone who missed it to the fact that a couple of weeks back Capital Metro, Austin’s public transit agency, released new renderings of what the train to the new stadium will look like, if and when it’s built:

Definitely a lot going on here! Those malformed soccer-ball light fixtures (?) are quite the design touch, but as always, I’m more interested in what the people the renderer has chosen to populate the scene with are up to. There’s a young child who’s thought to bring his own soccer ball to the match, which surely won’t be a problem at all. There’s a grown man who’s thought to bring his own billy club, which, likewise. There’s another small child excitedly snapping a photo of the transit map, no doubt to find his way home since he’s already been abandoned by his parents. My favorite, though, may be the several people who are just lounging around on station benches, even though two trains are in the station and the game is about to start, because the McKalla light rail station is going to be the place to be in Austin’s future.

The train will also go to the airport, which is a lot more useful for most Austinites who may not care about going to a soccer match:

Nothing too exciting here, though the couple with the child in the stroller, obliviously blocking the entrance to where the doors will be when that train finishes pulling into the station, are notable. (Though extremely on-brand for couples with toddlers, in my experience.) Though … what’s the deal with that woman with the green rolling suitcase? Does she think that’s how people actually walk? Does she have some sort of terrible leg deformity? Does she need remedial lessons? I’m frankly concerned that someone put her in the clip-art package in the first place.

Austin voters just approved a property-tax hike to help fund a $7.1 billion expansion of Austin’s light rail, so the money is in place. Previous estimates are that adding a McKalla Place station on the existing red line would cost $13 million, ; at last word, Austin F.C. owner Anthony Precourt was set to pay for the new station, though he’s still getting $100 million in property tax breaks, so he can afford it. Maybe he can chip in to help green-luggage lady with her hip operation, too.

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Friday roundup: San Diego okays $1B arena complex, Manfred floats neutral-site World Series, and that time the Twins ran stadium ads featuring a kid who’d died from cancer

I am way too tired this morning from waiting for tranches of vote counts to drop to write an amusing intro, so let’s get straight to the news:

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Nashville SC envisions army of identically dressed clones going to its new stadium, feel the excitement!

I’m guessing everyone could use something lighthearted about now, so fortunately Nashville S.C. has released a new video of what its new stadium will look like, and it is a nightmarish uncanny valley of shambling Sims set to generic triumphant music:

Some of that goes by awful quick, so let’s stop and take a closer look at some screengrabs:

Normally stadium renderers like to depict fan wearing jerseys of players who will be long-retired by the time the stadium opens, but Nashville S.C. is an expansion team, so here they appear to have outfitted everyone in near-identical team-colored form-fitting long-sleeve t-shirts. Which makes a bit more sense when you realize that while the renderers have selected a carefully multicultural mix of fan-bots (though probably not the 38% of actual Nashville residents who are Black or Latinx), they are all the same age and body type, as if the stadium were being built on one of those Star Trek planets where everyone is young and jacked, plus they’ve even cured baldness.

Next is a super-fast flyby of the stadium interior. Let’s freeze the frame and see what that packed crowd is actually doing:

Okay, that’s not at all disturbing. About the most positive interpretation I can provide is all hail the blue and yellow smoke gods, which honestly isn’t very positive at all, so instead let’s focus on how the video board informing fans that they are watching “SOCCER” is dazzling enough to be visible right through an American flag, and in fact through part of the flagpole as well.

Fans throwing their hands in the air is, of course, renderingese for excitement!!!, so it’s important to show them doing so in every possible situation, whether it’s in an enclosed club where they can’t even see the pitch thanks to fans outside standing in their way:

Or even in an entirely enclosed club where no one can see the match at all:

Though maybe that one fan-bot is actually cheering the American football game that’s displayed on one of the video screens, for the benefit of people who paid to go to a soccer game so they could sit in a simulated airport lounge and watch the Titans on TV.

Or, fans can always take a break from the game and watch a guy strum a single chord on an open-stringed acoustic guitar, the only thing he can manage what with his left hand busy holding up his instrument after he forgot to bring a guitar strap:

The team also released some new still frame renderings, which are … less disturbing? Differently disturbing?

I’m concerned what kind of argument led the identically dressed redheads to be not speaking to each other, but at least there’s a wider variety of dress styles here. Look, at the far left there’s even a woman wearing a tank top and shorts! Did anyone else dress that way for the game?

Okay, there’s … the exact same woman. In the exact same position. Maybe she’s a statue? That would explain why she’s dressed for midsummer when the guy she’s talking to/trying to flee is wearing a heavy jacket, and another guy nearby is wearing a down vest. Lousy Smarch weather!

We know by now why all these knee-slappers end up hidden in the Where’s Waldo? universe of stadium vaportecture: Renderers are generally on a short clock and relying on a limited supply of “entourage” (clip-art fans) to excite their sports team clients whose attention to detail isn’t all that great, so it becomes more about the overall feel of the crowd on a quick flyby than the actual specifics. Which admittedly calls into question why anyone should take any of these renderings seriously when they’re just about Shock & Awe, but presumably team execs are thinking — such that they’re thinking anything — that these images will speak directly to some lizard-brain sense of “oooh, that looks fun!” even if the details go hilariously awry. Maybe next time they can sneak in Batman, and see if anyone will even notice.

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