- The group trying to force a public referendum on Phoenix Suns arena subsidies threw in the towel this week, after the city promised a court battle on the grounds that spending $168 million in tax money on renovating an arena is not a “legislative act.” The lesson: If your opponent doesn’t have deep pockets, threaten to sue them into oblivion. (Side lesson from the Suns mess: Elected officials always have their price, and it’s usually pretty cheap.)
- Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said he’d “love to put some sort of roof” on his stadium so it could host the Final Four, and because this is 2019, nobody can tell if he was kidding.
- David Beckham’s Inter Miami has been turned away by both the Miami Marlins and Dolphins to share digs temporarily in 2020, thanks to the problems of scheduling MLS games around the MLB or NFL schedules, leaving the team with a mystery “preferred site” that team co-owner Jorge Mas promised to reveal in “late February, early March.”
- Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis says he is “not frustrated” about not having a place to play in 2019, indicating it’s his “preference” to stay in the Bay Area but that he has “other options” as well. In other words, Mark Davis probably doesn’t have any better idea than the rest of us where the Raiders will open the 2019 season, which is just seven months away.
- Sorry if I failed to keep you up on the Queensboro F.C. saga, but the city of New York late last month signed a letter of intent that proposes two scenarios for the contested Willets Point neighborhood, one with a minor-league soccer stadium, one without. In other words, nothing has been decided at all, so feel free to go back to ignoring this story until somebody actually takes a step toward putting concrete plans in motion, or at least releases some cool vaportecture renderings.
- Tottenham Hotspur stadium opening update: April, maybe.
- In anticipation of the arrival of the Boston Red Sox‘ Triple-A team in Worcester, the Worcester Business Journal has taken an exhaustive look at how funding a new minor-league ballpark worked out for nearby Manchester, New Hampshire and eleven other cities. The answer: really, really not well at all, with the new stadiums sparking little of the promised neighboring development. On the glass-partly-full side, Southern New Hampshire University business professor Doug Blais does say of building sports venues, “It’s much easier to say it’s been successful at a $25-million price point rather than a $100-million price point”; unfortunately, Worcester is on the hook for more than $90 million.
- And here’s an exhaustive look from the Kansas City Star at some Chiefs tax returns that were briefly made public; no earth-shattering stadium subsidy news, but it is an excellent explanation of how easy it is to make a bundle owning an NFL team, regardless of whether you win games or not.
- And here’s an article from Fast Company about how stadiums can be good things for municipalities, because look at what the Roman amphitheater in Arles has done for that French city. Never let it be said that I do not provide you with links to the full breadth of stadium coverage.
Now that David Beckham and Jorge Mas’s Inter Miami MLS expansion team has a stadium — well, a stadium plan — okay, the ability to take a stadium plan to the city commission, which may or may not vote for it — it’s time for the owners to figure out where the hell the team will play while waiting for its new home to be built (or not). According to Mas:
“From the beginning I’ve said that our options are Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium, [Florida International University]. We’ve looked at potentially playing some games up at FAU [Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton], more maybe geared towards a broader fanbase in terms of South Florida. This is a beautiful facility here [at Marlins Park]; we’re in conversations with all of the groups involved. Personally, I like this facility, I wouldn’t mind being here. The big advantage here is we’re a Miami team and this is in the city of Miami.”
If these are such great options, it’s tempting to suggest that maybe Inter Miami could just, you know, play at one of them for good and forget about the team’s long, circuitous path toward building a soccer-only stadium. Though if Beckham and Mas are going to pay for it, then it’s their business if they want to throw money at a new stadium when there are old ones that are “beautiful.” (Hey, he said it about Marlins Park, not me.)
One big plus for Marlins Park as a soccer venue: The way the Marlins draw fans, even MLS crowds might make the 36,000-seat stadium feel full by comparison!
And in yesterday’s stadium- and arena-related election results:
- David Beckham’s Inter Miami stadium plan will move forward after 60% of Miami voters approved building a soccer venue atop city-owned Melreese golf course. Though as the Miami Herald notes, it will only move forward as far as the city commission, and “those votes were far from assured,” with a four-out-of-five-vote supermajority required for passage. There’s still time for Beckham to grab defeat from the jaws of victory here!
- San Diego voters appear to have approved San Diego State University’s expansion plans to the site of the old Chargers stadium, with 55% in favor as votes continue to be counted. Only 29% are currently in favor of the competing plan to build a “Soccer City” MLS complex on the site.
- Inglewood Mayor James Butts was reelected in a landslide, so the Los Angeles Clippers‘ arena plans will continue to move forward, though it still faces a legal challenge.
Next up: Next Wednesday’s big Calgary vote on whether to support the city’s 2026 Olympic bid. Remember to double all results and add 30!
Happy U.S. election day, when Americans will be waiting up to learn the fate of a bunch of stadium and arena proposals! And the direction of an entire nation, but this site doesn’t have time for that, so on with tonight’s sports venue scorecard:
- Miami voters will decide on Referendum 1, which would allow the city of Miami to waive competitive bidding and give David Beckham the right to negotiate a 99-year lease on the city-owned Melreese golf course, for the purpose of building a stadium there for his Inter Miami MLS club. Polls close at 7 pm Eastern; this being Florida, however, there’s always a good chance no one will know the results until December.
- In San Diego, voters will be faced with two competing ballot initiatives: Measure E, which would have the city lease 253 acres of land on the Chargers‘ former stadium and practice sites to developers of the proposed Soccer City, which would include a soccer stadium and other stuff; and Measure G, which would have the city sell the land to San Diego State University for a new campus, including a new college football stadium. Polls show Measure G winning and Measure E trailing; if both measures get a majority, whichever gets more votes will win; if neither measure wins, it’ll be left up to the mayor to determine what to do with the site. The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board has declared that neither measure is worth voting for, while letter writers to the paper — yes, there are still people who express their opinions by writing letters to newspapers, in 2018! — are all over the place in how to best game the system. San Diego polls close at 8 pm Pacific, so expect to wait up for this one.
- Inglewood will elect a mayor today, and with incumbent James Butts in favor of a new Los Angeles Clippers arena and challenger Marc Little opposed, the outcome will be important for the city’s sports future. Polls close at 8 pm Pacific here as well, but a mayoral race is high-profile enough that we could see earlier projections.
- Contrary to what I implied on Friday, Columbus voters will not be deciding on a 7% ticket tax that would apply to all large sports and entertainment venues — but maybe not Ohio State University football, nobody’s actually sure — and use the proceeds to fund arts programs and the Blue Jackets arena, because while a vote is indeed coming up, it’s a council vote, not a public referendum. A completely unscientific poll of Columbus Business Journal readers shows massive opposition to the measure, but even if that were a valid measure, the city council can still do whatever it wants, because representative democracy, yay!
Friday roundup: Vegas MLB rumors, North American soccer superleague rumors, and everything just costs untold billions of dollars now, get used to it
I published two long articles yesterday — one on sports stadium and arena deals that haven’t sucked too badly, one on a particular non-sports subsidy deal that looks to be sucking pretty hard — so I wasn’t able to post anything here, despite a couple of news items that might have warranted their own FoS posts. But as the saying goes, Thursday omissions bring a shower of Friday news briefs (please don’t tell me that’s not a saying, because it is now), so let’s dig in:
- A Las Vegas blogger has tweeted that the Rio hotel-casino could be demolished and replaced by a Major League Baseball stadium, so now everybody’s talking about Las Vegas getting an expansion team, along with Portland and Montreal and I forget who else. (San Antonio? Charlotte? Half of Mexico?) Just imagine how frenzied this would be if commissioner Rob Manfred were talking about expansion on a faster timetable than “in my lifetime,” or if he were older than 60 or suffering from a terminal illness or something.
- Columbus is still considering a 7% ticket tax hike, but all residents can focus on is that 30% of the proceeds will go to bail out the Blue Jackets‘ already bailed-out arena, I can’t imagine why.
- New York Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky says he expects construction to begin on a new arena at Belmont Park next May. That would be a pretty quick timetable since the state’s environmental impact report isn’t even scheduled to be completed until early in 2019, and presumably there will be some kind of public comment period after that. But then again, maybe this will just be rammed through with no debate despite the land being provided by the state at as much as a $300 million discount. I don’t think this has to go through the state legislature, just the state-run Empire State Development corporation, so you should probably bet the under on public oversight.
- The Carolina Panthers stadium was built on the site of Charlotte’s first known lynching. (The linked article manages to mention both Colin Kaepernick and Donald Trump, because of course it does.)
- Speaking of ticket taxes, a Nashville councilmember is proposing raising them at the new MLS stadium there and using the proceeds to help pay off the city’s share of construction costs. Nashville S.C. ownership is opposed, saying “this kind of after-the-fact tinkering would make the deal worse for soccer fans and set a bad precedent for the city,” neither of which is true (pssst sports teams already set prices as high as they can regardless of ticket taxes) but it’s totally what you’d expect them to say.
- The projected cost of the Tokyo Olympics has now risen from $7.3 billion to $25 billion over the past five years .“It’s the most amazing thing that the Olympic games are the only type of megaproject to always exceed their budget,” Olympic finance expert Bent Flyvberg told the Associated Press. I would say that the fact that cities keep bidding for the Olympics despite this fact is even slightly more amazing, but they’re both pretty incredible.
- The Oakland Raiders promised that their stadium project in Las Vegas would provide 18,700 construction jobs, but right now only about 650 workers are involved in construction at the site, and over its first year the project has employed the full-time equivalent of just 195 workers. Nevada really should have gotten that promise in writing.
- The head of Mexico’s La Liga MX says that after the 2026 World Cup jointly hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, maybe the three nations’ pro soccer leagues will merge to form one mammoth soccer league. This isn’t a terrible idea on the face of it — Mexico has the soccer talent, the U.S. has the fan spending money, and Canada has, I guess, donuts — but as it would require MLS owners to share their league with a bunch of other team owners who didn’t pay the $150 million expansion fee, and probably accept some kind of tiered promotion/relegation system as well to avoid having a 50-team league, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
- “David Beckham scores a court win on a Miami stadium deal he no longer wants” is easily one of the most David Beckham headlines ever.
- F.C. Cincinnati‘s owners have finally explained how its new stadium will glow orange, and the answer is: customizable LED lights. And I was so hoping for it to be bioluminescent beetles.
- The new Texas Rangers stadium being built next door to the old one that is only 24 years old because the old one didn’t have air conditioning will now cost $1.2 billion, up from $1 billion. Yes, historians from the distant future, every one of those words is true. (Ha ha, like we’re going to have a distant future!)
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since a week ago — but then, looking at all the stadium news packed up like cordwood, it’s actually not:
- Five members of the D.C. city council told DCist that they’re opposed to building a new NFL stadium, two are in favor, and six would not comment. If history is any guide, that’s plenty enough votes available to be bought off — er, I mean of course convinced of the economic responsibility of the plan!
- The New York Islanders are getting about $400,000 in state construction sales tax breaks for renovating the just-renovated Nassau Coliseum in anticipation of moving there temporarily while a new arena at Belmont Park is completed. Which isn’t a whole lot of money, but still, why, Gov. Cuomo, why?
- David Beckham’s Miami MLS ownership group had a big announcement this week to reveal that the team will be called Club Internacional de Futbol Miami (Inter Miami for short), and the Charlotte Observer ran this under the headline “David Beckham’s team named Inter Miami, still lacks stadium.” That’s cold, Charlotte Observer. Fair, but cold.
- The Arizona Cardinals signed a new naming-rights deal for their stadium, but they’re not telling anyone how much they’re getting paid for it.
- The St. Louis Rams are gone, but a whole lot of lawsuits still remain.
- The New Orleans Baby Cakes, proud owner of the most disturbing logo in all of sports, are moving to Wichita next year (New Orleans may get a lower-level minor-league team instead), and the mayor of Wichita is celebrating by tearing down his city’s 85-year-old stadium and building a new one, which will cost between $60 million and $73 million using STAR bonds and tax-increment financing money. “Taxpayers aren’t paying an additional tax of any kind to help build all this,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell, and oh, have we heard this before.
- And speaking of TIFs, the operators of the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena want a $100 million one to encourage an “entertainment district” near the arena, because that’s worked so well down the road in Louisville.
Friday roundup: Trump tariff construction cost hikes, Beckham lawsuit tossed, Elon Musk inserts himself into headlines yet again
Lots of news to report this week, and that’s even without items that I can’t read because of Tronc Troncing:
- Oak View Group’s costs on Seattle’s arena renovation are up about $100 million or 16%, and OVG CEO Tim Leiweke says Donald Trump’s tariffs on construction materials are partly to blame. Leiweke didn’t put a price tag on it, but it’s something to keep an eye on for future stadium and arena projects, at least through 2020.
- Two members of the Nashville Metro Council are trying to get that city’s proposed MLS stadium subsidy put to a public vote in November, which, good luck with closing that particular barn door.
- Tottenham Hotspur‘s new stadium still isn’t ready, and their temporary home at Wembley is hosting an NFL game the same day as Tottenham’s scheduled home match against Manchester City, and it’s all a giant mess.
- It’s hot at San Francisco 49ers games, and nobody knows what to do about it. This is going around, apparently.
- Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reports that “sources familiar with the [Arizona Coyotes’] situation” say the team lost a staggering $50 million last year, which seems to be partly debt that owner Andrew Barroway took out to buy the team? I dunno, you read the article and try to make sense of it, beyond “the Coyotes are a wreck,” which presumably you already knew.
- The lawsuit to block David Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium on the grounds that it was an illegal no-bid contract has been dismissed by a judge. I’m pretty sure this means the project is due to next be held up by a plague of locusts, or maybe a rain of toads.
- Here’s a USA Today article on how Elon Musk is going to make it easier for Los Angeles Dodgers fans to get to the game by building a tunnel to carry giant electric roller skates under Dodger Stadium, and here’s a Deadspin response pointing out that since Musk hasn’t yet built any actual transit under L.A. despite digging lots of tunnels, and “has been on a seemingly life-long mission to brand himself as a real-life Tony Stark, but he’s really just a guy who made an electric car that rich people like to drive,” maybe it’s best not to get too excited about this one just yet. Back to the gondolas!
No time for quips today, just the news:
- A study by Arizona State University found that spring-training baseball was worth $373 million to the Arizona economy in 2018. I can’t find the actual report itself, but it looks like they came up with this number by interviewing a sample of out-of-town visitors at spring training games about how much they were spending on their trips — which would be a perfectly good methodology if not for the fact that lots of people travel to Arizona and then think “I’ll go see a baseball game while I’m there,” instead of traveling there just for baseball and thinking, “Sure, I’ll check out that big canyon, too.” Which is why when spring-training games have been canceled for labor conflicts, the observed impact on local economies has been pretty much zero. I wonder if the people who wrote this Arizona State report are actual economists, at least.
- Nashville is getting an MLS franchise because it promised to build a soccer stadium, but it still might change its mind and not build a soccer stadium, and this is going to be great fun to watch if it does. (Not if you’re a Nashville MLS fan, I guess. But [insert requisite jibe about anything being more fun to watch than MLS soccer].)
- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that he hopes MLB expands by two more teams during his lifetime (or during his tenure as commissioner — he wasn’t exactly clear), specifically mentioning “Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montreal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada. We think there’s places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.” That got people in those cities all excited, which is presumably the point in saying such things — of course, none of those cities have MLB-ready stadiums (unless you count Olympic Stadium in Montreal), so prepare for a stadium arms race sometime before Manfred dies.
- Megatron’s Butthole is now fully operational.
- The estimated cost of renovating Key Arena has risen from $600 million to $700 million, but the city won’t have to pay any of that because their deal with the developers says those guys have to pay any cost overruns. Kids, when signing your next arena deal, do that.
- A Florida man was arrested for setting fire to golf carts at the golf course where David Beckham wants to build his soccer stadium, but police say it was just arson and has nothing to do with the stadium proposal. Except insomuch as David Beckham is cursed, okay? If construction on this place ever begins, I fully expect it to be interrupted by all its milk cows going dry.
Well, lookie there, a David Beckham stadium project has actually taken a step forward:
On Wednesday, Miami commissioners voted to hold a November referendum to ask voters if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham’s ownership group to build a $1 billion commercial and soccer stadium complex on the city’s only municipal golf course, Melreese Country Club. Voters will decide if the city should make an exception to its competitive bidding law to allow the administration to negotiate the no-bid deal with the Beckham group, a for-profit private entity, to develop 131 acres of public land.
In other words, Miami city commissioner Ken Russell switched his vote to “yes,” after Beckham’s partner Jorge Mas agreed to phase in a minimum $15 an hour wage requirement for commercial tenants at the stadium complex. So score one for being the squeaky wheel.
The stadium plan will now be up to voters, which, you know, it’s tough to complain about — if Miami residents think giving up a golf course for a reasonable price is a fair swap for getting a soccer stadium, then more power to them. (One still has to hope that Mas and Beckham won’t sway them with campaign ads making phony economic claims as the Heat did 22 years ago, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross this fall.) Technically, the commission still has to negotiate an actual deal if the vote passes, but since Beckham and Mas already got three votes to hold the vote, it’s unlikely those votes will flip back against them if a referendum passes.
So congrats to Beckham for finally, after so many long years, taking an actual step forward toward the MLS expansion franchise he was promised in exchange for signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy, and — sorry, what’s that?
A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Miami claiming that it broke its charter when it entered into a no-bid deal to put a Major League Soccer stadium on city-owned property.
Well, it was an unreservedly good day for Becks for an hour or so, anyway.
David Beckham and Jorge Mas’s Miami MLS ownership group issued a revised set of proposed stadium terms last night in hopes of winning over balky city commissioners, in particular offering to pay any cleanup costs for the toxic waste that sits under the golf course he wants to use as a site. He’s tweaked his offer in other ways, too, though, as the Miami Herald reports:
- The rent the team pays to the city would now be the greater of either what was determined by two independent appraisers or 5 percent of gross rent revenue collected from tenants at the site.
- The team owners would provide an additional $5 million toward funding the city’s Baywalk and Riverwalk.
- Team employees would be guaranteed a minimum wage of $15 an hour if they didn’t get health insurance, or $13.19 an hour if they did.
- The city would get 1% of any sale price for the team or other team interests on the site.
- Any lost parkland would be replaced by the team owners.
- First Tee Miami, a golf youth empowerment program, which is apparently actually a thing, would be guaranteed access to a new driving range at the former golf course site.
The Beckham/Mas plan already looked pretty reasonable for the Miami public, and this sweetens the pot slightly more. And it appears to resolve questions 1 and 3 of the five questions the Miami New Times asked about the deal on Sunday; the biggest remaining one is “How much money is this thing going to make, really?“, but if the owners really are covering all the costs and kicking in for some extra parks and such on top of that, it shouldn’t really matter too much whether the tax benefits to the public aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
According to the Herald, swing vote Ken Russell was still undecided when he left a meeting with Mas after midnight last night, and still holding out to make sure the living-wage provision applied to all employees on the stadium site. Which is his right: This is the only chance the city commissionhas to leverage the no-bid land sale to get concessions from Beckham and Mas, so by all means, haggle over the fine print. And while you can quibble over the details — “Is a golf course or a soccer stadium or something else the best use of land?” is an inherently subjective question depending on what you mean by “best” — we can at least applaud the city of Miami for recognizing that they have Beckham over a barrel, and insisting that he provide something to local residents in exchange for their approval. If every set of local officials would do even just that, we’d have a lot saner world in terms of city development policy — hey, maybe we have something to thank Jeffrey Loria for after all!