Friday roundup: Jacksonville mayor says “whatever Jaguars want” on stadium renovations, that’s it, I’m done, I can’t even finish this headline

Running late on the roundup this week — I just published two new articles on the wastefulness of film tax credits and New York’s probably fruitless attempts to fight off sea level rise, plus I have another major writing deadline today — so let’s get to it:

This week in vaportecture: Portland baseball, Miami soccer

The renderings for stadiums that may or may not ever be built are coming so fast and furious now that this week they need their own weekly roundup post: Both Inter Miami and Portland’s as-yet-unnamed (and as-yet-nonexistent) MLB team released fresh stadium images the last couple of days, and I am happy to report that they are very much in line with the laws of vaportecture.

Portland first:

This is actually a pretty sedate group of images — not even any daytime fireworks! — and improves on the non-Euclidean geometry of the previous batch. Sure, the shadows in the first image are a bit weird — the sun would appear to be coming directly out of the east, which means it’s sunrise, so you’d think the shadows would be longer, but maybe it’s the summer solstice or something — and the aerial tramway appears to have vanished from the overhead rendering — unless those little specks out past center field are gondolas, suspended in the air by nothing — and for some reason the parking lot has more trees in it than cars. And then there’s this image, which wasn’t included in John Canzano’s above tweet but was in his Oregonian article:

What exactly is that woman doing with her freakishly large hand? Brushing her hair forward to cover where her head has been poorly Photoshopped onto her body? Talking on one of those neck-phones that will be all the rage by the time Portland gets an MLB team? And why are all the fans looking through the glass window ignoring the spectacular play being made by the right fielder, who is contorting his body in impossible ways to make a catch, though probably no more impossible than the ways it will be contorted after he crashes at full speed into the foul pole. At least I’m glad to see that the Portland P’s will offer throwback uniforms hearkening back to the days of no jersey numbers, which is probably why souvenir shirts will just feature an enormous Old English “P” on the back.

On to Miami, where we got our first look at the stadium David Beckham and Jorge Mas’s ownership group may or may not be building at Melreese Park in Miami (not to be confused with the temporary stadium they may or may not be building in Fort Lauderdale). And hey, this one’s a video, which for some reason starts off with an egret? And a drum line?

https://twitter.com/InterMiamiCF/status/1115615132057575424

If I’m interpreting this right, the egret is somehow supposed to relate to the design of the stadium roof, which is vaguely bird-wing shaped, and also pink, unlike the egret, though maybe it’s meant to evoke an egret that pigged out on too many brine shrimp. But at least it shines with an unearthly glow!

And features lots of space for fans (and maybe a wookiee) to mill around bars or conference tables or something, with no pesky railings to keep from the excitement of possibly falling to their deaths:

And as a special bonus, there’s a weirdly cartoonish overhead view that features one goalkeeper fleeing his position because he’s belatedly realized there are one too many players on the pitch (and yes, I’m counting the referee):

I’m honestly not sure what purpose either of these sets of new images is supposed to accomplish, except maybe to get coverage showing that this thing must really be happening, look, here are pictures of what it would look like, no one in human history has ever drawn anything that won’t actually exist. In which case, mission accomplished, I guess. Far be it from me to denigrate the #freedomtodream.

Beckham’s Inter Miami okayed to tear down Fort Lauderdale stadium, replace it with whatever they can slap together by next spring

The Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted Tuesday night to give permission to David Beckham’s Inter Miami ownership group to tear down Lockhart Stadium and build a new facility that would serve as the team’s temporary home and long-term training ground. Though the “building a new facility” part is apparently just a suggestion:

Mayor Dean Trantalis suggested to the commission that the agreement should come with financial assurances that the Beckham group will not simply demolish the existing stadium and then walk away from the project without building something in its place. Other commissioners argued that given the extremely tight timeline — Beckham’s group wants to begin play there in less than a year — the project must be permitted to start as soon as possible.

The vote was unanimous, 5-0. Beckham’s group will have 180 days to complete the demolition.

Now, it’s pretty unlikely that the Beckham group will demolish the old stadium and build nothing in its place, precisely because of that timeline mentioned above — Inter Miami has to play somewhere next year, and Fort Lauderdale is pretty much their only option at the moment. Just what they’ll build is less clear: If it takes (up to) 180 days to demolish the existing stadium, that leaves less than six months to build a new one, which gives “aggressive timetable” a new meaning. Here, as a reminder, is what Beckham’s group says they’ll be building:

And here is what I think they’ll more likely have time for by next spring:

We’ll all find out together soon enough. Or, this being the franchise that seems destined to exist only in Beckham’s hopes and dreams, not.

David Beckham says he’s really building two Florida soccer stadiums, it’s not just leverage to play cities against each other

The Fort Lauderdale city commission gave approval yesterday to David Beckham’s Inter Miami to build a new 18,000-seat soccer stadium at the site of 60-year-old Lockhart Stadium — or at least, approval to enter into exclusive negotiations to do so. That makes this a good time for me to expand on my brief mention on Friday of how and why Beckham is going ahead with this seemingly crazy scheme to build two stadiums in adjacent cities for one team.

As you may recall, back in November Miami voters approved giving Inter Miami the rights to build a new stadium at Melreese golf course, the third or fourth (I’ve lost track by now) proposed stadium site for the MLS expansion team. Or rather, approved giving Inter’s owners the right to negotiate a stadium with the Miami city commission; nothing substantive has happened with those negotiations since then, and last week Miami commissioners voted to set a September deadline for Beckham’s group to figure things out, or else it will reopen the site to other bidders.

At the same time, Inter is set to begin play next year, and when both the Marlins and Dolphins owners turned down a chance to play host to Inter Miami games in 2020 because of scheduling concerns, it left the team with a home field of ¯_(ツ)_/¯. So Beckham and co-owner Jorge Mas turned to Lockhart Stadium, where the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL previously played, as the site of a new 18,000-seat stadium that they said they would build with $60 million in private money, use for two seasons as Inter Miami’s home, then turn into a training ground and youth team stadium, with construction to begin in August and be completed by next March. This on top of spending $1 billion for a permanent soccer stadium plus a whole lot of other stuff like hotels and office space, and paying rent on the site to boot, back in Miami.

If that sounds a little crazy to you, you’re not alone. Sure, they’re doing amazing things with pop-up stadiums these days, but seven months is still an extremely tight construction timeline, and then a no-frills stadium is likely to age poorly, even as just the home of an under-21 team. And building two stadiums for one team with private money, though certainly welcome in an age when most owners won’t even build one stadium with private money, seems like an extremely odd business plan, even if you have a pile of cash left over from getting your franchise for a discount $25 million expansion fee instead of $150 million in exchange for agreeing to play your declining years in the U.S.

The obvious suspicion here, especially given Inter’s foot-dragging on stadium negotiations in Miami, is that this is part interim solution and part leverage play — if the talks over Melreese go poorly, Beckham and Mas have a backup site ready to go. And while they’re saying that’s not the case, Mas issued a pretty non-denial denial about it:

“We don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I’m planning on playing at Miami Freedom Park in 2022 but if for some reason that option isn’t available, we’ll adjust accordingly.”

My personal theory is that Beckham and Mas are less interested in actual stadiums than in collecting enough stadium renderings to paper their living room walls with. They’re well on their way!

Friday roundup: Cobb County still losing money on Braves, Beckham now wants two new stadiums, A’s reveal latest crazy rendering

It’s yet another morning to wake up and read the news and want to immediately go back to bed, or maybe get out of bed and protest something or just hug somebody. There’s a full week of additional stadium and arena news to recap, though, and that still matters, even if maybe not quite as much as man’s inhumanity to other humans, so:

  • Cobb County is still losing money on the new Atlanta Braves stadium, but it was at least down to $5.8 million last year from $8 million the year before. That’s mostly thanks to increased property tax payments from the development around the stadium, though, and as I’ve covered before, property taxes aren’t free money, they’re revenues that are supposed to pay for all the social costs of new development, so please everybody stop pretending that’s how fiscal math works.
  • David Beckham’s Inter Miami (do I have to keep identifying them that way? you bet I do!) now wants to play its first two MLS seasons, 2020 and 2021, at a new stadium in Fort Lauderdale while waiting for its Miami stadium to be ready. I admit to being somewhat confused as to how an 18,000-seat stadium can be built in Fort Lauderdale in less than a year (even if it’s just a temporary facility that will eventually be converted to host the franchise’s youth team) when it’ll take two years at least to build one in Miami, but mostly I’m just excited for Beckham to have two different stadium ideas that can run into inevitable obstacles because he’s Beckham.
  • The Oakland A’s dropped another new rendering of their proposed Howard Terminal stadium as part of their latest site plan, and mostly it’s notable for apparently being the only building left with its own electrical power after the apocalypse wipes out the rest of humanity, which should help ticket sales. Vaportecture fans will also be pleased to see that the gratuitous shipping cranes for unloading containers to nowhere have been moved to a different corner of the site, possibly for logistical reasons but more likely because the renderers thought they framed the image better there.
  • Tottenham Hotspur stadium update: Finally looks on target to open in early April, except for the small problem that players trying to take corner kicks will tumble backwards down a slope if they stand more than one foot from the ball.
  • Milwaukee-area residents will finally get to stop paying a sales-tax surcharge to pay off the Brewers‘ Miller Park next year, after 24 years of the 0.1% tax being in place. (The public will keep on paying for repairs to the stadium, but it’s already built up a reserve fund from sales tax payments for that purpose.) That’s certainly good news for Wisconsin residents who want to see their spending dollars go 0.1% farther, though even more so it will make it harder for anyone to try to use that tax stream to fund a replacement stadium for Miller Park, which the Brewers haven’t talked about but you know it’s just a matter of time.
  • The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority is set to vote today on a new short-term lease for the Raiders, who would pay $7.4 million in rent for 2019 and $10.4 millon in rent for 2020 if necessary, plus $525,000 a year in rent for the team’s practice facility for up to three years after moving to Las Vegas. Plus, Oakland still gets to continue with its antitrust suit against the Raiders for leaving in the first place. I love happy endings!
  • Calgary city councillor Evan Woolly says instead of giving tax kickbacks to a new Flames arena, he wants to give tax breaks to all businesses across the city in an attempt to keep more of them in town. I’d definitely want to see his projected economic impact numbers before deciding if that would be worth it, but it certainly makes as much economic sense as giving money solely to a pro hockey team on the same logic.
  • “Planning experts” told the city of Saskatoon that it should kick off downtown revitalization efforts by building a new arena, because that’s the “biggest piece,” and, and, sorry, I’m looking for any actual reasons these experts gave, but not finding any. Though given that one is described as a “real estate sales specialist,” maybe their reasoning is not so mysterious after all.
  • The New York Islanders management emailed season ticket holders to ask them to sign a change.org “Support New York Islanders New Home at Belmont” petition, which leads me to think that maybe they’re taking this whole local elected official opposition thing more seriously than they’re pretending when they keep saying don’t worry, they’re totally going to have the place open by 2021.
  • The Carolina Panthers are talking about moving to South Carolina, but only their offices and practice field, not their actual home stadium. Not that that’s stopping them from trying to get out of paying their stadium property tax bill.
  • The government is Sydney is rushing to demolish a 31-year-old Australian football rugby (sorry, read too quickly and can’t tell all the Australian ball sports apart really anyway) stadium nine days before a new government might come in that would have preserved the building, and while I don’t fully understand the whole history here, you can read about it here while we wait for FoS’s Aussie sports correspondent David Dyte to chime in.
  • Emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times reveal that Irving Azoff tried to talk the Los Angeles Lakers into moving out of the Staples Center and into the MSG-owned Forum, but talks didn’t go anywhere. This honestly doesn’t seem like much since it was just an emailed offer that was rebuffed, but it is interesting in that it shows how the arena management wars are playing into sports team decisions. (And also in that it reveals that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss refers to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer as “Ballz.”)

Friday roundup: Flames arena questions, Braves funny math, and more vaportecture renderings and videos of suite chairs than you can shake a stick at

I swear they keep making these Fridays closer and closer together:

  • Canadian economists have lots of questions about who’s going to pay for a new Calgary Flames arena, which is as should be because the city council won’t say yet how it will be paid for. And we apparently won’t know more for a while, because first the council needs to figure out who’ll be on the negotiating committee with the Flames, and it’s not even scheduled to meet until next month. I can’t be the only one thinking, “Excellent, lots of time for somebody to leak the details to the press before everything gets negotiated,” can I? Deadspin has a tips line, just saying!
  • The Atlanta Braves brought in $442 million in revenue last year, for a profit of $92 million, but blamed the team’s debt payments on their new stadium in Cobb County for not leaving enough left over to spend big on free agents. After public subsidies, the Braves owners are on the hook for less than $20 million a year in construction debt payments, plus $6 million a year in rent, so, um, yeah.
  • The latest Texas Rangers stadium renderings make the seats in the top decks look just as crappy as in the previous renderings, there are still clip-art fans with translucent heads, and the roof is open in all of them even though the whole point of the new stadium is to have air-conditioning, which won’t work if the roof is open. At least we finally get to see how fans will get to that deck suspended in midair in left field — via a brick-colonnaded walkway, of course — so we no longer have to worry about Rangers fans having to purchase jetpacks to get to their terrible seats.
  • And still more renderings, these of a USL stadium a would-be team owner wants to build in Fort Lauderdale on the site of Lockhart Stadium, the same site David Beckham has targeted as a training site for his Inter Miami MLS team. Are there spotlights pointing pointlessly into the sky? You bet! Is this, regardless of whether the USL stadium stands a chance of getting built, yet another reason to laugh at Beckham over how he can’t catch a break? Don’t you know it!
  • Here’s a video of what the chairs and shelving will look like at the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium. And here’s a picture of what the place settings will look like in the luxury suites at the new Golden State Warriors arena, but it’s just a still photo — come on, Ben Golliver, it’s 2019, don’t you know people want to see furniture in video form?
  • New York Islanders owner Jon Ledecky insists that the team’s proposed Belmont Park arena is still “on track for the 2021-22 season,” but what else is he gonna say?
  • Winnipeg will provide a total of $16.6 million in tax breaks and other operating subsidies this year to the Jets, Blue Bombers, Goldeyes, and Manitoba Moose, and bonus points to any non-Canadian who can name what sport each of those teams play. Economic Development Winnipeg CEO Dayna Spiring claimed that the public will make its money back — no, not through the taxes the teams won’t get breaks on, that’s a Wichita thing to say. Rather, Spiring said the public will earn its money back on exposure, via the value of Winnipeg’s name appearing on hockey broadcasts. Somebody please alert this Twitter account.
  • Tottenham Hotspur stadium opening update: still maybe early April! Also, it may be called Nike Stadium, or maybe not.
  • Wichita announced it planned to double down on its $75 million expense for a new minor-league baseball stadium for the relocated New Orleans Baby Cakes Triple-A franchise by also selling land around the stadium to the team owners for $1 an acre, with the mayor saying the city would make money on the $38.5 million in taxes the new development would pay over the next 20 years. This is still not how taxes work, but Wichita has since said it was putting off the land sale after Wichitans griped about the stealth subsidy, so I won’t belabor the point. For now.
  • And finally, NBA commissioner Adam Silver want to make watching basketball at home more like being at the game, via “technology.” Wait, isn’t one main problem pro sports is facing that fewer and fewer people want to go to games because it’s just as pleasant and cheaper to watch games at home on their giant hi-def TVs? I mean, no complaints here if Silver really wants to replicate the smell of Madison Square Garden in my living room, but it seems a bit, I dunno, against their business model? Unless maybe this will be some kind of premium feature you only get by subscribing to their streaming service that will be described as “Netflix for basketball,” yeah, that’s probably it.

Friday roundup: Suns referendum campaign fails, Panthers owner floats roof, Inter Miami and Raiders both still need temporary homes

The stadium news does not care if I am having a busy week, it just keeps happening! And I am, as always, here to catch it in a bucket and dump it out for you:

Beckham’s Inter Miami could use Marlins Park as its temporary home

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!

David Beckham actually won something, world to end on Friday

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!

Miami, San Diego to vote on MLS stadium proposals today, also fate of nation or somesuch thing

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!

Vote early and vote often!