Friday roundup: Grading Mariners subsidies on a curve, Cobb County could close parks to pay off Braves debt, Beckham punts on another stadium deadline

Congratulations to the team that had never won the hockey thing winning it over the other team that had never won the hockey thing because it was a new team! And meanwhile:

Friday roundup: Panthers’ record sale price goosed by public money, Beckham stadium delayed yet again, Rams stadium really will cost $4B-plus

Google looks to have broken all of its RSS feeds, so if I missed anything important this week, drop me an email and I’ll play catchup next week:

Beckham’s Miami MLS team has yet another stadium site frontrunner

If it seems like David Beckham’s would-be MLS franchise — which, let’s not forget, only exists because he was promised one at a cut-rate price in exchange for gifting the league with his then-aging-but-still-good-for-MLS talents — has been wandering the Miami wilderness in search of a stadium site forever, it’s really only been less than five years, which is still pretty long. But after announcing last month that it would be looking at “five or so sites,” Beckham’s ownership group may be settling on a new frontrunner, the site of a Pepsi distribution center in suburban Doral west of Miami — at least, according to the mayor of Doral:

“In this transaction, It seems like it would be a cleaner process,” said Doral Vice Mayor Ana Maria Rodriguez , who supports a stadium in the growing suburban city. “And no public money would be expended on it.”

Unlike the last frontrunner, a publicly owned (but privately operated) golf course in Melreese, the Doral site wouldn’t have issues with getting in the way of flights landing at the airport, which could allow for taller hotels and such that Beckham and his partners the Mas brothers want to build adjacent to the stadium.

If you’re scoring at home, this would be something like the fifth stadium site to be anointed as the likely stadium site (Miami waterfront, adjacent to Marlins stadium, Overtown, Melreese … are we counting the Marlins site twice since it keeps cropping up?). Doral certainly sounds like it would involve less red tape and has a willing mayor, but until there are more specifics, it’s hard to take any of this too seriously. Wake me when you can actually buy Miami MLS souvenir jerseys.

Beckham group now has no idea at all where exactly it wants to build a Miami soccer stadium

Having already hinted at looking at other sites in Miami for a new soccer stadium than the long-considered Overtown site, David Beckham’s new ownership partner Jorge Mas completely blew up the not-yet-actually-existing team’s stadium plans yesterday by declaring that he’s looking at “five or so” sites, including some not actually in Miami:

“We’re actively looking at five or so sites,” said Jorge Mas, the Miami executive who became the public face of Beckham’s stadium hunt after he and brother José joined the partnership late last year. “There are a handful of sites that are interesting.”…

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Mas said Overtown remains a possibility. But he gave his strongest indication yet that the partnership, which includes Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, is starting fresh with a new list of stadium sites.

Mas described a winnowing process under way among the partners that will settle on two finalists within the next two months.

The Miami Herald proceeds to list the frontrunners as: land on the Hialeah Park and Casino site; land near Jackson Memorial Hospital; the Melreese golf course site that has been previously discussed; Overtown; and a Pepsi distribution center in Doral.

Is this a sign that the Beckham-Mas group is casting its net as wide as possible in desperation for land the owners can get ahold of? That they’re looking to play different municipalities against each other in some kind of bidding war? (Mas did tout the stadium as “a job creator.”) That the new guy in the room, notwithstanding the years that have already been spent looking at stadium sites, figured, hey, I bet I can find a better stadium site than this one if I put my mind to it? Your guess is as good as mine, and it looks like we’re going to have plenty of time to speculate while waiting to see if Miami can get an MLS team before it needs to switch to water polo.

Beckham offered public golf course land for MLS stadium, vote could take place in August

We officially have yet another proposed David Beckham stadium site on the table:

Miami’s top administrator this week met with David Beckham partner Jorge Mas about building a Major League Soccer stadium on the city-owned Melreese golf course, floating a 180-acre alternative near Miami International Airport as Mas is raising doubts about long-standing plans to build the stadium on nine acres in Overtown…

“I suggested that perhaps Melreese could be an interesting place to consider, given what it provides,” [Miami City Manager Emilio] González said. “They expressed an interest. We both agreed to continue a dialogue.”

City-owned golf course, eh? The Miami Herald article goes on to note that the golf course, which is run by a private operator, isn’t a revenue generator for the city — it breaks even, though of course that doesn’t account for the value of Miami residents getting to play golf. (We will for the moment suspend disbelief about playing golf having a value.) More important, though, is that if Miami is going to say “golf course, schmolf course” and lease out the land to a private developer, it really should come up with a price that matches what someone would pay to build something more lucrative on it, not a golf course — otherwise you risk getting into a mess like the one with the New York Islanders arena that could be getting a nine-figure discount courtesy of New York state taxpayers.

Herald sources said a public referendum on the plan could take place this August or November, which should be an interesting test of whether Miami voters have any stomach at all for stadium deals after the Marlins burned them so badly. Most important, though, is that this means we could see a Beckham MLS stadium decision postponed for the better part of this year, which keeps hope alive that it will go down in history as the most prominent vaporfranchise since the Baltimore Claws.

Beckham co-owner says Overtown site is too small, throws stadium plans into disarray for umpteenth time

Bwahahaha, oh man, okay, hang on, let me catch my breath and recap here, then you’ll see what’s so funny about today’s news from the Miami Herald.

Back when David Beckham announced his Miami MLS stadium plans for Overtown back in the late Pleistocene (okay, December 2015), it was immediately clear that the site he’d picked was pretty damn small for a big-league soccer stadium: only 9 acres, whereas the New York Red Bulls‘ arena in Harrison, N.J., for example, takes up 12 acres. (And Red Bull Arena is nobody’s idea of a big-scale mallpark, though it’s certainly functional enough.) As I wrote at the time:

I’m a fan of stadiums squeezed into tight spaces, but still, this looks an awfully difficult fit, even without getting into the parking issues. Which is Beckham’s problem if he goes ahead with it, but still.

Then came the stadium renderings, which hilariously involved the stadium resting atop parked cars:

But okay, who are we to say that a good stadium can’t be squoze in on a small site? If the owners of the team are up for it, and they’re the ones paying, more power to them!

Which brings us to today’s news item from the Miami Herald:

New David Beckham partner Jorge Mas boasts of a bold, high-tech vision for a Miami soccer stadium. And that could get complicated. Mas also says the nine-acre site in Overtown that the Beckham group secured for the venue two years ago just isn’t large enough to match his ambitions.

“I want to make it the most technologically advanced, futuristic stadium in the country,” Mas said in an interview this week. “Obviously, you need more than nine acres for that. We’ve been exploring the surrounding area in terms of: What can we do to put this all together?”

I mean, what the actual what? Sure, Mas wasn’t on board in 2015 when this plan was concocted. But what kind of team ownership group puts forward a proposal for a new stadium, spends more than two years lobbying for it, then belatedly says, “Oh, by the way, this is too small, we need more room?”

The obvious conclusion is that Mas is either angling for city help in obtaining adjacent land to make an Overtown stadium bigger — to do so he’d either have to close more streets or offload some kitchen facilities and such to adjacent buildings, as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have done — or angling for an entirely new site elsewhere in Miami. (Mas says he needs more space for “tech investment,” which who the hell knows what that means. Does Ethernet cable take up that much room?) If the team does choose a new site, that would make it three separate locations (waterfront, next to Marlins stadium, Overtown) that Beckham’s group has selected with great fanfare and then given up on, so I’m now at the point where I’m only going to believe in a stadium site once I see actual steel in the ground.

If nothing else, Mas’s statements clearly mean that the stadium issue is far from settled — he floated the idea of adding “workforce housing” as a way to obtain land, which again, who the hell knows — and anytime new plans are in the offing, there’s the worry about new demands for public money as well. If you own a professional sports franchise but it never has an opening date, does it make a sound?

Friday roundup: Beckham stadium opposition, Arizona bill to block “disparaging” team names, and oh, so many soccer stadiums

So. Much. News:

  • F.C. Cincinnati CEO Jeff Berding says the team still hasn’t decided among stadium sites in the Oakley and West End neighborhoods and one in Newport, Kentucky, while it awaits traffic studies and whatnot, though the team owners did purchase an option to buy land in the West End to build housing for some reason? Still nobody’s talking about the $25 million funding gap that Berding insists the public will have to fill, but I’m sure they’ll get back to that as soon as they decide which neighborhood hates the idea of being their new home the least.
  • Here’s really sped-up footage of the final beam being put in place for D.C. United‘s new stadium.
  • Indy Eleven is officially moving this season from Carroll Stadium to the Colts‘ NFL stadium, but hasn’t figured out yet whether or how to lay down grass over the artificial turf. Might want to get on that, guys.
  • San Diego is looking at doing a massive redevelopment of the land around its arena, and as part of this isn’t extending AEG’s lease on running the place beyond 2020. This is either the first step toward a reasonable assessment of whether the city could be getting more value (both monetary and in terms of use) for a large plot of city-owned land, or the first step toward building a new arena in some boondoggle that would enable a developer to reap the profits from public subsidies — Voice of San Diego doesn’t speculate, and neither will I.
  • Some Overtown residents are still really, really, really unhappy with David Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium plans for their neighborhood, and have been getting in the papers letting that be known.
  • “Can stadiums save downtowns—and be good deals for cities?” asks Curbed, the official media site of tearing things down and building other things to turn a profit. You can guess what I say, but you’ll have to wade through a whole lot of self-congratulation and correlation-as-causation from the people who built the Sacramento Kings arena to get there.
  • Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg is still seeking as much as $650 million in stadium subsidies, with local elected officials holding secret meetings with lobbyists to make a project happen. WTSP’s Noah Pransky reports that “commissioners told 10Investigates there remains little appetite to make up the nine-figure funding gap the Rays have suggested may be needed to get a stadium built,” though, so we’ll see where all this ends up.
  • Arizona state rep Eric Descheenie, who is Navajo, has introduced a bill that would prohibit publicly funded stadiums in the state from displaying any team names or logos that local Native American tribes consider “disparaging,” which could make it interesting when the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Black Hawks, or Washington RedHawks come to town.
  • The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible racketeering and other charges around bidding on major sports events, including American consulting firms that may have helped Russia get the Sochi Olympics and this year’s soccer World Cup. If they can’t find enough evidence to prosecute, they’re not watching enough TV.
  • I didn’t even know there was a surviving Negro League baseball stadium in Hamtramck, Michigan, let alone that there was a cricket pitch on it. Who’s up for a road trip?
  • The town of Madison — no, not the one you’re thinking of, the one in Alabama — is looking to build a $46 million baseball stadium with public money because “economic development.” They’re hoping to get the Mobile BayBears to move there, at which point the Huntsville region will undoubtedly become the same kind of global economic engine that is now Mobile.
  • An East Bay developer wants land in Concord (way across the other side of the Oakland Hills, though developing like crazy because everything is in the Bay Area right now) that’s owned by the BART transit system, and says they’ll build a USL soccer stadium if they can get it. Have you noticed that like half of these items are about soccer these days? Of course, half of all sports teams in the U.S. will be pro soccer teams soon the way league expansion is going, so that’s about right.
  • Here’s a map of failed New York City Olympic projects and how they helped Mayor Michael Bloomberg ruin neighborhoods. Sorry, did I say “ruin”? I meant “improve,” of course. This is from Curbed, after all.

Beckham officially awarded Miami MLS team to begin play somewhere, someday

David Beckham was finally awarded his MLS expansion franchise yesterday, after years of waiting out ever-changing stadium plans so he could cash in his $25 million option to buy a team that he was awarded during his playing days. (Mere mortals have to cough up $150 million apiece for an MLS team these days.) So let’s hear it, what are the details?

There was no word Monday on the team’s official name nor the colors it will play in. Similarly, there was no announcement about when the Miami franchise will officially join the league.

Okay, then! There was also no official announcement of where the new unnamed team will play, though Overtown remains Beckham’s preferred stadium site, as reported yesterday.

In short, yesterday’s big announcement comes down to an acknowledgment by MLS that yes, we gave Beckham the right to buy his own team at a steeply discounted price in exchange for taking his then-fading talents to the L.A. Galaxy, and he’s going to use it because he’s no dummy, and we can’t stop him. So there will be an MLS team in Miami, somewhere, someday!

And as for that Overtown stadium site, Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez made clear yesterday that there are no plans to add additional parking facilities there, and that fans should either walk a few blocks from the train or bus or take an Uber or Lyft. That’s not necessarily a terrible idea — MLS attendance numbers are wobbly enough that for most games existing parking may well end up being enough — but we’ll just have to see it in action to know how it’ll work. Any decade now, really.

Beckham reportedly set on Overtown site, to officially announce Miami expansion team, yes I know you’ve heard this before

Never mind, David Beckham is still dead-set on building a new Miami MLS stadium in Overtown, so you can forget those reports that maybe he’ll reconsider building next to the Marlins‘ stadium or on a floating island in the Atlantic or something:

In an interview with Channel 10’s Glenna Milberg aired Sunday, the soccer legend acknowledged the rough road to announcing what his partnership is billing as the definitive end to his stadium quest: MLS approval of Beckham’s Miami franchise, and plans for a 25,000-seat stadium in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.

“It’s been painful at times,” he said in the Channel 10 interview. “I’m a persistent person. I don’t like to lose.”

Yes, it must be painful to be a fabulously rich and famous guy who points to a spot on the map and says “I’ll take that one” and then is told, no, you can’t have that one. And then picks another site, but it turns out there’s people living there who don’t want to move. And then settles on a third site but … I actually don’t really get what’s holding up the third site other than that there isn’t much parking, but whatever, feel this guy’s pain, will you?

Beckham has a news conference set for noon today at which he’ll reportedly finally be announcing that he got his expansion franchise approved to start play in 2020, at least if you believe the promos being run during yesterday’s Barcelona-Alavès broadcast, though it’s also not entirely clear if that “approved” is 100% locked down. And the team would still need a place to play temporarily until a new stadium is complete. Maybe this Miami MLS saga is finally coming to a close, but I won’t entirely believe it until I see the team suit up — or at least until it gets a name, so I can finally replace “Miami MLS expansion team” as my category tag for this whole mess.



Friday stadium news: Warriors subway delays, MLS expansion scuttlebutt, ungrateful Hamilton

Oh hey, yeah, I forgot to mention that it’s the most important holiday of the year this week (and part of next), so posting may be a bit sporadic until Wednesday or so. But I could never ignore the weekly news roundup, so let’s get to it:

  • San Francisco’s new Central Subway likely won’t open until 2021, more than a year later than planned, which will mean a couple of seasons of Golden State Warriors fans walking or taking shuttle buses. Honestly, it’s not all that far, but I’m sure there will still be complaining.
  • David Beckham got some new minority partners for his MLS team that still doesn’t quite exist yet. Supposedly the league will issue an “update” on the Miami stadium situation soon, which maybe sounds ominous only to me because I think that way?
  • The city of Phoenix has now spent $200,000 on a Suns arena consultant, and still the city council doesn’t have any information yet even on what kinds of upgrades the arena might need, because the mayor says he has to keep negotiations with the team secret. From the city council. No, it sounds crazy to me, too.
  • The owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs junior hockey team offered to build a new arena and only ask taxpayers to foot half the bill, and he’s mad that the city hasn’t thanked him yet.
  • Cincinnati’s highway bridges are falling down, but the city is spending money on a new MLS stadium (maybe?) before addressing that, because hotel taxes and other money going to the stadium isn’t allowed to be used on highway infrastructure. You know, maybe cities and counties should start allowing things like hotel taxes to be used to improve other things that benefit tourists, like roads that don’t have overpasses fall on them when you drive under? Just a thought.
  • The Republican tax bill isn’t finalized yet, and we don’t know if the ban on tax-exempt stadium funding will survive, but the Detroit News speculates that if it does, it might help Detroit’s MLS expansion chances because it’s the only city that wouldn’t be building a new stadium. MLS already supposedly voted on the expansion cities yesterday, though, so you think the league owners called Congress for a sneak peek at the final bill? Does MLS have that kind of pull with Congress?