Two out of 12 stadiums built by the Brazil for the 2014 World Cup are no longer undergoing corruption probes! If you’ve calculated that that means ten of the 12 are still under investigation, you get an A+ in math.
Hey, lookit, somebody actually called Roger Noll after he was name-checked by the Austin city council, and asked him what he thinks of Anthony Precourt’s stadium proposal for that city. His answer: “It’s not accurate to say it’s going to be completely privately financed. It’s in fact going to have a significant subsidy built into it. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.” That’s fair! Adds Temple economist Michael Leeds: “If Austin feels that having a soccer team would give the city an identity, give the people of the city something they enjoy, that’s fine. … That’s different from saying this is going to boost the city’s economy.” Also fair! Short answer from economists: If you wanna help build a stadium because you think having a stadium would be cool, go for it, but don’t do it for the economic impact because bwahaha “economic impact.”
The Colorado Rockies owners have released renderings of the ugly building they want to build on a Coors Field parking lot they’re leasing from the state for $1.25 million a year. The renderings don’t even show any fireworks or searchlights. Sad!
The proposed $180 million (or so) in public subsidies for upgrades to the Seattle Mariners‘ stadium would go to pay for such things as “new artwork, more club-level seating and a 175-seat brewpub that’s open to the outside with special access to the park for ticket holders and Diamond Club patrons,” according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat. He focuses on the brewpub, but at that price tag, I’m more worried about what artwork they’re considering.
If you’ve been wanting to read an article that argues that a 76-year-old stadium is “old, a remnant from another era,” by comparing it unfavorably to a 106-year-old stadium, Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal has you covered. Then he throws in a threat that the Pawtucket Red Sox could move to Worcester without a stadium at the end, either because he knew his main argument that McCoy Stadium is too old, not like Fenway, which is the good kind of old was kind of weird, or because he hadn’t written all the way to the bottom of the page yet.
And if you’ve been wanting an article arguing that Calgary shouldn’t foot the bill for a new Flames arena, This magazine has you covered, which is kind of cool because I wrote an article for This about how the SkyDome was a money suck for Toronto way back in 1999, though I think the only surviving online version of it is this strangely formatted one on some vestigial backwater of my own website.
MLS commissioner Don Garber took time out during his announcement that F.C. Cincinnati would be the league’s 9,813th team (all numbers approximate) to throw shade at the proposed Detroit expansion team for proposing to play in a football stadium, ew, instead of a soccer-only stadium. “They can talk about what those ideas might be, but they were really front runners when they were looking at the jail site,” sighed the commissioner, gazing off wistfully into the distance (all narrative descriptions approximate).
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:
The Atlanta Hawks are now offering a “virtual tour” of the suites at their new arena, which team CEO Steve Koonin describes thusly: “It’s going to be a social place unlike anywhere else in the NBA. All of our research told us that people don’t want to sit down in a chair eating a hot dog out of aluminum foil and watch a game. They want a great night out. … Think Vegas pool meets sporting event.” Add another data point to the growing evidence that sports teams don’t want their fans to come to watch the game anymore, probably because they know that half the time your team’s games aren’t worth watching.
Syracuse University is going to spend $118 million to, among other things, replace its stadium’s air-supported fabric roof with a non-air-supported fabric roof, as well as adding “the Wi-Fi.” Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack, according to Syracuse.com, noted that “there has been no money from the state or county promised at this point but indicated the school will continue to explore its options.” At least Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner managed to head off building a new stadium for the private university with public dollars, but still, watch your wallets, New York taxpayers.
In no particular order, or as we call it in New York, Mets style:
Elvis Presley Enterprises is looking for property tax breaks from Memphis and Shelby County to help build a $20 million, 5,000- to 6,000-seat arena at Graceland. This could violate a non-compete clause with the Grizzlies over tax breaks for their arena, and local officials aren’t too thrilled with the request anyway: “I don’t want this body to be looked at as a pawn to sweeten the pot,” city councilmember Berlin Boyd told WMC-TV, which is a reasonable sentiment if a somewhat confusing metaphor.
The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals are seeking $100 million in public hotel-tax money from Palm Beach County to upgrade their 20-year-old spring training facility, saying they need expanded clubhouses, more batting tunnels, an expanded team store, Wi-Fi, a new scoreboard, more shaded seating areas, and “agility fields” (presumably not this kind) in order to remain “competitive.” Neither team appeared to indicate why any of this is Palm Beach County’s problem.
A Phoenix real-estate developer has teamed with the libertarian Goldwater Institute to sue the city to force the release of its plans regarding renovations to the Suns arena after it denied a standard public-records request. It’s pretty standard for cities to deny such requests — I get Freedom of Information Law requests rejected for this reason all the time — but hey, more power to the lawyers if they want to see if a lawsuit works any better.
Esports arena operators say that the future of sports is people sitting in esports arenas watching people play video games, and the New York Times suggests this could save America’s malls. In my experience, kids mostly want to watch this, and can, by just looking at their phones, but far be it from me to stand in the way of saving America’s malls.
Headline in The Oregonian: “Major League Baseball to Portland leaders: ‘We have a window and we can’t let this go.'” Actual quote in the accompanying article: “That’s why you have Mike and Jason and I and our team so excited, moving so quickly but methodically. We have a window that we can’t let this go to Vegas or San Antonio or Mexico City or somewhere else.” By Craig Cheek, who has no role in MLB, but is just part of a group of owners who want to bring a major league baseball franchise to Portland. Maybe somebody should work on bringing a major league professional newspaper to Portland.
And finally, Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog is shutting down after nine years, which is a shame not only because it’s a great read, but because we’re just now getting to the most important part of the Rays stadium battle, where it’s decided who lives and who dies where a stadium may be built and who’ll pay for it. Pransky will still be reporting on the Rays stadium battles for his day job at WTSP-TV, which means we should see more stuff like this. But still, it’s a sad day — thanks for nine years and 1,500 posts of great work, Noah!
As late as Wednesday, I thought this was turning out to be a slow news week. Then the news made up for it in a hurry:
The New York Islanders owners held a question-and-answer session for residents near their planned new arena on Tuesday, and when asked about how they plan to increase Long Island Railroad service to avoid tons of auto traffic, a state development official said, “We are in very active discussions with the LIRR — meeting with them once a week — and those talks are ramping up.” Hopefully they’re involving Dr. Strange in those discussions, because they badly need to find some new topological dimensions.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he plans to talk to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk about whether he actually plans to pursue the LeBreton Flats arena development he won rights to last year, after Melnyk called it “a huge project with tremendous risk” and said, “If it doesn’t look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I’m not suggesting that right now” and “Something’s got to break somewhere and I mean a positive break.” Melnyk has made threats like this before, but you’d think now that he has an agreed sale price for the land he’d be happy; it sure sounds like he’s angling for some additional public subsidies now that he has his mitts on the land, which you can’t really blame him for, since Watson opened the door to that already. Come on, mayor, haven’t you learned yet not to get the can opener out when the cat is around?
Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the group started by the Rays to push for business support for a new stadium, is signing up plenty of members, but DRaysBay notes that “the real test of commitment will come when businesses are asked to make clearer financial commitments to a stadium plan.” Yeah, no duh. (The subhead here, “Business leaders line up behind stadium plan, but financing questions linger,” is also a masterpiece of understatement.)
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says that the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre “needs an update to make it as economically viable as possible,” noting that other stadiums “have millennial areas, things like that that have been built and become popular more recently.” So, like, an Instagram parlor?
Here’s a story about how 25 years ago the NHL handed Norman Green the rights to move the Minnesota North Stars to any open market as consolation for putting an expansion team in Anaheim, where he’d wanted to move, and he ended up going to Dallas. Also it has Roger Staubach in the headline for some reason.
And here’s a story about how 50 years ago NHL expansion inadvertently kicked off the rise of arena rock, which is probably overstated but it has links to vintage Cream videos in it, if you like that sort of thing.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is in talks with the Football Association to buy London’s Wembley Stadium for £600 million, which is certain to raise eyebrows about the possibility of the Jags moving to London, but is probably for right now more about Fulham F.C., which Khan also owns, being about to get promoted to the Premier League and wanting a bigger place to play. Khan also said, “I think it needs investment and updating. Compared to American stadiums the video boards are something that need to be looked at. The lounges are a little bit dated.” The current Wembley Stadium was built in 2007.
I can’t believe none of you wrote in to ask why I hadn’t reported on a Toronto Blue Jays game getting postponed due to falling ice puncturing a hole in the stadium roof, but I guess you’re all acclimated to waiting for the Friday roundup now for that sort of thing. But wait no longer! (Well, wait a few bullet points for that one in particular.)
Some Portland, Oregon businesspeople who want to bring major-league baseball to that city say they’ve put in bids for two potential stadium sites, which doesn’t actually promise anything — they can use the land for something else if an MLB bid doesn’t go anywhere — but is more than nothing, I suppose. There’s still legislation passed in 2003 authorizing $150 million in bonds for a new stadium, to be repaid by state income taxes on players — which wouldn’t have penciled out 15 years ago, but might now, though it still has the problem that much of that tax money would be diverted from income that would be earned by people working in other entertainment jobs in the absence of a team — but how the rest of the money would be raised, or what team exactly would play in Portland, remains a mystery.
People in Boise are really steamed about plans for a new $40 million minor-league baseball stadium that would be funded partly by public money. The word “carpetbagger” was used; parental discretion is advised.
MLS officials have met with prospective owners in Columbus who want to keep the Crew in town, while also conducting “a review of potential local stadium sites for the team.” The Crew’s current stadium is 19 years old. This is your dystopian future.
Tampa Bay Rays chief development officer Melanie Lenz, in response to concerns that a big-ass baseball stadium wouldn’t fit into the Ybor City historic district that it would be on the border of, said that “we expect to build a next-generation, neighborhood ballpark that fits within the fabric of the Ybor City community,” though she didn’t give any details. That’s vague enough to be reassuring without actually promising anything concrete, but it’s worth making a note of just in case the historic district ends up becoming a stumbling block in stadium talks, which, stranger things have happened.
A guy wants to start a football league where fans vote on what plays to run via Twitch, and build an arena in Las Vegas for people to watch … the players? The voting? The Las Vegas Review-Journal article about it was a bit unclear, though it did say that the organizers want to “create the experience of playing a football video game with real people,” which isn’t creepy at all. It also reports that the league plans to use blockchain technology, which is how you know it’s probably a sham.
Something called the Badger Herald, which I assume is a University of Wisconsin student paper but which I really hope is a newspaper targeted entirely at badgers, ran an article by a junior economics major arguing that the new Milwaukee Bucks arena will be a boon to the city because during the first few years “many will come from across the state to watch the Bucks play in this impressive new facility” and after that it will “continue giving the people of Milwaukee a reason to be optimistic.” The author also says that the arena was built after “the NBA gave the Bucks an ultimatum — either obtain a new arena, or the NBA would buy the Bucks and sell the franchise to another city,” which, uh, no, that’s not what happened at all.
Here’s a really nice article for CBS Sports by my old Baseball Prospectus colleague Dayn Perry on the Chicago White Sox ballpark proposed by architect Philip Bess that never got built. Come for the cool pictures of spiders, stay for the extended explanation of why supporting columns that obstruct some views are a design feature that stadium architects never should have abandoned!
That Missouri governor who killed a proposed St. Louis MLS stadium subsidy, calling it “welfare for millionaires,” is now under pressure to resign after his former hairdresser claimed he groped her, slapped her, and coerced her into sex acts. Maybe we should just stop electing men to public office? Just a thought.
F.C. Cincinnati owners are officially pivoting back to the West End stadium site that it had declared dead last month after not getting offered enough property-tax breaks on the land. How come? Team CEO Jeff Berding said of the other two options, Oakley is “not as close to the urban core as desired,” and the team couldn’t secure land in Newport, Kentucky. Sounds like the West End has the club over somewhat of a barrel, which it should be able to use to ensure the team pays full property taxes, at least, though some residents may be more concerned about keeping out a stadium entirely over fears it will further gentrify their neighborhood.
The mayor of Montreal is meeting today with an ownership group that wants to bring a new Expos MLB team back to town. “We don’t need a cent from the city of Montreal, but we need a little help,” prospective co-owner Stephen Bronfman said earlier this week; your guess is as good as mine what that actually means.
Minnesota taxpayers have spent $1.4 billion on new or renovated sports venues over the past 20 years, if anyone is counting.
“A deputy in one of Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities has claimed that a latest inspection by the world’s footballing body has neglected a missing column at a newly built stadium.” You’ve just got to read the whole Moscow Times article now, don’t you?
The famed on-field flagpole that once stood in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium (and still stands on the site) will become an ad for a nut company, which will fly its flag from atop the pole. Is this more or less a tribute to craven greed and disrespect for humanity than flying the U.S. flag was? Discuss!
Carlos Monarraz of the Detroit Free Press thinks the reason behind all the empty seats at Pistons games is that fans would rather watch the game on TV from the arena’s bar, which is either a pathetic cover story or a pathetic reality or both, I can’t say which for sure. Discuss! (Bonus content: Article features a 69-year-old fan saying, “I used to cheer, ‘Rah-rah-ree, kick ’em in the knee!’ I don’t even feel comfortable shouting out anymore.” Not sure whether this means he’s Monty Burns or The Terror.)