NBA gets even more money from cable fees, setting selves up to seek even more money from everything else

So yeah, the NBA has a new cable deal that will pay them all the moneys starting in 2016, and people are already asking me what I think of it. Deadspin has already provided a good answer, but for those who are too busy to read an entire explainer, let’s boil it down to its most important sentence:

Your cable bill will increase a couple of dollars a month solely because of the NBA.

Also, a lot of NBA players and owners will become even richer. Capitalism!

I’ve also gotten questions (tongue in cheek, I hope) about whether this will mean that NBA owners will now have so much of the moneys that they won’t be demanding new arenas anymore, to which I say: If anyone thinks that the reason that owners are asking for subsidies is because they’re running too low on cash, and if they have bigger piles of cash then they’ll be happy and won’t need any more, then they probably haven’t been paying attention. In America, there is no such thing as “enough cash.”

Seattle arena finally making money, now that NBA has left town

Ever since the Seattle Sonics abandoned KeyArena for Oklahoma City, the old venue has been … doing really, really well, actually, according to the people who run it:

The arena is now quite profitable, thank you — much more so than in the days of the Sonics, to the surprise of many who saw an uncertain future for the sports venue after the team’s departure in 2009.

The Lower Queen Anne facility has gone from losing money in the Sonics’ final years to turning more than $1.2 million in profit for Seattle last year.

The trick? Instead of having to set dates aside for the Sonics, the arena is booking more concerts, which actually pay rent. Hmm, where have we heard this before?

It certainly helps that KeyArena’s construction debt is paid off, with the help of the Sonics owners paying off a chunk of it as part of their deal to skip town. Still, this is a good reminder that sports teams aren’t quite the economic anchors they pretend to be, and maybe a good sign that KeyArena could coexist with a new building if one is ever built to bring back the NBA to—

Ironically, if the NBA ever returned to Seattle, likely in a new arena, the Sonics’ old home would suffer. Another reason KeyArena has remained sustainable is because it hasn’t had to compete with another arena.

Forget I said anything. Seattle, be very happy you only have one arena, and one pro basketball team.

Phoenix Suns owner says “we have to get a new arena built,” because old one is from 1992, already

And I guess that’s about it for this morning … wait, what?!?

“We’re definitely going to have to get a new arena built,” [Phoenix Suns owner Robert] Sarver said. “Our lease runs for another eight years maybe. Between us and the city, we’ve done a good job maintaining it despite its age but it’s starting to run out of gas. It’s like a house. It gets to be 30 years old and then you’ve got a lot of work to do. You can remodel or build a new house.”

You know, when people started asking me, about ten years ago, whether the new stadium game was going to soon run its course, because every team would already have a new building, and I said, “Nah, then the first teams that got new venues will just circle around and get back on line,” I thought I was joking, at least a little bit. But the way things are going — the Suns’ current arena opened in 1992, if you’re counting — it seems like every sports owner in the country is treating 30 years as the maximum shelf life before they can demand a new building, except for those that are using an even shorter timeline.

For reference, teams whose stadiums will turn 30 over the next eight years include the Miami Dolphins, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore OriolesMilwaukee BucksDetroit PistonsMinnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz, with the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks coming up right on their heels. The Dolphins are already renovating their stadium with public help, while the Bucks are angling for a whole new building; anyone care to guess which of the others on this list will be next to hop back on line?

Milwaukee business group proposes spending so much on Bucks arena and museums, they can’t even count it all

Milwaukee’s Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force — an epic name for what’s really just a committee of the local chamber of commerce — issued its recommendations for how much the city should plan on spending for a new Bucks arena and on local museums and zoos. And the answer is, unsurprisingly: a lot. Though perhaps more surprisingly, it’s not clear exactly how much of a lot:

It will take nearly $34 million each year over a 20-year period to address deferred maintenance needs and capital improvements at four major Milwaukee cultural institutions and provide public financing for a new arena…

According to the presentation, the total estimated investment over 20 years would be $445 million, not including interest. No figure was offered for a 20-year cost that includes the cost of borrowing.

Okay, so not counting interest, $34 million a year for 20 years would come to … $445 million? Wait, that’s not how multiplication works. And adding operating costs for all the facilities would, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, mean “an estimated $44.9 million would be needed each year totaling $675 million over 20 years” … which doesn’t add up either. Come on, doesn’t anybody at the Journal Sentinel have a calculator?

Anyway, the task force also proposed a whole bunch of ways to raise public money toward these pressing needs, including a sin tax on alcohol and cigarette sales, tax increment financing, ticket taxes, or a sales tax hike. The apparent goal of all this is to muddy the waters by dumping a whole bunch of different projects into one pile, throwing out a long list of different financing plans, and then hoping people focus on deciding which option they find least distasteful instead of questioning why the chamber of commerce gets to decide city spending priorities in the first place. In fact, maybe this explains the math issues — we’ll know for sure what they’re up to if the next Journal Sentinel reader poll turns out to be “What do you think 34,000,000 times 20 equals?”

Brooklyn arena tower builder ups and quits, affordable housing back on “maybe someday” timetable

Skanska, the Swedish construction giant that previously stopped work on the first housing tower slated to accompany the Brooklyn Nets arena — which, so it happens, is right down the street from the library where I am typing this — has now quit the project altogether, on the grounds that it is a fruitless money suck:

Skanska USA Building canceled its contract Tuesday for the much-anticipated yet long-delayed modular apartment building at Forest City Ratner Cos.’ 22-acre Atlantic Yards project, which was recently rebranded Pacific Park—though the long-running legal dispute is far from over.

“We could not continue to incur millions of dollars in extra costs with little hope that Forest City would take responsibility for fixing the significant commercial and design issues on the project,” Richard Kennedy, co-chief operating officer at Skanska USA Building, a subsidiary of Swedish construction company Skanska, said in a statement.

The timing of the announcement was not accidental: As Atlantic Yards Report reports, Forest City Ratner and Skanska had a court date today to try to resolve the construction contract, which has now officially expired. Instead, Skanska wants FCR to re-bid the work back out to them as a job (enabling them to keep running the custom modular construction unit factory — aka GIANT LEGO FARM — at a price they’re happier with), while FCR wants the judge to order the factory to reopen, and let FCR run it, or something like that. The judge, from the sound of it thoroughly disgusted with the whole matter, ordered the two sides back to the bargaining table, but if all they’re going to say is “Screw you!” “No, screw you!” then this isn’t going to get very far.

And speaking of not getting very far, what likely happens next?

Scarpulla did give Forest City a smaller win, agreeing was a “Major Decision” for the LLC to change its managing member, and forced Skanska to hold a vote it had otherwise avoided.
That vote, presumably ending in a 3-3 tie, would trigger a months-long deadlock process contemplated by contract, leading to potential buyout of one or the other’s interests.
That, over time, also would jeopardize the modular factory’s future, given the need to rehire and/or retrain workers, and further delay the completion of B2.
No wonder Scarpulla several times urged the parties to consider mediation. “I’m not trying to scold anyone,” she said. “I’m just saying that the path you’re going down is just going to cost you more money.”

Yep, this is only going to get uglier from here. Good thing it’s just a private construction dispute, and not something that was being counted on as the payoff for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and other public subsidies — oh, wait.

New Warriors arena renderings still look like toilet, sorry

When Snøhetta, the super-hip Norwegian architecture firm, released its initial overhead renderings of a proposed Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco last month, everyone was quick to say, “Ha ha ha ha, it looks like a toilet lid!” Well, now we have additional renderings on hand from more human angles, and:

Yeah, that’s pretty much a toilet.

It looks somewhat better from street level:

One problem with these renderings (aside from that they’re black and white line drawings, so it’s tough to tell what they’d really look like) is that they lack any context: How tall would that building on the right tower over the surrounding area? What would that plaza full of tiny blob-people open onto? Again, given that this is Snøhetta’s wheelhouse, I’d think we’d be seeing more of that here, but even for design firms that pride themselves on fitting architecture seamlessly into surrounding space, the first rule is “the customer is always right.”

(And before anyone says anything: Yes, at least the Warriors owners say they’ll pursue the project with all private dollars, including paying for the land. Unless you count trying to skip out on their debt to Oakland for their old arena, of course.)

Guy wants to raise sales tax to fund Bucks arena, gets in paper because he’s landed gentry

The Milwaukee Business Journal reports that Gary Grunau has proposed funding a new Bucks stadium with the help of a 0.5% sales-tax hike throughout Milwaukee County. And who is Gary Grunau?

Milwaukee County should enact an 0.5 percent sales tax that would sunset after six years and provide $400 million toward improvements at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and Milwaukee Public Museum as well as a new downtown arena and a streetcar system linking the city’s universities, Milwaukee commercial real estate developer Gary Grunau proposed Friday.

You know, there are all kinds of people with suggestions about what to do about a Bucks arena. Most of them, including close to two-thirds of those in Milwaukee County itself, do not want to raise sales taxes to give money to the Bucks for a new arena. Those people do not own lots of property, however, so they don’t get to have their pet plans published in the local business journal.

And what does Grunau have to say about those who are opposed to subsidizing the Bucks with sales tax dollars?

“A half cent is 50 cents on a hundred-dollar purchase, which isn’t going to kill anybody in this community,” Grunau said.

Or, looked at another way, it’s half a billion dollars total, which if not spent available for other needs, kinda could kill somebody. Isn’t math fun?

Atlanta mayor offers Hawks $150m not to move, not that they were threatening to

Man, did everything in the stadium and arena world happen yesterday, or what? Well, let’s get started and see how far we get:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s getting involved in negotiations over who will buy the Hawks now that majority owner Bruce Levenson stepped down over revelations that he ordered staffers to fire black cheerleaders and play less hip-hop music in order to placate racist white fans. And by “involved” he means “offering them public money to insure they stay in town“:

Reed said the city will likely be willing to offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. He said there could be as much as $150 million available after the city sells Turner Field, the current home of the Braves, though the mayor said that process has been held up by the baseball team’s refusal to set a definite date for its departure.

Now, nobody involved with the Hawks has said boo about moving the team, but apparently Reed is concerned enough to throw $150 million on the table without even being asked. It’s especially dubious given that the Hawks’ lease requires them to pay off the remaining bonds on their arena (around $100 million at this point) before they could leave, plus another $75 million in an early termination fee if they left before the 2018-19 season. Plus, of course, they’d have to have somewhere to move to that would be more lucrative than Atlanta.

Reed is talking about asking any new owner to commit to staying in town for another 30 years, which, given that the arena bonds will currently be paid off in 2028, really amounts to a 16-year extension on their lease. $150 million in exchange for staying put for 16 years … I guess it could be worse, but it still amounts to paying the Hawks almost $10 million a year just to keep on doing what they’re doing already. This negative rent trend is really starting to get out of hand, though I guess in a world where the NFL expects musicians to pay to play at the Super Bowl halftime show, it’s not entirely unexpected.

Milwaukee paper wants you to know how urgent Bucks owners are for arena, whether they are or not

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel where-will-we-put-the-new-Bucks-arena correspondent Don Walker has another update for us, people!

Bucks owners hope to pick site for new arena by year’s end

So, that’s kind of news. Also kind of familiar. Didn’t Walker just write this article?

Local leaders say arena plans must be in place by new year

Oh, okay, before it was the local chamber of commerce head saying he wanted arena plans finalized by the end of the year. Now it’s the Bucks owners saying the same thing. What did they actually say, anyway?

Asked about a timetable, Edens said, “as soon as possible. But that doesn’t mean tomorrow. The reality is a decision like this is a critical one. We would hope to be in the position of having a site by the end of the year. … But it’s not entirely in our control.”

That’s … not actually a timetable, is it? Good thing Edens stuck in an actual date somewhere in his comments, so that the Journal-Sentinel had something to hang a headline on. I’d assumed that Walker’s constant harping on an arena site was because he was too willing to reprint anything that people in positions of power told him, but maybe I’m not giving him enough credit — maybe he’s actually trying to get an arena deal done ASAP so that he can finally be released from his purgatory of having to write the same article over and over and over again. Where’s Heracles when you need him?

Milwaukee paper now just writing about every possible place Bucks could put an arena

The Buffalo News may be trying to be your news leader in focusing obsessively on where to put the new sports venue that nobody knows how to pay for yet, but Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel isn’t going to take that lying down. Walker’s gone this route before, but today he doubles down on head-down where-will-it-go reporting, with the headline:

Is UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena a possible new arena site?

Well, that sounds like news, anyway? What’s the answer?

Franklyn Gimbel of the Wisconsin Center District says he has been assured by someone at City Hall that a new arena in Milwaukee will not be built on land now occupied by the 64-year-old UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena…

But Mayor Tom Barrett says that’s not true. Every potential site downtown is still on the table, he says.

So either “no” or “yes, the same as every other site in Milwaukee,” depending on who you believe. This could be a great way for Walker to fill column inches (or screens, I guess, since this is a web article): All he needs is a map of Milwaukee and a dart, and he can keep writing this same column for years.