- Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall says now that the team has been granted control over their stadium, “we’ve kind of tapped the brakes on” moving elsewhere. “We had urgency before because we didn’t control the stadium,” said Hall, adding, “We’re going to kick the tires around Maricopa County. But we’re going to stay here. My focus is on Arizona. And we’re going to do everything we can to stay at Chase Field.” That’s quite a turnaround from saying that the 22-year-old stadium is in such bad shape they might have to move entirely out of the state to get away from it, but anyway, this looks like a pretty nice upgrade!
- In related news, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno says that now that he’s set to gain control of development of the parking lots around Angel Stadium, he still doesn’t know whether he’ll use the cash to replace the stadium or renovate it or what. It’s almost like team owners just disparage their stadiums in order to get hold of land or other concessions, even if they’re not really that desperate to move, especially when moving would require paying for their own stadium construction! Meanwhile, the city of Anaheim has officially rejected claims that it violated public-meeting laws by holding meetings about the Angels land sale in private, which means that now those who disagree can sue the city, which they’re expected to momentarily.
- The Vegas Golden Knights are set to build their new minor-league arena at the site of the Henderson Pavilion amphitheater, and local residents are all up in arms because nobody warned them and they’re afraid it will bring traffic. Also city officials say this “will be a public/private partnership but we are in the very preliminary planning stages and don’t yet have all the details,” maybe that’s the thing to worry about more than traffic generated by minor-league hockey?
- New Jersey just discovered that the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers used $400,000 in tax breaks in 2016 to pay the fees required for applying for $82 million in tax breaks on a new practice facility in Camden. New Jersey would like its money back now, please — not all $82 million, but just the excess $400,000, because that’ll show ’em.
- Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says that “if things blow through this year and we sell a ton more tickets — a ton,” then maybe he’ll consider keeping the team in Tampa Bay full-time. Sternberg is gonna extort something from somebody, by gum, if he has to threaten everyone in North America!
- People are still hiring Convention, Sports & Leisure to do their stadium and arena impact studies, I honestly don’t know how much more I can warn them.
- “Are stadiums effective engines of economic growth? Simple answer: No.” There’s more to this interview with Davidson College economics professor Fred Smith, but that’s a decent tl;dr version.
- Wake County, North Carolina, is planning to spend $59 million over the next 25 years on a $193 million, 4,000-seat arena and community sports complex, the rest of which would be paid for by … thingy. Anyone who has more information about this project, please start a news site in North Carolina, as clearly none of the few remaining professional journalists on the job there have both time and interest to find out about this one.
Hey, there might actually be somebody crazy enough to want to own an NFL team in London! According to NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence writing on the Forbes website, “industry sources” say that Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, are “gunning to own the first NFL team in London.” In fact, their recent purchase of minority shares of the Premier League’s Crystal Palace, according to Lawrence, is an attempt to “get to know the market” in advance of a London NFL push.
Lawrence is a former New York Daily News basketball columnist now writing for Forbes as a “contributor” (i.e., freelance, possibly not paid); the number of named sources in his story is zero, which is always a bit of a red flag, and Lawrence’s previous record with unnamed sources includes plenty of misses. Presumably somebody chose to leak this through him, likely Harris and Blitzer themselves, which would make sense if they want to position themselves as the top candidates to get a London expansion franchise if one becomes available for the right price … but now we’re deep into multiple levels of speculation. File this one away, anyway, and if it comes up again, preferably from someone with an actual name, we can start to take it more seriously.
There’s been an escalation in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ ongoing war against their arena’s naming rights sponsor — you can read all about it here, but the short version is the Flyers get all the naming rights cash so the 76ers owners have sworn not to use the corporate name at all — and it is awesome for anyone who’s a fan of passive-aggressive typography:
That is “Wells Fargo Center” written as small as possible, in white lettering against a light-wood floor, so that no one will ever be able to read it or even notice it without a big red oval drawn around it by the Philly Voice’s art department. Apparently the only reason it’s on the court at all is to meet the letter of some league rule — I bet there’s going to be some fun times debating font sizes at the next meeting of the NBA’s Court Branding Subcommittee.
I go back and forth on whether to use corporate names of sports venues on this site — on the one hand, it’s silly not to use the name that everyone uses for a building, on the other, with constantly changing names half the time regular humans just call it “the [name of team] stadium” anyway. But the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers just potentially blew up the whole naming-rights game, by declaring that they’re no longer going to refer to their arena by it’s corporate-designated name, because the corporation in question isn’t one of their sponsors:
The Sixers have decided to stop referring to the Wells Fargo Center by name in all news releases and on the team website because the financial institution chose not to become a business partner with the basketball franchise.
This season, the 76ers started referring to the 20,000-seat arena simply as The Center…
Chris Heck, chief revenue officer of the 76ers, said the team values its partners and tries to maximize its relationships.
“We also continue to enjoy our relationship with Comcast Spectacor as tenants at a world-class arena, but that particular bank is currently not a sponsor of the Philadelphia 76ers,” Heck said.
So a bit of background: Comcast Spectacor is not only a giant cable and arena management company, but also owner of the Flyers, who own Philadelphia’s arena. Wells Fargo is the bank that bought Wachovia, which in turn bought First Union Bank, which bought CoreStates Bank, which agreed to pay $2 million a year through the year 2024 to slap its name, or that of its successors, on the building. Since the 76ers aren’t getting any of that money, and are free to sign up their own “official bank of the 76ers” that may not be Wells Fargo, why should they agree to use the name?
It’s a reminder of the ephemeral nature of corporate naming rights, in which tens or even hundreds of millions change hands for something that depends on regular people agreeing to actually go along with the paid nomenclature. Ever since the Denver Post caved in on trying to call the Broncos‘ new stadium “Mile High Field” rather than whatever its naming-rights sponsor wanted, the supremacy of paid names has been mostly unquestioned. However, the 76ers’ move — which is unlikely to be widely replicated, since most teams are the ones getting the naming-rights fees, but anyway — is a reminder that while you can put a big sign on a building, you can’t force people to say the words.
Already, Deadspin has announced its intentions to follow suit — “the next time you read us writing about something occurring at Tropicana Field, feel free to (politely) drop into the comments and remind us that we aren’t getting free juice boxes, and that it’s actually the Florida Suncoast Dome” — and you have to wonder if other corporate-sponsorship-hungry media outlets will eventually follow suit. Though come to think of it, a world where every website uses its own name for things based on who paid them for it is even scarier than the one we already have. It all just makes me want to crawl back into Sleepy’s Mattress bed.
The watchdog group New Jersey Policy Perspective has issued its analysis of that state’s plan to reimburse the Philadelphia 76ers for the entire cost of a practice facility in Camden, N.J., and as you might expect, the numbers are pretty dismal:
- The state would cough up $82 million over 10 years in “tax credits,” which in this case appears to be less actual kickbacks of actual taxes than just “the public cuts you a bunch of $8.2 million checks.” That’s a present value of about $63 million.
- In exchange the state would gain 250 jobs that would shift across the river from Philadelphia, though no doubt many if not all would be part-time, given that basketball teams don’t practice 365 days a year. That’s a cost-per-job ratio of $252,000, which even in the world of corporate relocation subsidies is exceptionally craptacular.
- Even the state’s own economic projections say that the economic impact is incredibly low: $76.6 million over 35 years, for a present value of just $36 million. Adds NJPP: “That is, if the team even stays that long, since they will only be required to stay for 15 before they can seek tax breaks elsewhere.”
And it’s even worse than that, because with those part-time jobs just shifting across the Delaware River, it’s inevitable that the vast majority of workers will continue to be the same people who the 76ers employ now, living in the same states they do presently. So New Jersey would get a small bump in income tax receipts pro-rated to the handful of days per year they were in Camden, and sales taxes from anyone going out to buy lunch, and … that’s about it.
On the bright side, it’s not like the Sixers’ billionaire owner Josh Harris is getting singled out for this lavish treatment: New Jersey has already doled out $4 billion in corporate subsidies since Chris Christie became governor in 2010. Wait, that’s not a bright side. Unless you’re one of the 252 business owners who’s divvied up that swag, in which case these are very bright times indeed.
The Philadelphia 76ers are looking to build a practice facility in Camden, N.J., and by “build” I mean “have the state of New Jersey build entirely for them with tax credits“:
The cost of the facility is still undetermined, according to the league source, who also didn’t divulge the amount in tax credits the Sixers will receive. However, another source believes it’s a dollar-for-dollar deal – meaning if the team spent $50 million on a facility, it would be entitled to $50 million in tax credits.