Friday roundup: Kraft tries to use World Cup to get new stadium, Roger Noll says Austin MLS subsidies are indeed subsidies, NC mulls new tax breaks for Panthers

Posting this while watching the first World Cup match at the crazy stadium with the seats outside the stadium. (I haven’t honestly even noticed who the teams are yet, I’m just watching the architecture.) Anyhoo:

Friday roundup: Nevada gov candidate threatens Raiders’ roads, Phoenix sued over Suns arena plans, Rays stadium could seek Trump tax break

And the rest of the week’s news:

Friday roundup: Why Pistons fans can’t bear to watch, Broncos land grab move, Donald Trump could win Morocco the World Cup, and more!

All evidence to the contrary, spring (and the spring end-of-legislative-session season) must be getting nearer, because the stack of weekly roundup news items in my Instapaper is getting longer and longer each week. Better get down to it:

Friday roundup: Crew claps back at Modell Law suit, Cincy mayor thinks his citizens are dumb, Wrigley Field is a construction zone again

This week brought thundersnow that led to a fireball in a subway tunnel, but the stadium and arena news was reasonably exciting too:

  • Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt says the lawsuit to force him to offer the team for sale to local owners before moving it to Austin is groundless, since he made “significant investments” in the team “both on and off the field” and yet the team isn’t making money hand over fist like he’d like it to. I would have gone with “fine, you can buy the team if you want, my asking price is one quattuordecillion dollars,” but that’s why Precourt pays himself the big bucks.
  • Oakland Raiders management says it has identified room for 27,000 parking spaces within 1.5 miles of its Las Vegas stadium, and 100,000 spaces within three miles. “Now, obviously, people don’t want to walk three miles, so you have to have a pretty strong infrastructure program and transportation plan in place,” said Raiders president Marc Badain. “We’re working on all of that.” Cool, get back to us!
  • Residents of the West End opposed to building an F.C. Cincinnati soccer stadium on the site of a revered high school football stadium there are all about “maintaining disinvestment, maintaining the status quo and not closing racial and economic gaps but keeping them divided,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said this week. “I think that’s wrong.” But enough with the pandering to your constituents, Mayor Cranley what do you really think about them?
  • Because no arena project can truly be cost-free for the public, the new Muni Metro stop being built at the Golden State Warriors‘ new San Francisco arena has now risen in cost to $51 million, and the city of San Francisco hasn’t figured out how to pay for $17 million of that yet. Not that a new mass transit stop isn’t a public benefit for people other than Warriors fans, but just saying.
  • This is what Wrigley Field looked like as of a couple of weeks ago. There’s still time before opening day, so hopefully this renovation will go better than the Chicago Cubslast big one.
  • Does an “asteroid the size of a sports stadium” zooming past Earth count as stadium news? It does to my custom RSS feed for “stadium” news, so enjoy!

Friday roundup: Some stuff happened, man

I’ve pieced together this week’s news roundup via WiFi made from powdered limestone and gum-tree resin, so if I missed anything important, let me know and I’ll pick it up starting Monday. In the meantime:

  • The state of Connecticut approved spending $10 million to renovate Hartford’s Dillon Stadium if it can lure a USL soccer team. In totally unrelated news, the last guy who promised to lure a soccer team to Dillon Stadium is awaiting sentencing for embezzling city funds spent on the project. Second time’s the charm!
  • That Koch Brothers–sponsored bill to ban sports subsidies in Arizona that got all the attention last week is now apparently dead after it was opposed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, Arizona and Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. Maybe it’ll have better luck in one of the other 24 states where Americans for Prosperity said they were introducing it, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
  • The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Politics Extra column says that the West End is going to get gentrified against its will whether it likes it or not, so shouldn’t it be by a local guy who wants to build an F.C. Cincinnati soccer stadium as part of it, and not “a developer from, say, New York or Chicago who doesn’t know or care about you or your homes”? Yes, it really truly says that.
  • The Oakland Raiders‘ Las Vegas stadium-building company is proposing to provide a $5 million bond to restore the stadium land to its original condition in the event that construction has to be halted partway through if it goes bankrupt. This is simultaneously an excellent way to safeguard the public interest in all contingencies (except for the $750 million the public would be out either way, obviously) and also really not the kind of thing you want newspaper readers to be thinking about when your new multi-billion-dollar stadium project is about to get underway. Here’s hoping Roger Noll is wrong about this thing having a shot at working.
  • The Miami-Dade County lawsuit against the Marlins‘ former owner Jeffrey Loria and current owners Derek Jeter and Friends over not cutting the county in on a share of the team sale proceeds went to court yesterday, and probably something happened, but it’ll be next week before the latest news story loads for me, so somebody recap anything important in comments, okay? I’ll see you next week.

Raiders’ lease blocks Nevada from levying ticket taxes, we’ve heard this song before

The Washington Times had a big article yesterday on the Oakland Raiders‘ lease for their new stadium in Las Vegas, and how it contains a provision that would prevent the state from trying to recoup its $750 million in stadium costs by levying new taxes on the team down the road:

An unusual provision in the Raiders agreement with the state allows the team, currently playing its final seasons in Oakland, to break the lease and look for another home if Nevada attempts to impose new taxes over the next three decades on the team, stadium, fans or players. That includes visiting teams and fans as well.

The provision applies to any “targeted tax” aimed at collecting revenue specifically from players or fans. It would not protect the team or its fans from any new taxes applied generally on businesses or individuals across Nevada, however.

I’m quote in this article, calling the lease clause “adding insult to injury” since it “makes sure Nevada taxpayers never see a penny from the stadium.” Which is true, but what the Times left out was that I mentioned this isn’t unheard of — other teams have leases that prohibit local governments from levying team-specific taxes as well. This is probably because I didn’t actually cite any examples to the Times reporter — I was busy and couldn’t look any up — but a quick search through the FoS archives reveals two examples right off the bat:

  • The Cincinnati Bengals and Reds owners have lease clauses that allow them to block ticket tax surcharges during the course of their leases, and did so in 2010.
  • The owners of Minnesota United asked for limits on that state’s ability to impose future taxes on the team, though I’m having a hard time confirming whether that provision made it into the final lease agreement. (The world really needs a database of stadium leases. Get right on that, world, okay?)

I realize this isn’t overwhelming evidence, but it is a sign that the Raiders clause isn’t entirely unprecedented, even if the Times reports that Temple economist Michael Leeds said, in the paper’s words, that this provision “goes beyond anything he has ever seen.” And it makes sense that team owners would try to forestall ticket surcharges: As we’ve covered before, targeted ticket taxes tend to mostly come out of team owners’ pockets because, unlike other taxes, they reduce the amount of money an owner can get away with charging for tickets. So if you sign a 30-year lease and then the state turns around and says, “Hey, $10 surcharge on all your tickets, we get the money!” and you can’t get out of the lease, that’s a huge chunk of change that is suddenly going out of your pocket and into the public’s.

Which, of course, is exactly why it’s so disappointing that the Raiders lease contains this clause — with the state already on the hook for $750 million, a ticket tax would have been one of the only ways for taxpayers to get some of that money back. But the Raiders had smart contract lawyers, so that’s not going to be happening. Evidence really is accumulating that Mark Davis may be smarter than he looks.

Raiders agree to cut UNLV in on luxury suite money to keep their $750m in state subsidies

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has cut a deal with the Oakland Raiders to rent their new Las Vegas stadium once it opens in 2020, and it sounds like the university made out pretty well:

Per the draft agreement, UNLV would be able to sell as many as 70 percent of the anticipated 100 luxury suites for its six annual home games in the $1.8 billion stadium. The university would keep money from those sales, as well as club level and non-premium seat revenues as well. Off-limits would be 22 “owner’s level” suites and eight other designated suites.

The first draft terms would have given the Raiders exclusive right to sell luxury suites and club seating for UNLV football games as part of larger packages including Raiders games and other major events…

UNLV maintains control of its parking destiny as well, a notable change from the deal first proposed by the Raiders. The agreement explicitly states that “no portion of UNLV’s property will be used by (the Raiders) for parking for Raiders’ home games or other stadium events.” It also allows UNLV the right to use and maintain revenue from the stadium’s 2,375 on-site parking spaces.

UNLV also can use any off-site parking sites obtained or leased by the Raiders, but the Raiders would keep revenue from those areas.

Given that Raiders execs initially wanted to keep all the luxury-suite money from UNLV games (only paying the university the equivalent price for regular tickets) and to use 80 acres of school land for parking, this is a nice bit of negotiating by the university. That they were able to pull it off no doubt comes down to one line in the Las Vegas Sun article about all this:

Senate Bill 1, the state legislation approved in October 2016 that provided $750 million in taxpayer funds to build the stadium, required the Raiders to share the facility with UNLV’s football team as a condition of receiving the money.

When there’s $750 million at risk, that’ll bring the other side to the negotiating table in a hurry. Not that UNLV doesn’t still deserve props — as we’ve covered here before at length, not every public negotiator knows how to use leverage even when it’s handed to them on a silver platter. But at least one public institution showed it could drive a hard bargain, even if it decidedly wasn’t the state stadium authority.

Friday roundup: Battles over Blues arena, Vegas bond subsidy, Belmont land for Islanders

Let’s get right to this week’s remainders:

Handicapping Deadspin’s “Worst Stadium Scam” Vote

Deadspin is holding its second annual Deadspin Awards, and among the categories, you will be excited to know, is Worst Stadium Scam. And it’s set to be a tight race, with these candidates, not all of which are technically from 2017, but let’s not nitpick:

  • The Raiders robbing Las Vegas
  • The Flames trying to rob Calgary
  • The Falcons robbing Atlanta
  • The Louisville Cardinals robbing Louisville
  • FC Cincinnati robbing Cincinnati
  • The Pistons and Red Wings robbing Detroit

Even though these seem mostly selected by which stories were covered by Deadspin in the last year (Nashville SC robbing Nashville didn’t make the cut, nor did the Cavaliers robbing Cleveland), that’s a pretty solid selection. The Raiders and Falcons stand out for the scale of the subsidies — the Raiders will get $750 million in state cash while paying zero rent, while the Falcons will end up getting almost that much over time — and the Falcons have the bonus scamminess of hiding $400 million of their payday in a “waterfall fund” that will keep paying out long after the stadium’s opening. The Flames and FC Cincinnati haven’t been successful in their shakedowns yet, but are notable for trying (and failing) to get a more team-friendly mayor elected in the former case, and for demanding subsidies on the grounds that their owner has never asked for them before so he’s due in the latter. The Red Wings and Pistons are getting about $350 million in public money from a bankrupt city (or from a state that is otherwise starving a bankrupt city, at least), while the Louisville basketball arena deal is just a nightmare without an end.

I’m not going to reveal how I voted, except to say that it was a tough decision, and I won’t be unhappy at all if one of my second choices takes home the prize. Go cast your ballot now, and give extortionate corporate behavior and terrible public policy the shiny trophy it so desperately deserves.

Vegas paper says Raiders stadium “could” prompt development, in pioneering move of subjunctive journalism

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has presumably not needed to be in the business of boosterism for a new Raiders stadium since its owner, Sheldon Adelson, was cut out of the stadium deal early this year, but old habits die hard. So we have this article from Saturday’s paper, which looks at whether development is taking off around the stadium site, and follows this thought process:

  • There hasn’t been a ton of new interest in buying up land around stadium site.
  • One developer did buy a 2.5-acre parcel for about six times the going rate per acre, and now other landowners are looking for premium prices as well.
  • Conclude that whether or not the stadium actually results in new development, “at the very least, it seems the Raiders’ arrival has pushed up some property values.”
  • Run all this under the headline “Las Vegas Raiders stadium could spark nearby projects,” because in an infinite universe, anything could happen.

I’m honestly kind of sorry to have spent this much of your time and mine on this, but it’s important to see how that “stadiums bring economic development” meme we were just talking about spreads: A whole lot of people are going to see that headline in their daily newspaper (or, let’s be real, in their Facebook feeds) and think, “Oh, hey, maybe that Raiders stadium deal will be a boon to the surrounding area!” Whereas all that’s really happened is one guy gambled by spending $7.25 million on a plot of land the size of 2,500 king-size mattresses, and now everyone else is hoping that their property will be worth more now, and, bingo, newspaper headline. Thank god for journalism, or we might be forced to use the evidence provided by our own eyes.