Here’s what you missed this week, or rather what I missed, or rather what I saw at the time but left till Friday because there are only so many hours in the week, man:
- The Oakland Raiders are negotiating with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority for a lease extension that would let them play in Oakland through 2020, despite a Las Vegas stadium being in the works to open that year. Which makes sense for the Raiders — they need to be sure of a place to play even if there are stadium construction delays — but for Oakland’s sake I hope the authority drives a hard bargain with Raiders owner Mark Davis, because if you’re going to charge through the nose on stadium rent, negotiating with a team that has literally nowhere else to go when you have no real incentive to want them to stay on a lame-duck deal is exactly the time to do it.
- The Los Angeles Rams are on pace to set a new record for the biggest ever season-to-season attendance drop for a team that didn’t move to a new stadium, and Fivethirtyeight thinks maybe it’s because people are going to see Chargers games instead. I’d go with “honeymoon wore off fast after the team went 4-12,” but either way it ain’t pretty.
- The city of Boise is considering spending between $33 million and $45 million on a minor-league baseball stadium for the Class A Boise Hawks that could also host soccer and it’d have other private development around it and generate “$1 billion worth of investment,” according to a study by Convention, Sports, & Leisure, which somehow keeps getting hired to study these things. No word yet on Boise seeking an MLS team to play there, but you just know that’s coming.
- Nashville Mayor Megan Barry is set to announce Monday a plan for an MLS stadium that she says relies on “private-public” financing, because “public-private” puts too much emphasis on the public part, and she doesn’t want you thinking about that, even though she hasn’t released any actual details yet of how much the public would be on the hook for. This isn’t going to make the Deadspin writers any happier, Mayor Barry.
- As promised, the New York Islanders and NYC F.C. both submitted bids yesterday for land near Belmont Park that they’d like to build an arena on, though neither the teams nor the state Empire State Development Corporation that solicited the bids would provide any details. (I asked.) NYC F.C. is also still looking at sites in Queens and the Bronx, and Nassau County also wants the Belmont site for that Amazon headquarters that every local government in the nation thinks it’s going to land, though given Chris Christie has started the bidding at $5 billion in tax breaks, suddenly a hockey arena or soccer stadium sounds fiscally responsible by comparison.
- Here’s an article on how Moline, Illinois changing the name of its arena from the iWireless Center to the TaxSlayer Center will help the city get big-name concerts because the new name “makes it sound a little more big time.” You’re welcome.
NFL fever is still at an ice-cold pitch in Los Angeles, where both the Rams and Chargers saw tons of empty seats yesterday. Take it away, sports Twitter:
As with last week, the empty seats are scattered throughout the stadiums, so this looks like a case of people buying tickets and then not using them, either because they’re trying to get on a season-ticket waitlist for when the teams’ new stadium opens in 2020, or because tickets are cheap enough that they figure they’ll buy a season strip and only go when there’s a good opponent and there’s nothing good on TV that day. (Or maybe just when a team they actually care about comes to town: The hottest Chargers ticket on StubHub is vs. the Oakland Raiders.) Also, by one estimate half the maybe 20,000 fans if you’re being generous at yesterday’s Chargers-Miami Dolphins game were rooting for the Dolphins, which apparently was a problem at times in San Diego, too, but still.
None of this is a crisis just yet: It can take a while to build a fan base for a relocated team, and obviously the big push is for fans to go see the teams at their new stadium in three years. Still, when you’re trying to charge record seat-license prices, you really want to see pent-up excitement about your team, and that’s not exactly what’s going on here. There’s been talk for years that L.A. football fans have been happy just to watch the best games of the week on TV without having a home rooting attachment; if so, the no-shows could be a sign that it’s going to be tough to build actual fan bases for the Rams and Chargers, beyond just having games be a thing people just want to go to when their actual favorite team from somewhere else shows up. More data points are needed, so let’s keep an eye on this throughout the season.
I decided not to make fun of the Los Angeles Rams for reports of low attendance at their opening game of their second season back in L.A. on Sunday, because they’re playing at the L.A. Coliseum, and also they’re still the Rams. But with photographic evidence, it’s really hard not to point and laugh, at least a little:
Okay, so maybe fans are just waiting to get a chance to see the Rams in their shiny new space stadium in 2020, by which point maybe the team will also be able to win more than four games in a season. (Assuming football hasn’t been banned as a health hazard by then, anyway.) Still, attendance was pretty bad last year too, so unless L.A. fans are more into seeing a fancy roof than actual football — assuming what the Rams play qualifies as actual football — this does not bode super well for the team’s plans to charge the highest price for seat licenses in recorded history.
The one interesting thing I would note is that, like last year, the empty seats are mostly distributed pretty evenly around the stadium, which would indicate fans who bought tickets but then didn’t feel like actually showing up to use them. (Tickets going unclaimed for as low as $6 on the secondary market would further support this theory.) So maybe there are lots of people in L.A. buying season tickets now with little intention of using them, but just hoping to be first in line for season tickets at the new place once it opens in another three years? If so, the Rams had better have a hell of a season in 2019 to ramp up the excitement, and/or consider backing off on those PSL prices some, because they’re going to have quite the sales drive required once it’s time to convince all those empty seats to become full ones in 2020.
It’s Friday again, so let’s go spanning the world:
- The Los Angeles Rams are considering charging a top personal seat license price of as much as $225,000, just for the right to then buy season tickets for $350-400 per game. This seems like a bit of a reach when the payoff is just that you get to watch Rams games, but I guess Stan Kroenke needs to try to recoup his $2 billion in stadium costs somehow — and at least if it all goes south, he’ll be the one on the hook, not taxpayers.
- Some Canadian bank bought the naming rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs arena away from some Canadian airline. Is this going to buy it valuable market exposure and name recognition that will justify the $40 million a year expense? Not on this blog!
- The LED lights at the Atlanta Falcons‘ new stadium make football look all weird.
- Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler says spending $30 million on an arena for a minor-league basketball team is a great idea that only “naysayers” don’t appreciate. “I think sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves and some of our urban areas we don’t believe that we are able to make things happen,” she says. If Mayor Tyler needs a reelection campaign theme song, I have a suggestion.
- “The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the Oakland Raiders‘ proposed stadium in Las Vegas would not be a hazard to aircraft.” Huzzah!
- Would-be St. Louis MLS owner Paul Edgerley says he’s still ready to pay $150 million for a franchise, and $100 million toward a stadium, as soon as someone comes up with the other $60 million in construction costs. Noted.
- Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has officially reinstated his plan to do $140 million of renovation work to the team’s arena, with Cuyahoga County paying for half the cost. ”This is corporate welfare at its worst,” said Steve Holecko of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, after his erstwhile coalition partners the Greater Cleveland Congregations withdrew petitions against the arena subsidy after getting a promise of two mental health crisis centers from the county. Holecko’s group doesn’t plan to mount another ballot challenge on their own, though, so construction work is set to begin later this month.
- Mikhail Prokhorov is ready to sell the Brooklyn Nets, but will hold onto the Barclays Center, after renegotiating the team’s lease so that it will pay less rent to the arena. This … does not seem like the smartest way of going about things, but maybe Prokhorov is figuring he’ll give up future rent revenue in exchange for a higher sale price now on the team? Or maybe he’s just not very smart.
Awright, new stadium rendering porn from the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers! And like all the cool media kids today, they’re pivoting to video:
That’s not all that different from the last renderings we saw, but has the advantage of zipping by really quickly and being set to music that sounds like a 1980s video game developer trying to emulate Grandmaster Flash. From this we can tell that the new Inglewood stadium will definitely contain people. and a latticework roof, and some kind of weirdly shaped scoreboard ring suspended over the field. You can get a better (sort of?) look at that last element in this tweeted still image:
And finally, here’s what the site looks like now, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Stay tuned for more exciting images! We have three years of this left to go, people, before anyone can see this with their own eyes, hopefully set to their own hip-hop-lite soundtrack.
Now that the new Los Angeles Rams and Chargers stadium has been delayed until 2020 thanks to rain, the NFL has moved the 2021 Super Bowl to Tampa and given the 2022 Super Bowl to L.A., because of a league rule that says stadiums can’t host Super Bowls in their first seasons, or because the league was afraid the stadium wouldn’t be ready by 2021, or because the rule is there because of fears stadiums won’t be ready on time or — wait, what the heck is this?
Somehow I’d missed this particular Inglewood stadium rendering, which makes it look kind of like a space-age tennis racket suspended on pillars over an open pit. It almost certainly won’t look much like this — for one thing, everything used to build it won’t be blazing white, and neither will all the surrounding buildings and parking lots — but that appears to be somebody’s best attempt to depict a translucent (?) roof with some kind of video boards suspended from it, and … you know what, we should probably just wait to see this thing. I get why it’s going to cost $2 billion now, though, even if I still don’t quite get why Stan Kroenke wants to spend that much.
And in today’s comedy news, the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers will be delayed a year in moving into their new stadium because it rained:
Historically heavy rainfall in Los Angeles has delayed the highly anticipated, $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, by a year.
The new facility, to be shared by the Rams and Chargers, will now open in 2020 instead of 2019, the teams said Thursday. In the meantime, the Rams will play at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an additional year and the Chargers will have one more season at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Color me marginally skeptical — stadium manager Dale Koger acknowledged that the original timetable was “very aggressive,” so this could just be a matter of realizing they weren’t going to be done on time and blaming it on the rain. But whatever; anything else hilarious about this? Like, how will this mess with any important plans that the teams will now have to put on hold?
Fourteen months ago, [Rams COO Kevin] Demoff told The Times, “Our focus has always been on introducing new uniforms the year we open a new stadium. That’s the opportune time to shape your brand.”…
But it might not happen until 2020.
“That’s a decision we’ll make in the coming months as we look at the uniforms,” Demoff said during a teleconference with a reporters. “But we will have the option of beginning a rebrand in 2019 or with the stadium in 2020.”
Man, there is nothing as funny as people unironically saying things like “shape your brand.” Still not quite as good as when a masked superhero does it, but I’ll just picture Demoff wearing a purple unitard, and it’s almost as good.
So this isn’t good: A subway line under construction in Los Angeles had planned to have trains cross Centinela Avenue in Inglewood at street level — but planners are now worried that this could cause too many traffic tie-ups with crowds headed to and from the new Rams stadium. So they’re instead looking at building a bridge to take trains over the road, which would cost $100-150 million. Also, building a bridge could delay the opening of the line, unless the county-owned Metro Rail builds temporary tracks or puts in a temporary shuttle bus to get past the bridge site, of which Los Angeles Magazine notes, “It’s hard to imagine the transit agency opening a rail line that requires a bus to travel from end-to-end.”
This is more than a little reminiscent of the Atlanta Braves bridge fiasco, which resulted when Cobb County approved the stadium before putting together a transportation plan. Whereas when Inglewood okayed the Rams stadium:
The vote adopts a new redevelopment plan without calling a public vote, effectively kick-starting construction and sidestepping lengthy environmental review of issues such as noise, traffic and air pollution.
You know, sometimes red tape is there for a reason. Just sayin’.
And speaking of data points for an arena arms race, now Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is reportedly interested in building a new arena adjacent to the Los Angeles Rams‘ new Inglewood stadium, because they want their own L.A. Live or something:
Representatives of Steve Ballmer and Stan Kroenke, two of the richest owners in professional sports, have had multiple discussions about the Clippers joining the Rams and Chargers in the sports and entertainment district Kroenke is building in Inglewood…
“It’s too soon to say it would be L.A. Live lite, but if an arena were to bring 200 nights a year, that’s a tremendous amount of foot traffic that would benefit all the ancillary properties,” said a person familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified in order to speak frankly about the situation.
To reiterate what I just wrote about a fifth arena in the New York City metro area: Building more arenas in an already well-served arena market doesn’t really make much sense, since you’re just squabbling over how to divide up the existing pie. (An L.A. Live Lite is only likely to get customers by drawing them off from the original L.A. Live district by the Staples Center, or maybe from other entertainment options elsewhere in the L.A. area.) And Ballmer making eyes at Inglewood could still very easily be a leverage tactic toward when his Staples lease is up for renewal in 2024. But then, this is after all how capitalism is supposed to work: Investors are so desperate to grab a slice of the market that they throw around whatever money it takes to enter the game, which ends up driving down windfall profits for everyone and benefiting consumers. It seldom works that way, sure, but it still can, on occasion, when corporations are more interested in fighting over the spoils than in colluding.
If there’s one thing that watching American capitalism has taught me, it’s that the likely outcome here is for one side to buy the other — Philip Anschutz couldn’t literally buy the Clippers since he already owns the Lakers, but some kind of Anschutz-Ballmer-Kroenke sports management consortium isn’t impossible, if you could get everyone’s egos out of the way. Now there’s a thought: The only thing stopping us from entering a complete monopolistic hellscape, now that the federal government has all but declared corporate consolidation a national priority, is the inability of the super-rich to get along. Strange days, indeed.