New York’s Empire State Development Corporation approved its draft environmental report on a new New York Islanders arena at Belmont Park, and it basically comes down to “yeah, traffic is already bad and it’s going to get worse, we’ll try to figure something out but don’t hold your breath.” The state will also provide a whole two Long Island Rail Road trains to take fans to and from games, which will require new switches to deal with the massive mess that is that train interchange, for which “it is also expected that [the arena developers] will contribute to LIRR and MTA funding,” which isn’t exactly the same as saying the developers will pay for it.
The National Parks Conservation Association was “shocked” to learn that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants to take 300 acres of federal parkland to use for a new Washington NFL team stadium. “I have talked to lower-level Park Service employees who are just as shocked as I am about this,” said the organization’s Chesapeake and Virginia programs director, Pam Goddard. “We are vehemently opposed.” Hogan has said that no public money would be used for the stadium plan, but public land and building out sewer and power lines into federal parkland, now that’s another story.
When it rains, it pours, and this week provided a deluge of stadium news:
Fox 10 Phoenix is reporting that Phoenix city officials and the owners of the Sunshave reached a “tentative deal” on splitting the cost of arena renovations, which would have gotten its own item here if anyone other than that one news outlet based on no named sources were reporting it. Also any deal would still require approval by the city council, so really this is just “Suns owners and lame-duck mayor of Phoenix have almost agreed on what to put in an arena renovations funding bill, but won’t tell us what it will be yet.” Meanwhile, lawsuits continue over Phoenix refusing to release any details of what the Suns are seeking in renovations or anything about the team’s finances.
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg still has only until December 31 to tell St. Petersburg if he wants to move out before 2027, while Hillsborough County is telling county commissioners there won’t be any news about a potential stadium in Tampa until after the new year. This means Sternberg will almost certainly have to negotiate an extension on his opt-out clause; one hopes that St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman will demand a bigger payoff this time in exchange for doing Sternberg a favor, but maybe Kriseman figures his city will benefit enough from getting the Rays out of their hair and getting to develop the Tropicana Field site that asking for cash on top of that would just be greedy.
The Oakland A’s owners say they’ll announce their preferred stadium site by the end of the year, to which former A’s exec Andy Dolich replied, “I have no doubt that the A’s will announce their site by the end of the year. They did so in 2006 for Cisco Field, in 2009 for Diridon Station, in 2011 for Victory Court, in 2013 for Coliseum City and in 2017 for Peralta College.” Ouch.
Part of the Milwaukee Brewers‘ retractable roof was making a weird clicking noise, but don’t worry, they’re fixing it, this totally won’t turn into a demand for taxpayers to build them a new roof, not when the stadium is only … 17 years old? Okay, it won’t turn into a demand this year, anyway. Probably.
In case you’re wondering what lease extension extortion money looks like on the minor-league level looks like, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies just got $5 million in state and city money for stadium upgrades in exchange for signing a new lease through 2026, which is less than major-league teams have gotten away with, but still pretty damn sweet if you’re the owner of a Double-A team.
A Las Vegas blogger has tweeted that the Rio hotel-casino could be demolished and replaced by a Major League Baseball stadium, so now everybody’s talking about Las Vegas getting an expansion team, along with Portland and Montreal and I forget who else. (San Antonio? Charlotte? Half of Mexico?) Just imagine how frenzied this would be if commissioner Rob Manfred were talking about expansion on a faster timetable than “in my lifetime,” or if he were older than 60 or suffering from a terminal illness or something.
Speaking of ticket taxes, a Nashville councilmember is proposing raising them at the new MLS stadium there and using the proceeds to help pay off the city’s share of construction costs. Nashville S.C. ownership is opposed, saying “this kind of after-the-fact tinkering would make the deal worse for soccer fans and set a bad precedent for the city,” neither of which is true (pssst sports teams already set prices as high as they can regardless of ticket taxes) but it’s totally what you’d expect them to say.
The projected cost of the Tokyo Olympics has now risen from $7.3 billion to $25 billion over the past five years .“It’s the most amazing thing that the Olympic games are the only type of megaproject to always exceed their budget,” Olympic finance expert Bent Flyvberg told the Associated Press. I would say that the fact that cities keep bidding for the Olympics despite this fact is even slightly more amazing, but they’re both pretty incredible.
The Oakland Raiders promised that their stadium project in Las Vegas would provide 18,700 construction jobs, but right now only about 650 workers are involved in construction at the site, and over its first year the project has employed the full-time equivalent of just 195 workers. Nevada really should have gotten that promise in writing.
The head of Mexico’s La Liga MX says that after the 2026 World Cup jointly hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, maybe the three nations’ pro soccer leagues will merge to form one mammoth soccer league. This isn’t a terrible idea on the face of it — Mexico has the soccer talent, the U.S. has the fan spending money, and Canada has, I guess, donuts — but as it would require MLS owners to share their league with a bunch of other team owners who didn’t pay the $150 million expansion fee, and probably accept some kind of tiered promotion/relegation system as well to avoid having a 50-team league, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
People who want an NBA franchise in Louisville say they’d consider building a new arena for it, despite Louisville already having two perfectly good basketball arenas, which is arguably even more crazy than the idea of Louisville getting an NBA franchise at all.
The Oakland City Council has authorized a multimillion-dollar antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and the Raiders over the team’s impending move to Las Vegas — legal action that Coliseum officials said could result in the team leaving Oakland at the end of the upcoming season.
Let’s start with the lawsuit: It’s apparently set to be filed by the city, but was prompted by Raiders fans, and would actually be litigated by outside law firms that will take a cut of the winnings, if there are any. It would be an antitrust suit, seeking as much as $500 million in damages, according to Oakland councilmember Noel Gallo — and yes, you’re not misremembering things, the last antitrust case involving the Raiders ended with the Supreme Court ruling that the team owner had a right to move them wherever he wanted, but presumably these lawyers have come up with a new argument. (Here’s a long essay in the East Bay Express that totally fails to explain what that new argument would be.)
The truly great part here, at least for a disinterested observer mostly rooting for chaotic hilarity, is that Raiders execs have reportedly told the operators of the Oakland Coliseum that they won’t renew their lease for next year if the lawsuit proceeds, which is the absolute best threat ever, since the only reason they’re still in Oakland in the first place is that they have absolutely nowhere else to go. They could play at UNLV’s 47-year-old Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas, but team owner Mark Davis has said he doesn’t want to do that. Or they could play in some other temporary home city with an existing stadium — San Diego? St. Louis? San Antonio? — and hope that enough curiosity seekers will come out to see games to make it worth their while.
It’s probably an idle threat — there’s plenty of time before next season for everybody to come to some agreement, or for the lawsuit to crash and burn — and given that the city and county would only lose a relatively piddly $3.7 million in rent from the Raiders if they left early, and that fans seem to be behind the lawsuit even if it might cost them a final lame-duck season, it’s not all that much of a risk for the public. And — say it all with me — watching this court case has got to be more entertaining than watching Raiders games.
The Raiders‘ future home in Las Vegas is well under way (if a bit blurry), but until now one piece of the stadium project — a plan for where Vegas Raiders fans will park — has been “we’ll figure that out later,” words that don’t have a great track record when it comes to stadium planning. Until yesterday, when the Raiders’ parking consultants proposed a multi-site solution for where to put all those cars:
2,375 parking spaces at the stadium
3,700 to 4,625 spaces at the Orleans Hotel & Casino
1,025 to 1,175 spaces at a former Southwest Gas facility on the northeast corner of Arville Street and Tropicana Avenue
2,000 to 2,500 spaces at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Arby Avenue
2,900 to 3,625 spaces at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Blue Diamond Road
For those of you without working expertise in Las Vegas geography (like me) and without the patience to Google-map all those sites (not like me, it turns out), that comes to a little bit of parking at the stadium, with most of the spots clustered around two intersections, one about a mile to the northwest of the stadium, and another about two miles to the south. Fans would then be bused from the parking lots to the game.
There are several questions that this plan raises — where you’re going to park the roughly 200 buses it would take to carry 20,000 people (assuming an average of two people per car) back to their cars immediately after the game is just one of them — but mostly it brings to mind this scenario: You are a Las Vegas Raiders fan, or just somebody visiting Las Vegas who decides to take in a game. You fire up Google or Waze or what have you, and it tells you how to get to the stadium. You drive there, and of course the lot is already full. You are directed to the overflow lot a mile away. You get there, after fighting through traffic with everybody else who is doing the same thing, only to be told that this lot is full, too — but there is more parking three miles back in the other direction. You get back in your car, head out into traffic again, and reconsider how badly you want to see a friggin’ Raiders game when there’s plenty of other stuff to do in Vegas.
Maybe this is an overly grim prognostication, but it certainly seems to be a concern, at the least. As is the fact that aside from the Orleans casino, the Raiders ownership doesn’t seem to have actually finalized deals with any of the owners of the lots that they want to use for parking. The stadium is supposed to open two years from now, so somebody had better get cracking.
Somebody has finally studied the actual economic impact of LeBron James on the Cleveland area, and far from the urban legend, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that overall GDP growth in the metro area has actually slowed since James returned from Miami. Now, that doesn’t mean that James is bad for the Cleveland economy — there are way bigger factors at work that affect GDP — but it does mean that at best, he didn’t really move the needle much on local earning. Can somebody please tell Drake now?
The Las Vegas Raidersannounced their PSL pricing, and it’s a whopping $20,000 to $75,000, more in line with what the San Francisco 49ers are charging than, say, the Atlanta Falcons or Minnesota Vikings. And there will be other seats with no PSLs attached, so if fans want to go to games, they can always opt for the no-down-payment option and just sit in the nosebleeds. I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before and it didn’t go well — oh, right.
The Arizona Coyotes have a new CEO, Ahron Cohen, so what does he have to say when asked about the team’s arena plans? “Really, the most important thing for us right now and what we’re focusing on is achieving our core goals. Those are building hockey fandom in Arizona, building a competitive team on the ice, and positively impacting our community. Ultimately, we have to figure out our long-term arena solution. But that problem is solved by achieving those three goals I laid out.” Put that into Google translate, select Corporate Bureaucrat to English, and we get, let’s see: “Hell if I know.” Glad to see some things are consistent with the Coyotes!
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 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.)
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.