Friday roundup: Neo-Expos seek public land for stadium, Hawaii mulls new stadium to host nothing, D-Backs spend bupkis fixing supposedly crumbling stadium

So very, very much news:

  • Would-be Montreal Expos reviver Stephen Bronfman has reportedly settled on federally owned land in Peel Basin near downtown as a prospective stadium site once a franchise is obtained, through expansion or relocation. Mayor Valérie Plante called the idea “interesting”; other than that, there’s been no word of what Bronfman would pay for the land or how the stadium would be paid for or really anything involving money, so sure, “interesting” is a fine evaluation of this news.
  • Charles Allen, the D.C. councilmember whose district includes RFK Stadium, calls the site “a very wrong choice for an NFL stadium,” and instead would like to see housing and parks there. Mayor Muriel Bowser disagrees, so this is going to come down to a good old council fight. Too bad Marion Barry isn’t around anymore to make things interesting.
  • Hawaii is considering spending $350 million in public money on a new football stadium to replace Aloha Stadium because, according to state senator Glenn Wakai, “It’s kind of like driving a Datsun pickup truck that is just being run into the ground. At a certain point, time to get a new pickup truck.” Given that Aloha Stadium currently hosts nothing much at all other than University of Hawaii football, it’s more like spending $350 million to replace your pickup truck that just sits in the driveway with a new pickup truck, but far be it from me to interfere with Sen. Wakai’s attempts to bash Datsun for some reason.
  • Halifax is still considering whether to spend $120-140 million on a stadium for an expansion CFL team, maybe via the magic of tax increment financing; University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe points out that a TIF isn’t magic but just “makes the subsidy less transparent, less obvious that it indeed even is a subsidy” — but then, pulling the wool over the public’s eyes is a kind of magic, no?
  • The Oakland Raiders have a “very real” chance of playing 2019 at the Oakland Coliseum, according to … this Bleacher Report headline, but nothing in the actual story? What the hell, Bleacher Report?
  • Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick has claimed that the team’s stadium would need $8 million in upgrades over the winter, but has only spent $150,000. Which isn’t totally a gotcha — team execs say they’re conserving the stadium maintenance fund to spend on future repairs — but it does poke a bit of a hole in their argument that the stadium is in such bad shape that MLB could order the Diamondbacks to leave Arizona.
  • Austin residents will get to vote in November on whether the city can give public land to a pro sports team owner without a public vote, but it’ll probably be too late to affect the deal to do that for Austin F.C. owner Anthony Precourt. It’ll come in handy next time Austin is in the market for a pro sports team, I guess, though then the owner will probably just figure out a different way to ask for subsidies. “Better late than never” doesn’t work that well when it comes to democracy.
  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s “not sure that there’s much space for public consultation” on a redevelopment project to include a Flames arena, though he added that “it would be very interesting to hear from the public on what they think the right amount of public participation in this should be, and certainly there will be an opportunity for the public to have their voices heard but it might not happen until there’s something on the table.” It’s hard to tell whether that’s a justification or an apology — and keep in mind that Nenshi was deliberately shut out of the committee negotiating any deal — but there you are.
  • MLS commissioner Don Garber just got a five-year extension, and — quelle coincidence! — the league is now talking about expanding to 32 teams by 2026. Whether this is really a Ponzi-esque attempt to paper over weak financials with a constant influx of expansion fees won’t be entirely clear until the expansion finally stops and we see how the money looks then, but one thing is increasingly clear: It’s kind of crazy to throw stadium money around in hopes of landing an MLS franchise when it’s increasingly clear every reasonably large city in the U.S. is going to get one sooner or later.
  • And finally, Amazon pulled out of its $3 billion tax break deal with New York yesterday, and it sounds like it’s because its execs were tired of taking a PR beating around the company’s anti-union stance and contracting for ICE. Some New Yorkers are celebrating victory, others are retreating into the Casino Night Fallacy, and as always, The Onion has the final word.

Report: Maybe Raiders can play 2019 in (rolls dice, looks at chart) Birmingham and Tucson?

Oh, man, do I want to believe this latest rumor about where the Oakland Raiders will play in 2019:

And that’s it! Burger is a “3x Emmy-nominated Sports Anchor/Reporter at (NBC),” Parker is a Birmingham city councilmember, and “an effort” just means that somebody is proposing it, so really, there is neither smoke nor fire here, at least not yet. Playing in college stadiums in two smallish non-NFL cities separated by 1600 miles while turning up your nose at similar options either in your current home or your future one makes zero sense, but it does make sense for Mark Davis to be shaking as many trees as possible as the date to set an NFL schedule looms, so why not? Though personally my money’s on (fires up GeoGuessr) … a dirt road just outside Chistopol, Tatarstan? Don’t say it couldn’t happen!

Friday roundup: Suns referendum campaign fails, Panthers owner floats roof, Inter Miami and Raiders both still need temporary homes

The stadium news does not care if I am having a busy week, it just keeps happening! And I am, as always, here to catch it in a bucket and dump it out for you:

Raiders not playing 2019 in Giants’ stadium, back to drawing board

So barely 24 hours after news broke that the Oakland Raiders might be looking to play the 2019 season at the San Francisco Giants‘ home park, this happened:

San Francisco Mayor London Breed [joined] KTVU on Tuesday to explain why she’s opposed to the Raiders using San Francisco as a temporary home.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Oakland Raiders should play in Oakland,” Breed said. “In San Francisco, we have a number of challenges that we need to address with the Warriors coming to the new Chase Arena, the housing –1,400 units — that’s going to break ground in that area, our transportation system, our ferry landing. We have a number of things for years that we’ve been working to prepare for, and we don’t need another layer to add to what we already have in terms of an area that’s really congested, filled with construction, and will host a number of concerts and games for both basketball and baseball over the coming months.”

And then, arguably even more importantly, this happened:

What the hell exactly happened here? Either Raiders owner Mark Davis jumped the gun by opening talks with the Giants owners before checking in on whether Mayor Breed and the 49ers owners would be okay with NFL games at the Giants’ ballpark, or Raj Mathai jumped the gun by reporting that the move was a done deal, or both. Either way, it’s an important lesson that “talks” don’t mean much until you have the approval of everyone necessary, and a lot can still go wrong until you do.

If Rapoport is correct and it’s really the Oakland Coliseum or the 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium for the Raiders, man oh man is Davis between a rock and a hard place: The 49ers will almost certainly want to charge him through the nose to share their digs after cutting off all other options, and Davis is desperate not to give Oakland the time of day after officials there sued him for announcing he was moving the team to Las Vegas. And the clock is ticking: The NFL usually likes to release its schedule no later than April. It looks like the Raiders owner is going to have to pay dearly in either cash or dignity or both in order to find a place to play next season — maybe at least some of that $750 million check from Nevada taxpayers will go to a better cause than burning barrels of fossil fuels in order to get a haircut.

Raiders to play 2019 in Giants’ stadium, maybe, possibly, not sure yet

I’m honestly kind of tired of reading and reporting rumors about where the Oakland Raiders will play in 2019, but this one seems like it has at least a little more legs, so what the hell:

Raj Mathai is the news anchor (and former sports anchor) for NBC’s Bay Area station, so he may well have some sources. And the Associated Press added that it had heard talks between the Raiders and San Francisco Giants owners are ongoing, so sure, maybe. Or maybe they’re just toying with the Raiders in order to get their stadium’s new corporate name lots of mentions, a cause which I will not be helping with, not even with a link!

Meanwhile, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Haney, one of the elected officials who’d previously said they’d try to block a Raiders temporary move to S.F. in solidarity with their Oakland elected-official siblings, has remarked that “there’s a lot to figure out” about any Raiders residency, though it’s still not clear how much say San Francisco had over the Giants owners’ use of their privately owned and operated stadium. More news if the rumors pan out!

Friday roundup: What time is the Super Bowl article rush going to be over?

It’s too cold to type an intro! I miss the Earth before we broke it. But anyway:

Friday roundup: Vikings get $6m in upgrades for two-year-old stadium, Sacramento finds rich guy to give soccer money to, CSL screws up yet another stadium study

No time to dawdle today, I got magnets to mail, so let’s get right down to it:

  • The Minnesota Vikings‘ two-years-and-change-old stadium is getting $6 million in renovations, including new turf, and taxpayers will foot half the bill, because of course they will.
  • Billionaire Ron Burkle is becoming the majority owner of the USL Sacramento Republic, so now Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants to give the team “tens of millions of dollars” in infrastructure and development rights and free ad signage so that he can build an MLS stadium. “The richer you are, the more money we give you” is the strangest sort of socialism, but here we are, apparently.
  • Concord, an East Bay suburb until now best known as “where the BART yellow line terminated until they extended it,” is considering building an 18,000-seat USL stadium. No word yet on how much it’ll cost or how much the city will chip in, but they probably first need to wait to see how rich the team’s owner is.
  • Not everyone in Allen, Texas wants to live across the street from a cricket stadium, go figure.
  • Everybody’s favorite dysfunctional economic consultants Convention, Sports & Leisure have done it again, determining that Montreal would be a mid-level MLB market without bothering to take into account the difference between Canadian and American dollars. (One the exchange rate is factored in, Montreal’s median income falls to second-worst in MLB, ahead of only Cleveland.) CSL explained in a statement to La Presse that it wanted to show “the relative purchasing power” of Montrealers, and anyway they explained it in a footnote, so quit your yapping.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers are going to change the name of their stadium from one corporate sponsor to another, and boy, are fans mad. Guys, you know you are free to call it whatever you want, right? Even something that isn’t named for a corporation that paid money for the privilege!
  • Local officials in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. are still working on an interstate compact to agree not to spend public money on a stadium for Dan Snyder’s Washington NFL team, though passage still seems unlikely at best, and the history of these things working out effectively isn’t great. Maybe it’ll get a boost now that team execs have revealed that the stadium design won’t include a surfboard moat after all. Nobody respects the vaportecture anymore.
  • The libertarian Goldwater Institute is suing to force the release of a secret Phoenix Suns arena study paid for by the team and conducted by sports architects HOK, but currently kept under lock and key by the city. (Literally: The study reportedly is kept in locked offices and is only allowed to be accessed by a “very limited number” of people. Also, a citizen group is trying to force a public referendum on the recently approved Suns arena subsidy, though courts have generally not been too keen on allowing those to apply retroactively to deals that already went through. And also also, one of the two councilmembers who voted against the Suns subsidy thinks the city could have cut a better deal. Odds on any of this hindsight amounting to anything: really slim, but maybe it can help inform the next city to face one of these renovation shakedowns, if anyone on other city councils reading out-of-town news or this site and ultimately cares, which, yeah.
  • Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke signed agreements to cover the NFL’s legal costs in any lawsuit over those teams’ relocations, and they’re both being sued now (by Oakland and St. Louis respectively), and NFL lawyers are really pricey. Kroenke is reportedly considering suing the league over this, which I am all for as the most chaotically entertaining option here.
  • Wilmington, Delaware is being revitalized by the arrival of a new minor-league basketball team, so make your vacation plans now! Come for the basketball, stay for the trees and old cars! Synergy!

Friday roundup: Fact-checking Suns arena impact claims, the hidden cost of hosting the NCAA Final Four, and everybody gets a soccer team!

Thanks to everyone who became a Field of Schemes supporter this week in order to get a pair of my goofy refrigerator magnets! If you want to hop on the magnet train, you can still do so now, or you can first stop and read the rest of the news of a wacky week in stadium and arena developments:

  • The Arizona Republic has been full of both articles and op-eds this week asserting that giving $168 million to the Phoenix Suns for arena renovations is a good thing (sample reasoning: “The arena is old and needs updated. The Suns are young and need direction.”), but then it also ran an excellent fact-check that concluded that claims of the arena having a significant impact on the city’s economy are “mostly false,” citing the umpteen economic studies showing exactly that (sample conclusion, from Temple economist Michael Leeds: “A baseball team has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store”). On balance, good enough work that I hope the Republic can avoid being bought by an evil hedge fund that is trying to buy up newspapers and strip-mine them for any assets; what would really be nice would be if they can be bought by someone who can afford copy editors (“is old and needs updated”?), but I know it’s 2019 and we can’t have everything.
  • Where the Oakland Raiders are rumored to be playing the 2019 season this week: San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Oakland. These are all disappointingly old ideas — am I going to have to be the one to suggest Rio de Janeiro?
  • And speaking of me, I wrote a long essay for Deadspin this week on how changes in baseball economic structure are incentivizing owners to cut player salaries without illegally colluding to do so. This is at best tangential to the stadium business, except inasmuch as it’s about “how sports team owners make their money and what affects their profits,” so it’s good to know even if you don’t especially care about who signs Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
  • The president of the USL wants to expand the soccer league’s two tiers to 80 teams total, which is getting awfully close to the ABA’s “bring a check and you can have a team” model.
  • The new Austin F.C. MLS team was approved to start play in 2021, and celebrated by proposing a chant to memorialize the city council vote that approved its stadium funding: “7-Fooour, 7-Fooour/It’s not the score, it was the vote/That got us all our brand new home.” I am not making this up. (If I were making this up, I would at least try to get it to rhyme.)
  • Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno signed a one-year lease extension on the team’s stadium through 2020, which is disappointing in that I really thought the city should have used this leverage to demand a longer-term lease extension (what’s Moreno going to do otherwise, go play in Rio de Janeiro?). But Craig Calcaterra’s summary of the situation (sample description: this will give time to resolve “a long-term solution for what, at least from the Angels’ perspective, is a stadium problem”) is so on point and such a good model for how to report stadium controversies fairly and accurately that I’m not in the mood to complain.
  • Hosting the NCAA Final Four will cost Minnesota $10 million, because there are lots of curtains to be hung and temporary seating to be put in place, and the NCAA sure as hell isn’t going to pay for it. But Minnesota will surely earn it back in new tax revenues, because economic studies show … oh wait.
  • Some billionaire in St. Louis thinks the city should have an NBA team, and some writer for something called the St. Louis American thinks the city should try to steal the New Orleans Pelicans. Now let us never speak of this again.

Raiders still moving everywhere and nowhere for 2019 season

This just in: The Oakland Raiders might move to San Diego for the 2019 season!

The Raiders have reached out and are said to be in discussions with the San Diego mayor’s office about the possibility of calling San Diego home for the 2019 season. This according to Dan Sileo of 97.3 The Fan in San Diego.

“I got this email last night,” said Sileo, noting it was from a somewhat well known San Diego attorney who he would not name. He then read the email aloud. ‘I wanted to let you to know off the record here . . . that I learned tonight (this was last night) that there have been discussions between the Raiders playing next season in San Diego with both the Mayor’s office and management of the Raiders.’”

No, no, wait, this just in: The Oakland Raiders might move to Tucson, Arizona for the 2019 season!

Tucson attorney Ali Farhand hopes to make a pitch to the NFL team to consider playing their 2019 home games at Arizona Stadium…

According to Farhang, he and University of Arizona president, Robert Robbins have reached out to the Raiders to discuss the possibility of relocating the franchise to the Sonoran desert.

Listen, guys: Just because two groups are “discussing” something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It’s like hot stove baseball rumors: Just because your team took a meeting with some free agent doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to sign him — it could mean they’re just kicking the tires. Likewise, it seems pretty likely that Raiders execs are meeting with anyone and everyone who has a stadium for rent this fall, if only to keep their options open.

That said, the Raiders presumably do have to play somewhere in 2019, so it’ll have to be either Oakland or Santa Clara or San Diego or Las Vegas or San Antonio or Tucson or London or any of a dozen other places. They just don’t seem any closer to figuring it out than they were when they declared back in September that they were throwing a hissy fit over Oakland’s antitrust suit and refusing to return there for one more lame-duck season. Maybe instead of trying to guess where the Raiders should play, we should be trying to handicap when they’ll figure out where they’ll play. How does May sound like as an over-under? I think I’ll take May.

Raiders could move to London for 2019, according to man on TV doing impression of P.G. Wodehouse character

This just in: Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is in talks to play next season’s home games at Tottenham Hotspur‘s new stadium, according to multiple news stories all citing … aw man, the Daily Mail? Repeating claims from a single unsourced story is never good journalism, but doing so when the original story is in a paper actually banned by Wikipedia as unreliable is even worse.

And even worse than that, the original Daily Mail story actually does provide a source, but it’s an extremely problematic one:

NFL commentator and writer Ray Glazer revealed: ‘London is now an option for the Raiders. It is being discussed for them to play there next year. They are still trying to figure it out. The Raiders are discussing it. Do they play four home games, four away games, and back and forth again?

That’s actually Jay Glazer, who said that in on-air commentary on Fox Sports over a week ago, and provided no sources himself beyond just throwing London out as “a possibility as of now.” Then he signed off “Cheerio!” because that’s how you indicate to Americans that you are talking about England, or that you are Bertie Wooster.

This is a pretty alarming example of journalistic reification, wherein something gets reported once in the press (or in a British tabloid that is sort of shaped like the press) and then can freely be reported by headlines around the world because it was reported in the press, man. Not that the Raiders definitely won’t move to London — it’s a possibility, just like pretty much every other place on the planet — but it’s not a particularly new one or an exceptionally likely one. I mean, I could write that the Oakland Raiders could play next season at the Stade Olympique in Montreal, and it would be just as accurate and just as sourced. In fact, I just wrote it, and I’d put this site’s accuracy up against the Daily Mail’s any day. San Jose Mercury News, your task is clear.

UPDATE: OH GOD NOW IT’S BEEN UPGRADED TO A “REPORT”!