Friday roundup: Team owners rework tax bills and leases, Twins CEO claims team is winning (?) thanks to new stadium, and other privileges of the very rich

Tons more stadium and arena news to get to this week, so let’s dive right in without preamble:

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Friday roundup: Clippers broke public meetings law, Vegas seeks MLS team, Buccaneers used bookkeeping tricks to try to get oil-spill money

Any week with a new/old Superchunk album is a good one! Please listen while reading this week’s roundup of leftover stadium and arena news:

  • The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has determined that Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer violated open meetings laws by hiding information about the team’s proposed new Inglewood arena’s location and scope when formally proposing it in 2017, even replacing the name “Clippers” with “Murphy’s Bowl LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company (Developer).” Unfortunately, the DA’s office noted, it’s too late to do anything about this because the violation wasn’t reported in time, but don’t do it again, I guess? In related news, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he supports the team’s arena plan, even though Ballmer is being sued by New York Knicks owner James Dolan, who also owns the nearby Forum and doesn’t want the competition, and who was apparently the main reason for all that secrecy on the part of Ballmer. It’s all enough to make you feel sympathetic to Dolan, until you remember that he is an awful person.
  • Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has announced she’s looking at building an MLS stadium in her city, because “We have not become the pariah anymore, and there is no end to this. It’s so exciting,” which would almost make sense if MLS had previously steered clear of Vegas because of gambling or something and also if MLS were currently about to put a franchise in Vegas, neither of which is the case. The stadium, if it’s ever built, would go on the site of Cashman Field, where the USL Championship Las Vegas Lights FC currently play, and would be paid for by some method that the developers “would have to present” to the city council, according to the mayor’s office. It’s so exciting!
  • The owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tried to get $19.5 million in settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster on the grounds that the team lost revenue that summer compared to the following summer when it was banking extra NFL checks that the league was stockpiling in advance of a player lockout. Amazingly, that’s not what got the claim rejected — it was only nixed when it turned out the Bucs hadn’t even stockpiled that revenue at the time, but rather did so retroactively on its books when it realized it could use it as a way to try to get oil spill settlement cash. It’s such a fine line between mail fraud and clever.
  • Inter Miami owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas have agreed to pay a youth golf program $3 million to clear out of the way of their proposed Melreese soccer stadium and move, you know, somewhere else, so long as it’s not on their lawn. This is not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things, but it is worth noting that Beckham and Mas are sinking a whole lot of money into this stadium and a temporary stadium until this one is ready and the old new stadium site that they say they’re not building a stadium on anymore; this can either be seen as a laudable commitment to private funding or a dubious business investment or, hell, why not both?
  • The Portland Diamond Project group has gotten a six-month extension on its deadline to decide whether to build a baseball stadium at the Terminal 2 site, and is paying only $225,000, instead of the $500,000 it was originally supposed to be charged. That seems like bad negotiating by the Port of Portland when they had the wannabe team owners over a barrel, but I guess $225,000 just for a six-month option on a site that probably won’t work anyway for a team that probably won’t exist anytime soon is nothing to turn up your nose at.
  • When the headline reads “New A’s stadium could generate up to $7.3 billion, team-funded study predicts,” do I even need to explain that it’s nonsense? If you want a general primer on why “economic impact” numbers don’t mean much of anything, though, I think I addressed that pretty well in this article.
  • The Los Angeles Rams‘ new stadium is reportedly set to get $20 million in naming rights payments for 20 years from a company that lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year, which is surely not going to result in a repeat of the Enron Field fiasco.
  • A reporter at the Boston Bruins‘ 24-year-old home arena was startled by a rat on live TV. Clearly it’s time to tear it down and build a new one.
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Boston teens discover that Bruins owner stiffed city on recreational facilities for 24 years

A group of Boston teenagers trying to find funding for a new community hockey rink and stumbling upon a 24-year-old plot by the owners of the local sports arena to scam city recreational facilities out of money sounds like the best YA novel ever — and it is. Or would be, if not for the fact that it all totally happened:

The discovery was the result of a painstaking search that involved a civics lesson in legislative sausage-making, the close eye of a neighborhood activist, and a bit of detective work by several determined teenagers…

[In 1993,] Jeremy M. Jacobs, the developer of the new Boston Garden, ultimately agreed to hold three charity events a year, with net proceeds going to the Metropolitan District Commission, which maintained the city’s recreational facilities, such as pools and skating rinks…

[Michael Reiskind, a longtime member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council,] shared his recollections with Ken Tangvik, director of organizing and engagement for the Hyde Square Task Force, during an April meeting on the development site…

Tangvik, who said the tip “was a gift,” then deployed his youth organizers to look up the Massachusetts laws enacted in 1993, and they found, “An act furthering the establishment of a multi-purpose arena and transportation center.” One section of the law stated, “The new Boston Garden Corporation . . . shall administer . . . no less than three charitable events per year . . . and shall pay the net proceeds . . . to said Metropolitan District Commission.”

The students were astounded.

“Let’s just read this one more time,” [Lorrie] Pearson recalled thinking.

In short: For the last 24 years, Boston Garden (now named after some bank or something) has been supposed to be holding three charitable events a year, and giving the proceeds to city recreational facilities. Instead, it’s been holding, um, none. So that’d be a 72-charitable-event backlog, which the youth organizers are hoping they can use to convince the arena’s owners Delaware North (run by Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Bruins) to kick in some money toward a new community hockey rink in Hyde Square, something the neighborhood and surrounding poor communities have been without since two local ice rinks were closed because of disrepair in the ’90s.

Hopefully that will happen, but in the meantime: How the hell did a multi-million-dollar contractual obligation of the Bruins’ owner go unnoticed by everyone in city government for 24 years? If 17-year-old kids can read the legal language and figure it out, you’d think so could anyone at City Hall, no? If I’m at the Boston Globe, at least, I’d be calling every budget director for the last two decades and pointing out that they just got shown up by a bunch of meddling kids.

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Bruins to renovate Garden using actual own money their actual own selves

Not every team owner is insisting that they need public money to do renovations for their 1990s-era arenas. The owners of Boston’s TD Garden, who also own the Bruins, just announced $70 million in upgrades that they’ll be paying for out of their own pocket:

Among the ambitious upgrades: a relocation and expansion of the Bruins’ Proshop; an overhaul of the concourses on levels four and seven; and renovations of the Garden’s concessions and the Legends Club, the arena’s largest private hospitality space, which houses the Celtics’ Courtside club and is open to eligible Bruins and Celtics season-ticket holders.

“It’s our goal to really set the industry standard, the high-water mark, for fan experience,” Charlie Jacobs, principal for Delaware North Companies and the Bruins, told the Globe.

You can credit the difference between this and the situation with the Miami Heat et al. to the fact that Massachusetts isn’t as generous with sports subsidies as Florida, to the fact that it’d be laughable for the Bruins to threaten to leave Boston for another market, or just to Charlie Jacobs being a nice guy, if you want. But anyway, sports venue renovations can be done on the team’s dime. If you really needed any more evidence than this.

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