- A plot of private land that Portland baseball backers were eyeing for a stadium has been sold to another developer, but they could still sell or lease it for baseball. Portland is definitely at the forefront of not just handing land to the local sports team for whatever price it wants, though of course it doesn’t hurt that there isn’t an actual local sports team in question right now, just the idle thought of one someday.
- Tampa Bay Rays chief development officer Melanie Lenz says the team will decide in six to nine months whether an Ybor City stadium will work; I’d think they’d want to know who’s going to pay for it first, but maybe that’s what they need the six to nine months for: bribery. (I typed “lobbying,” right? Pretty sure I did, note to self to go back and check.)
- D.C. United is about to open its new stadium with the help of $183 million in public money, and has belatedly noticed that its TV camera angles will be all screwed up because the sun sets in the west. Who could have known something like that?
- A group of Inglewood residents is suing to block the proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena project, which is not surprising; more surprising is that they attempted to serve Mayor James Butts with lawsuit papers during Tuesday’s city council meeting, causing the council to abruptly call a halt to the meeting and run away.
- The Cincinnati Reds are asking for $88,000 in state tax breaks on bobbleheads, on the grounds that they’re included in the price of ticket packages and not being sold separately, even though the ticket package costs more specifically because it includes a bobblehead. I shoulda been a tax lawyer.
- The Philadelphia Phillies are asking for $40 million in hotel tax money from Pinellas County for a new renovations to their spring-training stadium in Clearwater, but the county has run out of hotel tax money because it already spent it on other projects, including the Rays’ Tropicana Field and a spring-training facility for the Toronto Blue Jays, along with a bunch of museums and the like. Opportunity cost!
- A Spectrum News Charlotte headline asks the question: “Does Charlotte need a domed stadium? City leaders are trying to figure it out.” I got an answer for you, Spectrum News Charlotte! (Also, Spectrum News Charlotte, the Atlanta Falcons‘ stadium didn’t really involve a “public investment” of only $200 million. Your friends across town the state at Fox 8 got it right, you might wanna talk to them.)
Friday roundup: Grading Mariners subsidies on a curve, Cobb County could close parks to pay off Braves debt, Beckham punts on another stadium deadline
Congratulations to the team that had never won the hockey thing winning it over the other team that had never won the hockey thing because it was a new team! And meanwhile:
- Today was going to be the last day for David Beckham’s Miami MLS ownership group to make a $901,500 down payment to the county for three acres of land that would be needed to build a new stadium in Overtown, which the owners say they don’t want to do anymore, maybe, but really who knows? But anyway, now it’s not the last day because Mayor Carlos Gimenez agreed to waive the deadline because of the ongoing lawsuit over the county’s no-bid sale of the land, and you’re already losing interest, aren’t you? All you want to know is where is this team going to play already, and who will pay for it how and when will it happen? and the answer to all of that remains ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
- Here’s an editorial from the Seattle Times saying that spending $177 million in public money on upgrades to the Mariners‘ stadium would be a good deal because it “supports smart investments in a beloved regional asset that will need more than basic maintenance as it ages beyond its teen years,” which doesn’t actually explain what “smart” or “need” mean or why the public should be responsible for any of this. But also, the stadium is projected to “generate $3.1 billion in economic output” over the next 20 years, which doesn’t explain what “economic output” means or how this was calculated and then it acknowledges that “those numbers are high” but c’mon, just give the Mariners the money anyway, they have a difficult teenager to deal with, don’t they deserve some help? There’s a helpful list of editorial board members at the end, in case you want to drive around Seattle and point and laugh at them.
- And speaking of the Mariners, here’s a long article in FanGraphs lauding them for “essentially guaranteeing that taxpayers will realize at least some profit from the initial stadium construction investment,” which is even too rose-colored for the Seattle Times editorial board. Seriously, if we’re going to be showering sports team owners for only asking for $177 million to upgrade their buildings that they got the public to pay more than $400 million for in the first place, I think maybe it’s time to give up on moral relativism altogether.
- The Oakland A’s may be getting one of those “get out of full environmental review free” cards that are all the rage in California, which is potentially problematic, but probably not as problematic as having no idea where a stadium will go or how much the A’s owners will pay for the land, so let’s cross one bridge at a time.
- Akron is demolishing part of the Rubber Bowl because it’s falling down and has been condemned, which is understandable, but it’s still worth taking a moment to remember that our nation once had sports venues called things like the Rubber Bowl.
- Now that the New York Islanders want to build a new arena next to Belmont Park, the New York Racing Association is proposing a renovating of the racetrack as well, on the apparent theory that hockey fans will wander over to watch horse racing, but only if the facility isn’t shabby compared to a shiny new arena. No indication yet how much the NYRA will be looking to spend or if any of it will be public money, but I’m sure that award-winning Newsday reporter Jim Baumbach will be on top of this soon. (That’s not sarcasm! For once.)
- Cobb County is looking at closing parks if it can’t close its budget deficit, which would be a lot smaller if not for all the tax money that’s going to pay for the new Atlanta Braves stadium.
- St. Petersburg has hired architects to figure out what to do with the Tropicana Field site if the Tampa Bay Rays move out, which is good due diligence but doesn’t actually mean the Rays are any closer to moving out.
- Rapid City, South Dakota residents voted overwhelmingly to spend $130 million on a new arena, three years after voting overwhelmingly not to spend $180 million on a new arena. I bet FanGraphs will think this is a sign of tremendous progress.
- And finally, enjoy this article about a Philadelphia Flyers executive who recalls being at his then 18-year-old arena and thinking, “I was kind of out, walking around the arena, and it just sort of started to feel tired.” Arenas got mid-life crises!
Friday roundup: Senators owner stalling on arena commitment, Jaguars owner wants to buy Wembley, and gondolas, forever gondolas
As late as Wednesday, I thought this was turning out to be a slow news week. Then the news made up for it in a hurry:
- The New York Islanders owners held a question-and-answer session for residents near their planned new arena on Tuesday, and when asked about how they plan to increase Long Island Railroad service to avoid tons of auto traffic, a state development official said, “We are in very active discussions with the LIRR — meeting with them once a week — and those talks are ramping up.” Hopefully they’re involving Dr. Strange in those discussions, because they badly need to find some new topological dimensions.
- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he plans to talk to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk about whether he actually plans to pursue the LeBreton Flats arena development he won rights to last year, after Melnyk called it “a huge project with tremendous risk” and said, “If it doesn’t look good here, it could look very, very nice somewhere else, but I’m not suggesting that right now” and “Something’s got to break somewhere and I mean a positive break.” Melnyk has made threats like this before, but you’d think now that he has an agreed sale price for the land he’d be happy; it sure sounds like he’s angling for some additional public subsidies now that he has his mitts on the land, which you can’t really blame him for, since Watson opened the door to that already. Come on, mayor, haven’t you learned yet not to get the can opener out when the cat is around?
- Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the group started by the Rays to push for business support for a new stadium, is signing up plenty of members, but DRaysBay notes that “the real test of commitment will come when businesses are asked to make clearer financial commitments to a stadium plan.” Yeah, no duh. (The subhead here, “Business leaders line up behind stadium plan, but financing questions linger,” is also a masterpiece of understatement.)
- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says that the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Rogers Centre “needs an update to make it as economically viable as possible,” noting that other stadiums “have millennial areas, things like that that have been built and become popular more recently.” So, like, an Instagram parlor?
- Here’s a story about how 25 years ago the NHL handed Norman Green the rights to move the Minnesota North Stars to any open market as consolation for putting an expansion team in Anaheim, where he’d wanted to move, and he ended up going to Dallas. Also it has Roger Staubach in the headline for some reason.
- And here’s a story about how 50 years ago NHL expansion inadvertently kicked off the rise of arena rock, which is probably overstated but it has links to vintage Cream videos in it, if you like that sort of thing.
- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is in talks with the Football Association to buy London’s Wembley Stadium for £600 million, which is certain to raise eyebrows about the possibility of the Jags moving to London, but is probably for right now more about Fulham F.C., which Khan also owns, being about to get promoted to the Premier League and wanting a bigger place to play. Khan also said, “I think it needs investment and updating. Compared to American stadiums the video boards are something that need to be looked at. The lounges are a little bit dated.” The current Wembley Stadium was built in 2007.
- The son of former disgraced Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wants to build a gondola to take fans from Union Station to Dodger Stadium to avoid traffic. “It’s not actually crazy,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted on Thursday, which, given that this is a city considering allowing Elon Musk to build a network of tunnels to whisk residents about via some unknown technology, maybe we should take that with a grain of salt.
- San Diego State says its stadium plans could eventually be expanded to fit an NFL team, for a mere additional $750-$850 million. Most San Diegans responding to an internet poll (which means some San Diegans, some non-San Diegans, and some dogs) don’t think they’re getting an NFL team anytime soon, anyway.
- The Port of Oakland has approved giving the Oakland A’s owners exclusive negotiating rights to develop Howard Terminal, which now gives the A’s exclusive rights to two possible stadium sites. As DRaysBay would say, financing questions linger.
- NBA commissioner Adam Silver has toured the new Milwaukee Bucks arena and says it has “unique sight lines.” Hopefully he means that in a good way, though I’m still wondering about that “sky mezzanine level.”
Friday roundup: Marlins claim British residency, video football with real humans, and the White Sox stadium that never was
Busy (minor) news week! And away we go…
- Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins ownership group, facing a lawsuit by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County over the team stiffing the public on the share of sale proceeds they were promised, are trying to stave it off by claiming that (deep breath) because one of the owners of an umbrella company of an umbrella company of the umbrella company that owns the Marlins is a business incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, the case should be arbitrated by a federal judge who handles international trade issues. Maybe the Marlins should quit trying to sell tickets to baseball games and sell tickets to the court proceedings instead.
- Tampa Bay Rays chief development officer Melanie Lenz, in response to concerns that a big-ass baseball stadium wouldn’t fit into the Ybor City historic district that it would be on the border of, said that “we expect to build a next-generation, neighborhood ballpark that fits within the fabric of the Ybor City community,” though she didn’t give any details. That’s vague enough to be reassuring without actually promising anything concrete, but it’s worth making a note of just in case the historic district ends up becoming a stumbling block in stadium talks, which, stranger things have happened.
- A guy wants to start a football league where fans vote on what plays to run via Twitch, and build an arena in Las Vegas for people to watch … the players? The voting? The Las Vegas Review-Journal article about it was a bit unclear, though it did say that the organizers want to “create the experience of playing a football video game with real people,” which isn’t creepy at all. It also reports that the league plans to use blockchain technology, which is how you know it’s probably a sham.
- Something called the Badger Herald, which I assume is a University of Wisconsin student paper but which I really hope is a newspaper targeted entirely at badgers, ran an article by a junior economics major arguing that the new Milwaukee Bucks arena will be a boon to the city because during the first few years “many will come from across the state to watch the Bucks play in this impressive new facility” and after that it will “continue giving the people of Milwaukee a reason to be optimistic.” The author also says that the arena was built after “the NBA gave the Bucks an ultimatum — either obtain a new arena, or the NBA would buy the Bucks and sell the franchise to another city,” which, uh, no, that’s not what happened at all.
- Here’s a really nice article for CBS Sports by my old Baseball Prospectus colleague Dayn Perry on the Chicago White Sox ballpark proposed by architect Philip Bess that never got built. Come for the cool pictures of spiders, stay for the extended explanation of why supporting columns that obstruct some views are a design feature that stadium architects never should have abandoned!
- The Los Angeles Rams are trying to pull a San Francisco 49ers, according to Deadspin, by making a run at a Super Bowl in the same year they’re selling personal seat licenses for their new stadium. More power to ’em, but prospective Rams PSL buyers, check how that worked out for 49ers fans before you hand over your credit card numbers, okay?
- The state of Connecticut has cut $100 million for Hartford arena renovations from the state budget, at least for now, so that it can use the money toward a $550 million bailout of the city of Hartford itself. Is that what they call a “no win-win situation“?
- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the New York Islanders need to move back to Long Island because Brooklyn’s Barclays Center “wasn’t built for hockey,” which he actually pointed out at the time they moved there, but did anybody listen?
- Alameda County is moving to sell its share of the Oakland Coliseum complex to the city of Oakland, which should make negotiations over what to do with the site slightly simpler, anyway.
- That Missouri governor who killed a proposed St. Louis MLS stadium subsidy, calling it “welfare for millionaires,” is now under pressure to resign after his former hairdresser claimed he groped her, slapped her, and coerced her into sex acts. Maybe we should just stop electing men to public office? Just a thought.
Suffolk County, New York, otherwise known as “the part of Long Island you can only get to by starting in New York City and driving more than an hour east,” yesterday approved a $1 billion development project in Ronkonkoma that will include a 17,500-seat sports arena. Or maybe an 8,000-seat sports arena. Apparently it’s all still up in the air, except that whatever it is, it’ll be great for the local economy, because economies:
“This is entirely tax positive. There is no residential here,” [lead engineer John] Cameron said. “This is an economic engine. A catalyst for growth.”
And if you can’t trust a construction engineer to make economic impact predictions, who can you trust?
Cameron said his company had been contacted by a sports league about using the arena, which could mean anything. (Note that he didn’t even say “pro” sports league, at least not as ABC7 reported it.) The Islanders, for their part, immediately dismissed any interest in playing in eastern Long Island. I suppose it’s conceivable that a Suffolk County arena could survive just on selling concert tickets to Long Islanders who don’t want to make the shlep into the city, or drive an hour in Long Island traffic to Nassau Coliseum — though lots of them work in the city anyway, so Nassau Coliseum would just be a stop on the way home. Building a sports arena makes more sense with a sports team to play in it, is all I’m saying, unless the developers plan to ditch or massively downsize the arena aspect down the road after using it to get Suffolk County’s attention, which is entirely possible.
Anyway, what the hell the developers’ business plan is should matter less to Long Island taxpayers if they’re not on the hook for any costs, and no subsidies have been reported thus far — though Long Island Business News does note that “it has yet to be determined whether the property and the additional 40 acres of compost site will be sold or ground-leased for the redevelopment effort.” But surely they’ve at least agreed on a price for the land, right? Right? Tune back in for any further reports that filter in from the far-flung province of eastern Long Island.
Hey, remember back when I did some quick-and-dirty estimates that showed that the New York Islanders were getting a hugely discounted deal from New York state on land for their new arena, and then Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report did his own estimates that came up with similar numbers? I finally got my Freedom of Information Law request back from the state-run Empire State Development agency, and as I write for this morning’s Village Voice, it turns out that the state never bothered to even do as much as Norman and I did to see if $40 million was a reasonable price for the land or a massive public giveaway:
In response to a Voice Freedom of Information Law request for any land value assessments provided by or to ESD for either the Islanders plot or any neighboring parcels, the agency has replied: “Please be advised ESD has no record responsive to your request.” In other words, Cuomo’s development agency has agreed to lease a prime piece of development land to a consortium of sports developers — and didn’t even check to see how much it could charge in rent for the public property.
The best way to guess at land value, according to property experts, at least when you’re looking at a unique parcel like a giant chunk of state-owned (so not subject to local zoning) racetrack parking lot land, is to look at per-square-foot prices for other vacant land in the vicinity. That method currently comes up with a value of New York state’s giveaway to the Islanders of between $74 million to $300 million — this at a time when the state is grappling with a $4 billion budget deficit. State senator Liz Krueger, who has annually introduced a bill to require improved reporting on all state corporate subsidies, told me she finds it “disturbing” that the state “would go into a 49-year lease with no evaluation of equivalent land lease or sale deals in the same area/county.” I asked ESD for a reason why the agency didn’t do any due diligence in this case, and didn’t hear back; if I get a belated response, I’ll update both here and at the Voice site.
Friday roundup: Tons of news, but you’ll forget it all once you see that Houston is spending public money on a pro rugby stadium
And in other news that doesn’t involve proposed Tampa Bay Rays stadium sites:
- United Airlines is spending $69 million on naming rights to the Los Angeles Coliseum in advance of the 2028 Olympics, but IOC rules prohibit corporate names during the Olympics, oops. Hope you enjoy the most expensive college-football naming rights deal in history, United!
- Hotel revenue fell 16% in San Diego last year after the Chargers left town, but went up 0.2% in St. Louis after the Rams left. I’m not honestly sure what if anything this means — you’d really have to look at hotel revenue on football weekends to do this right, and it doesn’t look like this study did — but feel free to speculate wildly.
- Did I mention the Yahoo Finance article yet that compares the Amazon HQ2 chase to the competition to host the Super Bowl, and cites me saying that while Amazon will bring more jobs, “that said, there’s almost no way it’s worth the kind of money that cities are talking about”? Well, now I have, enjoy!
- AL.com has recalculated the public costs of a proposed University of Alabama-Birmingham football stadium and come up with a total of $18.2 million a year — $10.7 million from a bunch of county taxes, $3.5 million from a new car rental tax surcharge, $1 million from other county funds, and $3 million from city funds — not the $15.7 million I had previously reported. UAB and a naming rights sponsor and other private contributors, meanwhile, would only put in $4 million a year, and only for the first ten years. Out of his goddamn mind, I tell you.
- Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report filed a Freedom of Information Law request to see the competing bids for the Belmont Park site that eventually got awarded to the New York Islanders, and was shot down on the grounds that it would “impair present or imminent contract awards.” Wait, wasn’t the contract already awarded? Will it be okay to ask again once it’s too late to do anything about it?
- The WNBA’s Chicago Sky are moving to the new DePaul basketball arena that the city of Chicago helped pay for, which I guess is marginally good for Chicago in that it gets to steal a tiny sliver of economic activity from Rosemont, screw those guys, right? (Actually, Rosemont is apparently a gated community, so maybe screw those guys.)
- A New Orleans Pelicans game was delayed because the arena roof leaked. No one is demanding that a new arena be built just yet that I’ve heard, but given that the current one is 19 whole years old, it’s gotta to be a matter of time, even if this one does have a fire fountain.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates are threatening to sue the city-county sports authority over who’ll pay how much for $10 million in improvements to their stadium, because apparently the people who write these stadium leases are idiots.
- If you enjoy this site but were thinking, “Wouldn’t this be better as a YouTube video with lots of animated charts?”, Vox has got you covered.
- The Houston city council has approved spending $3.2 million in tax dollars on a pro rugby stadium for the Houston SaberCats, who are a pro rugby team that is going to play in a pro rugby league, which councilmember Jack Christie calls “a beautiful example of public-private partnerships that we ought to look at in the future, because as far as I have heard, there’s not been one city tax dollar used for this development.” I’m done. Have a good weekend.
Islanders to split games between Brooklyn and Nassau while awaiting Belmont Park arena — which may have a train problem
The New York Islanders made it official yesterday: Until their new Belmont Park arena is ready in 2021-ish, they’ll split time between Brooklyn and Nassau County, with 12 home games (out of 41) at the Nassau Coliseum next season and a total of 48 (out of 82) over the following two seasons. (Though those numbers could also include a few exhibition games; the announcement wasn’t super clear.)
If you’re wondering why the Islanders will still play any games in Brooklyn at all when the team owners hate the place and the feeling is mutual, team owner Jon Ledecky spelled that out:
“To be a max cap salary team you have to maximize revenue,” he said. “The Coliseum amenities are not as good as Barclays. There are over 100 suites at Barclays and less than a dozen here. Nassau Coliseum does not have an optimal situation at this point.”
In other words, we can make more money in Brooklyn, even if our fans hate it and we do too. But at least by splitting the difference Ledecky and his partners can avoid alienating fans further while waiting for that new arena to open.
And, oh yeah, about that new arena: The Village Voice’s Aaron Gordon has been looking at the possibilities for running Long Island Railroad trains there on a regular basis, as Ledecky is insisting the state of New York pay for, and discovered that this may run up against the bounds of the physical universe.
Currently, [Center for Transportation Research at University of Tennessee, Knoxville director David] Clarke says, there are no switches east of Belmont that allow trains to navigate the tracks in such a way that allow them to get to Belmont. The only option using existing infrastructure would be, as Clarke put it, to “zigzag”: overshoot the Y connection by a few hundred feet and then reverse across the switches to get to the Belmont spur. It would be like a three-point turn in the middle of a highway, but for a train.
And it gets worse: The LIRR could install new switches to the east of Belmont Park to avoid this zigzag solution, but thanks to a bridge over a highway immediately adjacent to the racetrack, this would require running westbound trains on eastbound tracks for a long stretch. During rush hour.
Then there’s the problem that even if a defunct rail spur were activated to get fans from Long Island to Belmont, the layout of the tracks would mean most of them would have to switch trains at a little-used station that would need massive upgrades to handle the surge of passengers, and … you know, just read the whole thing, it’s worth it. Suffice to say that when the MTA says it can’t begin to guess how much this will end up costing taxpayers, it probably has good reasons to.
Friday roundup: Islanders close to Nassau deal, Olympic stadium to be razed after four uses, and it’s rethink your MLS stadium site week!
And in other stadium and arena news this week:
- The New York Islanders are reportedly close to a deal to play about half their regular-season home games at Nassau Coliseum until their new arena at Belmont Park is ready in 2021. (The rest would still be played in Brooklyn, I guess? Same arena owners, so a lease should be manageable.) In less-good news for the team, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Joe Lhota has looked at the same maps that Aaron Gordon did for the Village Voice and realized, hey, those train tracks only allow you to get to Belmont from the west, so “there’s no way going from where most Long Islanders would take [it] if they were taking the Long Island Rail Road as opposed to driving to go see the Islanders.” If it turns out that fixing this would require prohibitively expensive Klein bottle technology, can New York state still back out of the deal?
- Austin could be reconsidering whether to let the owner of the Columbus Crew build a soccer stadium on public parkland, now that they’ve realized everyone hates the idea of building a soccer stadium on public parkland.
- FC Cincinnati‘s owners have signed an option to buy vacant land from the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority in the city’s West End, but team president Jeff Berding has promised residents concerned about the impact of a new stadium that it would “lead to win-win outcomes for all parties.” Reassured yet?
- Apparently it’s “rethink your MLS stadium site” week: David Beckham’s new partners in his maybe-someday expansion franchise are now considering possible stadium locations other than Overtown, including possibly the former site of the Orange Bowl. Which was already rejected once three years ago over concerns about possible demands for below-market rent on city property and the concern that some residents could be forced out. This really is going to go around and around forever, isn’t it?
- Still lots of good seats available at the new Red Wings and Pistons arena!
- Maricopa County board chair Steve Chucri is “optimistic” that mediation will soon resolve its lease dispute with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is maybe good news for taxpayers, though it all depends on what “resolution” looks like. Arizona state law only requires 24 hours of notice before a new lease is voted on, but Chucri has promised he’ll give any deal a full public vetting.
- Here’s a New York Times business section article about how downtown development has surged in Minneapolis since the Vikings stadium opened, which is an excellent excuse to link to my favorite chart about how correlation doesn’t imply causation.
- South Korea’s new winter Olympics stadium will be torn down after being used exactly four times, for a cost of $27.25 million per use. I guess that’s one way of avoiding white elephants, but man.
- Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has noted that Seattle and New York have figured out how to build arenas without public money, so why can’t the Flames?
- The Atlanta Falcons say their dysfunctional new stadium roof will be working by next season, and definitely by next year’s Super Bowl. It’s all about the positive thinking.
Have a great weekend, and see you Monday!
Newsday’s Jim Baumbach has again sat down with a calendar to calculate when a new New York Islanders arena might open, and again come up with a best-case scenario of the 2021-22 season, if construction can be completed in 26 months after the environmental impact study is done; if it takes longer than that, which is entirely possible, the Islanders might not move into their new home until 2022.
All of which is perfectly reasonable and we already pretty much knew. The more interesting bit is about increased train service to the new development, which Baumbach sheds a small bit of new light on:
ESD has begun talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about increasing service at Belmont’s Long Island Rail Road station, which is only part time. The Islanders’ proposal calls for a full-time station. [Islanders co-owner Jonathan] Ledecky said on WFAN radio Wednesday that [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo also will be involved with the LIRR aspect.
“There’s money in the budget according to the governor and his people,” Ledecky said. “We have to make sure that money gets spent and that station becomes a vital part of the community, not just when there is horse racing and not just when there is a concert or a game. All the time, 365 [days a year], 24 hours a day.”
Cuomo’s office, in response to a request for comment, referred back to a statement last month that said the LIRR “will develop a plan to modify service to accommodate New Yorkers for sporting and special events.” The LIRR reiterated in a statement this week that it is “committed to expanding service” at Belmont but did not offer specifics.
As Aaron Gordon reported last month for the Village Voice, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the LIRR, doesn’t even have a cost estimate for how much it will cost to extend full-time train service to Belmont, but clearly Ledecky is counting on the state to pay for it. Add in the steeply discounted land lease payments and possible breaks on property taxes and the public subsidy for this project has to be considered to fall in the category of “dunno, but it could be a whole helluva lot.” At least there’s a 16-month environmental review before this thing gets finalized; while the state will be focusing on things like how a new arena will affect traffic patterns, I’ll be over here trying to determine how the money will actually work. Stay tuned.